WHAT IS BAKING SODA?
Also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarb soda, baking soda is a leavening agent (meaning it makes your dough or batter rise). With a white, crystalline appearance, it needs both liquid and an acidic ingredient to start working. The soda produces small bubbles of carbon dioxide gas which become trapped in your dough, causing it to rise. This is actually the first step of a 2 step process. The 2nd step occurs when you bake your dough, the heat (over 176 F or 80 C) causes a second round of gas emission. Basically soda causes your bread to fart but leaves it nowhere to go.
WHERE IS THE BEST BAKING SODA MADE?
Shale deposits in Wyoming account for most of the world’s supply. This is actually a by-product from mining shale, although in California in the Searles Lake, it’s precursor soda ash can occur naturally as well.
WHAT KIND OF BAKING SODA SHOULD I USE?
There is no real difference between commercial varieties, go with whatever is cheapest and most accessible.
HOW SHOULD BAKING SODA BE STORED?
Once opened transfer it to an airtight container in your cupboard. Don’t leave it in the opened cardboard box since it will start to absorb moisture and odors around it. Any airtight, sealable jar will work. Some experts recommend freezing the soda (once in an airtight container) to help keep it fresh. I would suggest against this, as condensation can form inside the container if your freezer warms up before cooling down again (power outage, small child doing their part to fight global warming by leaving the door open, etc).
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BAKING POWDER AND BAKING SODA?
While both help your dough to rise, they are not quite the same thing. Baking powder is baking soda with an acidic ingredient added a.k.a. it’s a complete leavening agent. With water already present in your dough or batter, this means you just add baking powder into it an your on your way to a lighter and fluffier meal. With the soda, you’ll still need to add an acidic ingredient to activate it. So basically if your recipe already has an acidic ingredient like orange juice, use soda. If it doesn’t, use baking powder. Don’t confuse these 2 agents with cream of tartar. That is the acidic ingredient added to baking soda to make up baking powder!