Flat cookies, unleavened bread, muffins like rocks – all are products from dead baking soda, yeast or baking powder! There are a few culprits for these products dying on you, mainly age or temperature. In the case of yeast, they’re live cells; humidity and high temperatures will kill them! For baking soda and baking powder, old age will do them in.
In order to have these baking stars shine for you, you need to give them a little respect; in the case of yeast, give them a happy home, such as the freezer! They’ll settle down nicely for a long winter’s nap, and wake in time to help that bread rise and puff to your heart’s content! For your baking soda and baking powder, they want to be stored in an air-tight environment, away from all the life-sucking sun. For baking soda, its lifecycle is only three to six months after date of opening. Your best bet is upon the lid of the canister, write the date you opened it. Begin testing it after three months and subsequently each time you go to use it.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to run to your cabinets and begin throwing out those 59 containers of baking soda and baking powder! Save that money for an upgrade on your ingredients, in the meantime, put this little tip to the test:
Baking soda: Mix 1/4 teaspoon of soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar; if the mixture bubbles immediately (think back to your sixth grade Volcano Science Project), you’re good to go! If not, chuck it and add “yellow box of white stuff” to your grocery list.
Baking powder: Mix 1 teaspoon with 1/2 cup hot water; is it bubbling? Hooray! Go bake some cookies. Oh, no? Mmm, thow it away and grab some new stuff next time you’re out.
Yeast: So, you don’t bake a lot of bread – what’s a chef to do? Buy it in smaller amounts! Don’t buy that large jar to save a few pennies. Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water (110Âº to 115Âº F), then mix in 2-1/4 teaspoon yeast (if you’re using those pre-measured packets, they are 2-1/4 teaspoon already). Wait ten minutes, does it bubble? Yay! Homemade bread!! If not, be greatful you saved yourself the hours of kneading and mixing only to have a loaf as heavy as rocks!