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What is baking soda used for, and how much should be added?

  • Thanks for the question. I edited it to clarify, and remove the question about whether or not baking soda has health risks, as we avoid questions of that nature. – moscafj Nov 20 '18 at 17:59
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    Hey Insha, welcome to Seasoned Advice! Your question is very general, though. Particularly, I don't see that we can answer "how much should be added" unless we know what you're making. – FuzzyChef Nov 20 '18 at 19:07
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Baking soda is used in cooking for two purposes:

  1. As a leavening agent, in order to make baked goods rise. It does this by reacting with acids in the batter or dough, and producing carbon dioxide gas.
  2. To soften beans during cooking, particularly chickpeas. The alkalinity of the soda helps the complex carbohydrates and fiber in some types of beans break down, allowing them to puree more smoothly.

I can't answer "how much is added" unless I know what you're making.

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According to the King Arthur website, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda is enough to leaven 1 cup of flour. Baking soda leavens by reacting with acidic ingredients and moisture (plus a little more when heat is added). It begins to lose its leavening effect as soon as it is mixed, so cooking soon is critical.

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