*Baking Mix Longevity Upgrade*
30 Mar 2020
Recently we ate eight year old, Martha White, just-add-water, Banana muffin mix. No one died. No one got sick. The batch smelled and tasted great. However, the batter didn't rise. The 1/2" tall muffins were dense and heavy like a brick. I called mom. She said the leavening was probably expired.
Mom suggested adding one teaspoon baking powder to the mix. I made a second batch and it was great. I've decided to start automatically adding fresh leavening to any mix more than two years old. ...just in case...
More Mom Wisdom:
- Cream of Tartar: It's not cream. It's a powdery acid byproduct of fermenting grapes in wine making. Its official name is potassium hydrogen tartrate or tartaric acid. Find it with the spices at the grocery.
- Cream of tartar is good indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry area. To test it, observe that it is a white powder with a slight acidic smell.
- Combining baking soda with an acid creates carbon dioxide causing baked goods to rise. Recipes containing an acid such as buttermilk, brown sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, molasses, applesauce, or honey. Cream of tartar is an acid and will react with baking soda.
- Baking soda is generally good for two years unopened or six months after opening. To test it add 3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar to 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Stir. Mixture should rapidly bubble. No bubbles means it is too old.
- Rule of thumb: If you have a metallic, soapy taste there was too much baking soda and/or not enough acid. Use 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar per 1 cup flour when freshening leavening.
- Don't throw out old baking soda. It may not be effective for baking but there are other uses for it.
- Baking powder is a combination of baking soda, cream of tartar and other goodies. It is used when the recipe does not include an acidic ingredient.
- Baking powder loses its effectiveness and has a shelf life of about one year. To test it add 3 tablespoons warm water to 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in a small bowl. Stir. Mixture should fizz almost immediately. No fizz means it's too old.
- Rule of thumb: Use 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup flour.
- Sometimes a recipe calls for both baking powder and soda. This may be needed to add necessary lift based on other ingredients.
- Depending on the likely ingredients in your mix you can decide if you'd rather add baking soda+cream of tartar or baking powder or both.
- Vacuum sealing baking soda, baking powder and mixes that contain them will extend the shelf life. Cut a small opening in the pouch before vacuum sealing to remove the air in the pouch.
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