Check your pantry now. Do you have a box of baking soda or a canister of baking powder tucked on a back shelf? It's probably been there since who knows when. And more than likely, one or both have expired.
Baking soda and baking powder lose their effectiveness once they've been sitting around for a long while. Typically both last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year but make sure to check the "best used by" date on the bottom. With expired baking soda, you can still technically use it for cleaning because it might have some potency left, but it will not be powerful enough to use in baking. But expired baking powder is a different story. You don't want to use ineffective baking powder because you'll end up with flat cakes, and there's no remedy for fixing that.
Before you chuck that old baking soda or powder, test it to see if it's viable. Here's how.
Testing Baking Soda
Pour a few tablespoons of white distilled vinegar into a small bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda -- if it's fresh, the mixture should fizz and bubble furiously. If it doesn't have a strong reaction, then you might want to consider tossing it and buying a new box or just setting it aside for cleaning pots and pans.
Testing Baking Powder
Pour a few tablespoons of warm water into a small bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder to the warm water -- the mixture should fizz moderately if the powder is fresh. If there is no reaction, then chuck it and buy a new canister of baking powder.
Do you have any special ways for testing baking soda or baking powder? Leave us a comment below!