baking soda shelf life

Baking Soda Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Baking soda is one thing every kitchen should have. You know, just in case you want to whip up some pancakes for breakfast. But, unless you are a baking enthusiast, a pack of baking soda may last for a while in the kitchen.

One time, you’re baking your family’s favorite. Sadly, the cake turns flat and dense as a rock. Could it be the baking soda? Does baking soda expire?

If you’ve been there, hang on. There is nothing more frustrating than spending hours of baking, and your baked goods do not turn as you would expect—light and fluffy. Indeed, the culprit may be the baking soda that has lost its potency.

To avoid such baking misfortunes in the future, keep reading. In this article, you’ll find useful knowledge about baking soda’s shelf life, its storage methods, and how to test if baking soda is still fresh, etc. Sounds interesting? Read on!

How To Store Baking Soda

Baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate, if you prefer) is a leavening agent mostly used for baking and frying.

Naturally, baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients such as lime or lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, brown sugar, applesauce, molasses, honey, etc.

When baking soda is mixed with such ingredients, a chemical reaction occurs that releases carbon dioxide. As a result, your dough or batter rises and expands, creating that fluffy light textures for your pancakes, cakes, cookies, etc.

Storage conditions for baking soda are similar to other dry goods, such as your wheat flour and other baking essentials. That means it should be in a cool, dry place. Your pantry or a kitchen cabinet should do the job.

Protect it from heat and moisture build-up. Hence, not anywhere near the stove, oven, sink, or dishwasher.

Usually, the packaging is not resealable. Transfer any leftovers into a sealed airtight container. Don’t forget to label when it is opened for the first time.

Do you need to refrigerate or freeze baking soda?

Baking soda is not a perishable item. Thus, it’s not necessary to refrigerate or freeze it. But, if you can’t guarantee a better place outside the fridge, feel free to keep it refrigerated or in the freezer, as Bob’s Redmill suggests. Either way, always keep it in a sealed airtight container.


How To Tell If Baking Soda Has Gone Bad

Baking soda doesn’t go bad or spoil as fresh produce does. It won’t become unsafe or make you sick, but it definitely won’t raise your baked goods. The only aftermath is that your cakes or cookies may turn flat and sad, instead of fluffy and light.

It takes a gradual process for baking soda to lose its efficacy or potency. It happens mainly when baking soda is exposed to air or moisture. Therefore, if the box is wet or damp, it’s better to get it tested before mixing it into the dough.

How to test if baking soda is still fresh and good for baking?

It’s easy to test if baking soda will work for your baking. This quick test is simple and only takes a minute.

Drop a teaspoon of baking soda to hot water mixed with vinegar or lemon juice. As mentioned earlier, baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients. If the mixture bubbles or fizzes, your baking soda is still fresh. If it doesn’t, then it’s time to get a new replacement! 

So, what can you do with baking soda that has lost its power?

Baking soda has a wide array of uses other than as a leavening agent for baking. Thus, in such circumstances, baking soda can serve other purposes such as cleaning, deodorizing the fridge, and much more.

How Long Does Baking Soda Last?

Baking soda is a durable item. Similar to baking powder shelf life, check for its “best by” or “best before” date to see until when it should retain its potency.

In case your baking soda doesn’t come with a “best by” date, the average shelf life of baking soda is 2 to 3 years for unopened packs.

After opening, its fate relies on the storage conditions. With proper storage, you can expect it to stay fresh for at least 6 months or maybe longer. Exposure to air or moisture is the real culprit if baking soda loses its potency.

TypesPantry
Baking soda (unopened)Best by date or 2 to 3 years
Baking soda (opened)6 months

This table is a general guideline. The actual shelf life depends on the storage conditions. Give it a quick test to check if it still has its power. Otherwise, get a new pack!


FAQs

Can you use expired or old baking soda for baking?

As long as it still has its power to raise the dough, feel free to use it. Check if it’s still good with a quick test by dropping baking soda to vinegar or lemon juice. If it fizzes and produces bubbles, feel free to use it.

Is baking soda the same as baking powder?

This question is probably the most recurring in the realm of baking, especially if you are new to it.

Baking soda is different from baking powder. Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. Meanwhile, baking powder is a mixture of baking soda, cream of tartar, cornstarch, and other ingredients.

Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents. Although most times they can substitute each other, each of them works differently when used in a recipe.

What are substitutes for baking soda?

Some replacements for baking soda are baking powder, self-rising flour, baker’s ammonia, egg white, and potassium bicarbonate added with salt.


Conclusion

Baking soda is a cooking essential every kitchen should have. It is a shelf-stable and durable item. It goes bad in the sense that it loses its potency to expand and raise the dough.

As a rule of thumb, baking soda generally lasts for 2 to 3 years unopened and 6 months after opening. If you have an old pack of baking soda, or you’re doubting if it’s still good, take this quick test.

Drop a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water mixed with vinegar or lemon juice. If it bubbles, that’s a good sign. If it doesn’t, better get a new pack!

Check our other article for a more elaborative explanation to choose the best substitutes for baking soda

baking soda go bad

Photo by mirzamlk/depositphotos

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