Baking powder is one of the kitchen ingredients that seem to last forever. If you are not a frequent baker, you can even have a box sitting in the pantry for years. But did you know that powder won’t last forever? Keep reading and you’ll know everything about baking powder’s shelf life and when to use it for optimal results.
Does Baking Powder Go Bad?
Yes, baking powder does go bad, and when that happens, it won’t matter how much of the powder you add to your baked foods. It won’t do anything! Your pastries will be flat and dull.
Good thing is that baking powder has a fairly long shelf life. Well, it may not last as long as a baking soda (that is said to stay good indefinitely), but it will certainly not expire after just a few months.
The box or container will come with a date showing how long the product will stay good for. Unopened baking powder will retain its potency and freshness up to the marked date and a little longer after that. Then it will start to deteriorate. You will likely notice a loss of quality in your pastries.
How Long Does Baking Powder Last?
Baking powder has a shelf life of between eighteen and twenty four months. Use the printed date to figure out how quickly you should use the product, but also keep in mind that the powder can still be used past that. If the box is not opened, you will be able to effectively use the product for up to six months beyond its best-by date.
An opened box, on the other hand, will not last that long. As soon as the seal is broken, the powder will start to degrade. If not stored properly, the product will lose its potency very quickly.
It is, therefore, recommended that baking powder be used within six months after it has been opened. It should also be tightly sealed before being put in storage to keep air and moisture at bay. It’s a good idea to label the product with the date you’ve opened it.
If you have opened baking powder sitting in storage for more than six months or an unopened box that is way past its best-before date, make sure to test its potency before adding it to your baking recipes.
Below is a quick summary of baking powder’s lifespan.
|Before Best-by Date||Past Best-by Date|
|Unopened baking powder||18 to 24 months||6 months|
|Opened baking powder||6 months||Not recommended|
3 Tips to Tell if Baking Powder Has Gone Bad
Baking powder doesn’t spoil in a way that is easy to tell unless the product has absorbed air, moisture, or other substances that may cause it to go bad. To know for sure whether your powder is still functional follow these tips:
1. Test It
Conducting a test is the most effective way to find out if your baking powder still got its potency. All you need is half a cup of hot water, a bowl, and the powder.
Simply pour the water into the bowl and add a teaspoon of the baking powder. Now, look for an immediate fizzing or bubbling reaction. If it occurs, then you have nothing to worry about. The product is still good. If there is no fizzing, however, that baking powder is done for and you need a new box!
Here is a short video that shows you exactly how to test if your baking powder is still effective:
2. Look Out for Growth
Baking powder will likely not develop mold, but if you notice any gray spots or growth in the package, something is wrong and you should get rid of that box right away.
3. Check the Expiration Date
Chances are your baking powder will not come with an expiration date. Instead, it will have a best-by date to give an estimate of how long the product will maintain its original quality.
While you can still use the powder a few months past this date, if it has been in storage longer than six months or you can’t remember when you purchased it, just throw it out. You can do a test to find out if the product is still okay but if it has been stored for an exceptionally longer period than recommended, testing won’t be necessary, as the product is probably already flat.
4 Tips to Store Baking Powder
While baking powder lasts a long time, it has to be stored properly to retain its leavening power. Below are exclusive pointers to help you keep the product the right way:
1. Keep Baking Powder in a Dry Place
Baking powder will quickly absorb moisture from the surroundings. Make sure yours is stored in a dry area. The best place to store it would be the pantry, but a kitchen cabinet that is away from heat sources and direct sunlight is also okay.
2. Place Away from Strongly-Scented Food Items
Apart from storing the powder in a spot where it doesn’t absorb moisture, ensure the nearby foods don’t have strong odors too. Baking powder can pick up scents from adjacent food items, causing it to lose its efficacy quickly. A spot near the baking soda or wheat floor would be fine.
3. Keep Open Boxes Tightly Sealed
It’s a no brainer. If you don’t want your open baking powder to soak up air, water, or smells from adjacent foodstuffs, keep it tightly sealed. Depending on how it is packaged, you can decide whether to transfer it to an airtight container or store it in its original package.
A mason jar can help keep the product air-tight. Just make sure it is clean and dry. If you can’t find an airtight container, use a Ziplock bag. Be sure to squeeze the air out of the bag before you can transfer the powder into it.
4. Use a Dry Spoon to Scoop
Whenever you scoop baking powder for a recipe, make sure your measuring spoon is not wet. You don’t want to track any water into the box, as this could activate the product and cause it to lose its potency quickly.
Similarly, check to see the spoon is clean. Preferably, use one that has not been used to measure other ingredients. It will keep you from transferring these ingredients’ residue to the baking powder, which will enable it to retain its quality longer.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Baking Powder
Ingesting baking powder that has gone bad will not make you sick. Expired baking powder is not toxic and using it even months after its best-by date will not have any negative effects on your body.
The only reason baking powder is not recommended for use after it has gone bad is that the product may not be effective. Beyond the best-by date, baking powder, like most foodstuffs, will lose its potency. Its ability to rise will disappear and the resulting pastry will be flat, dense, and dull.
According to Michigan State University Extension, always try to use your baking powder within the period indicated on the package, when its quality hasn’t diminished. And if you have doubts about the product’s efficacy, put a small amount of it in hot water. If it fizzes, then you are good. But if the product just settles in the bottom without bubbling, that whole container is long gone.
Can You Freeze Baking Powder?
Yes, you can, but you shouldn’t. In fact, you should not even refrigerate it. While placing food items in the freezer can help extend their shelf life, that doesn’t work for baking powder. You will actually end up ruining the product.
Remember when we mentioned that baking powder should be stored in a dry place? Right! Now, when placed in the freezer, the moisture inside the freezer causes the powder to activate inside the package.
Once this happens, you cannot get the product back to its initial state. The activation process renders it useless. A similar event happens when the product is placed in the refrigerator. The humidity in the fridge completely ruins the product, making it unsuitable for baking.
If you really want to store baking powder in the freezer (which we do not recommend), then make sure to put it in a completely airtight container.
Also, keep in mind that this will not necessarily extend the product’s lifespan. Baking powder is a dry ingredient. Whether you freeze it or not doesn’t matter. The product will still stay in good shape for as long as it ought to even if it spends all its life on a countertop, provided the environment stays dry and temperatures don’t spike to insane levels.
While baking powder can go bad, a simple test can help you determine if the product is still good to use. If you have a box that has already been sitting in the pantry for a long time, test it. If it’s expired, throw it out. Baking powder is pretty cheap anyway.