Baking Powder Facts and History

Baking Powder is a leavening agent that contains a combination of baking soda, cream of tartar, and a moisture absorber (like cornstarch).  It is used like yeast, but it acts much more quickly.
Baking Powder is used in batters where there is no acid present, such as in: cookies, cakes, pastries, pies, quick bread, etc. It makes the baked goods voluminous by allowing gas formation when an acid comes into contact with it and/or when it is heated.
Because it acts immediately upon the addition of water, a filler (usually cornstarch) is added to absorb the moisture and prevent premature activity.

Types of Baking Powder:
Double-acting:  Most baking powders are double-acting, which means it reacts twice;  one acid that dissolves when it comes in contact with water and a second acid that does not dissolve until it reaches a higher temperature.  This type of double action ensures that the finished product is light and fluffy.
Single-acting:  Mainly used by manufacturers and are usually not available for retail sale.
How To Purchase Baking Powder:
When buying and stocking up, try to find the most current date available by looking for a manufacturing or expiration date on the product.  Keep in mind when it was manufactured and how long it has been sitting on the store’s shelf, because time weakens its potency.
Just because you bought it last week, it does not mean it was made last week and is as fresh as possible.
Once a can is opened, it should be good for 3 to 6 months.
How To Store Baking Powder:
Store at room temperature in a dry place.
A cabinet or pantry away from the sink or heat source (such as the stove, direct sunlight), is a perfect place.
Do not store in the refrigerator as it may shorten the shelf life due to condensation that occurs on the can.


  1. My mom always used Calumet-seems like the cans were metal back then.

    1. They were metal for many years. For awhile we could not buy Calumet in our local stores and I didn't find any other that I thought worked as well. The stores have gone back to stocking it again.


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