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Simple question: can you generally use baking soda to cancel acidity in your dishes?

For instance, sometimes tomato sauce is too acidic, or you put too much vinegar in some dish, etc.

The simple acid$+$basic$=0$ concept should make it work, but do you get undesirable side effects?

  • The production of CO₂ should not be that much of a problem if you let your dish breath a bit after adding baking soda.
  • I guess the reaction is exothermic, so maybe you get heating…
  • I'm not sure if you can get a a chemical reaction producing harmful stuff, depending on the type of acid you start with.

So, what's the verdict?

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    There will probably be some salts created as a by-product of the acid-base neutralization. But this would be a salt in a broad chemistry sense, and not necessarily sodium-chloride table-salt which you would normally use for cooking. – brhans Jul 16 at 15:30
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    @brhans If baking soda is used, one of the ions in the produced salt will indeed be sodium and will taste like sodium does. – Bryan Krause Jul 16 at 15:42
  • @BryanKrause and how does that taste? – user76575 Jul 16 at 15:44
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    For your tomato sauce example, typically the solution is to add sweetness: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/5/… suggests either carmelized onion or sugar. These won't actually reduce acidity, of course, but they will reduce the perception of acidity, much like how lemonade is very acidic but does not taste nearly as acidic as an equivalent amount of lemon juice diluted in water. – Bryan Krause Jul 16 at 15:50
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    @FrancescoZambolin cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/24733/… "acidity breaks the bond between fructose and glucose, thus the acidity of the solution is reduced" is not correct. The reaction proceeds faster in an acidic environment, but the OH- is added to one sugar and H+ added to the other; it is water that is used up, not acid. The sourness (acid perception) is reduced, not the acidity. – Bryan Krause Jul 16 at 21:45
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I regularly use baking soda for that purpose to protect what is remaining of my enamel. To allow for the increase in volume as a result of any foaming, use a large container so that the top of the liquid does not go higher than the 3/4 mark.

It is also advisable to leave it overnight in the fridge to let the baking soda dissolve completely.

The taste is slightly saltier. You may want to start with a ratio of a teaspoon to a liter of fluid.

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Baking soda is ok but what I found work better is honey. Especially in dishes that gain from sugar. Like for example tomato sauce. Sugar neutralize the acidic while not adding extra taste (like soda does) but just the sweetens that can embellish herbs. Honey (especially if you have honeydew honey that have this natural "forest" feel).

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The classical way to take the acid (taste, not literal acid) out of tomato sauce is a small amount of sugar (like a teaspoon). I can't say I have put too much vinegar in anything, but I'd imagine the same method would work in that case.

Baking soda is a base, and will chemically neutralize acids, that's true. But as someone else points out it has a taste of its own, and not a very good one at that. And the taste of vinegar is not entirely based on its pure acid content. So chemically neutralizing alone isn't all there is to overcoming a too-strong taste.

There is chemistry in cooking, plenty of it, but cooking goes beyond that. The physiology/neurology component is also important.

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