Even though many baking sodas don’t print an expiration date on the box, they can still go bad. When I say “go bad,” I don’t mean it becomes rancid or inedible. However, it will lose its leavening power over time, which means it won’t work for its intended purpose in your baking.
Once opened, a box of baking soda can last anywhere from 6 months up to a year. After that, it will begin to lose its fizzing power, which is what causes your recipes to rise.
I didn’t have to worry about baking soda expiring in culinary school since we used it so often. But in my own kitchen, I don’t reach for it consistently, and I’ve mistakenly used expired baking soda and ruined a recipe or two.
Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to test if your baking soda is still good.
Once I learned this trick, I was shocked at how simple it was. And I’m proud to say, I haven’t accidentally used expired baking soda since.
How Baking Soda Works
Baking soda needs an acid to activate. Once combined, baking soda produces carbon dioxide bubbles. And these little air pockets create the rise in your baked goods.
Whatever acid is in your recipe, whether it’s lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk, activates the baking soda so your Irish Soda Bread, pound cake, or biscuits can rise.
If your baking soda has expired, this chemical reaction will be weak or not take place at all. And if you use it in a recipe, you’re likely to end up with a very dense and unappetizing baked good.
How To Test Your Baking Soda
Thankfully, testing the leavening power of your baking soda couldn’t be simpler.
All you’ll need is a cup or bowl, the baking soda in question, and an acid, like lemon juice or vinegar.
First, spoon about half a teaspoon of baking soda into your cup.
Then, add a splash of whatever acid you have on hand into the cup. You won’t need much; about ¼ cup is more than enough for this test, and it doesn’t need to be perfect.
If the mixture fizzes immediately and aggressively, your baking soda is still good to go and will work wonders in creating a beautiful rise for your baked goods.
But if the mixture barely bubbles, your baking soda has expired, and it’s best not to risk ruining your baking by using it.
Storage Tips To Keep Your Baking Soda Fresh & Fizzy
There are two great ways to store baking soda long-term. Both aim to protect it from moisture and acids to extend its shelf life.
The first storage option is to place the opened (or unopened) cardboard box that it comes in into a resealable plastic bag.
Alternatively, you could transfer the baking soda from the cardboard box to an airtight container.
Both options work well to protect the baking soda from moisture in the air or spilled liquids. So choose whichever method you like best.
Unopened baking soda can last well past the printed expiration date and usually packs leavening power up to 18 months past the date it went on sale.
Opened baking soda, if stored properly, can last anywhere from 6 months to a year, and maybe even a bit further.
Remember, just because your baking soda has passed its expiration date (if it has one printed at all) doesn’t mean it’s expired. So test it before you throw it away.
My Baking Soda Has Expired… Now What?
If your baking soda has expired, don’t throw it out!
Instead, use that box for cleaning. The abrasive powder works wonders in scrubbing away hard-to-clean dirt and grime.
However, You will want to buy yourself a new container for baking. Or check out Professional Pastry Chef Freya Drake’s 4 Simple Substitutes for Baking Soda.
This way, you can skip the grocery store and get back to baking!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use expired baking soda?
Expired baking soda is edible but will not provide the correct rise in your baking. If your baking soda has expired, use it for cleaning, and buy a new container for baking.
How should I store baking soda long-term?
To store baking soda long-term, place the cardboard box that it comes in into a resealable kitchen bag. This will protect it from moisture and acids and extend its shelf life. Alternatively, you can transfer the baking soda from the cardboard box to an airtight container for storage.