Is Your Baking Powder Still Good?

Test Your Baking Powder to See If It's Fresh

Baking Powder. Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Getting ready to do some baking, and not sure if your baking powder is still good? To find out, drop a teaspoon of the baking powder into a cup of hot water. If it bubbles heavily, the baking powder is still good. If it doesn't, it's time to buy another can.

Why This Works

Most store-bought baking powder is double-acting, meaning it causes the ingredients in your recipe to rise twice. The first rise happens when the baking powder comes into contact with the wet ingredients in the recipe.

The second rise happens when the baking powder is subjected to the heat of your oven. By dropping a teaspoon of baking powder into hot water, you're testing both of those reactions.

Make Your Own Baking Powder

If your baking powder didn't pass the test, and you don't feel like running to the store for more, you can make your own. As long as you have baking soda and cream of tartar in the pantry, you're all set. Here's how to make your own baking powder in less than a minute: Just know that this will give you single-acting baking powder, not double-acting. It will cause your recipe to rise when it comes into contact with the wet ingredients, but it won't rise a second time in the oven. Be sure to get your baked goods in the oven quickly, and don't stir more than you have to, so you get maximum rise out of your baking powder.

Using homemade baking powder could affect the height and density of your finished product, but sometimes slightly shorter, denser baked goods beat a trip to the store.

Other Substitutes for Baking Powder

If you don't have any cream of tartar on hand, you can also use baking soda in combination with another acid, like buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar or yogurt to create a baking powder substitute. Just use one teaspoon of baking powder and two Tablespoons of one of the previously mentioned acids in place of each Tablespoon of baking powder called for.

If one of these acids is already included in your recipe, there's no need to add more. They'll activate the baking soda.

More Things You Can Do with Baking Powder

Once you've determined your baking powder is still fresh, or you've replaced it with a new can, use it to make your own self-rising flour and self-rising corn meal. They only take a couple minutes to make, and come in quite a bit cheaper than the store-bought versions. Finding more uses for your baking powder will also insure that you use your next can up long before you have to worry about whether it's gone stale.

Store your baking powder away from heat and moisture to maximize its shelf life.