Baking soda’s surprising uses

Thick and creamy tomato soup

We all know about baking soda’s leavening prowess for muffins, cakes, and quick breads, and its ability to help cookies and other baked goods brown evenly. There are more uses for the common pantry ingredient, says indexed blog Serious Eats, which describes five additional ways to use baking soda in your cooking.

The first tip is to improve shrimp by using a quick brine of salt and baking soda. According to the article, salt “helps keep the shrimp moist and juicy as they cook, while baking soda gives them a crisper, snappier texture” by taking advantage of baking soda’s acceleration of the Maillard reaction. This trait can also be used to brown onions faster, although this can negatively impact the flavor and texture of the onions so it’s best for applications where the onion isn’t the star of the dish. Baking soda’s alkalinity works in other ways, too. Serious Eats explains that it can help balance acidic canned tomatoes, as shown in their thick and creamy tomato soup (pictured above). 

One surprising trick is the ability of baking soda to transform ordinary pasta into ramen noodles. The alkalinity is again at play here: adding baking soda to your pasta water mimics the substance that gives ramen its characteristic texture and color. While not a perfect reproduction, it will certainly do in a pinch. The final unexpected use described in the article is to help soften beans as they cook, especially useful for making a smoother hummus.


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  • nicolthepickle  on  October 19, 2016

    I did not know that about the beans. I'm going to try it next time.

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