Article first published as Chemistry in Kitchen: Little Known Uses For Baking Soda on Blogcritics.
Preparing food can be a great joy while cooking and really rewarding when serving to your family members or guests. The amusement and wonder on their faces when just looking at the food can be very captivating. Some even might envy you, thinking how on earth you managed to preserve the colors so well. When they try their first sip or bite their faces lighten up.
Crossing the boundaries
What comes to your mind when I mention baking powder and baking soda? If this were a live webinar and I would post a query asking you to answer the question, the results would probably be: 40% baking, 30% cakes, 10% chocolate chip cookies, 8% biscuits, 7% muffins and cupcakes, and 5% some nonsense not related to the question. These are expected results. I am quite sure nobody would answer “soaking beans overnight” or “preserving colors of vegetables” or even “changing the food color.”
Baking soda and baking powder are primarily used as leavening agents, adding them to raise dough and produce desired shapes and textures. Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate while baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate together with acidifying and drying agents. Both produce bubbles of carbon dioxide (yes, the global warming greenhouse gas) when mixed into dough. Also common to both are their alkaline properties, meaning their pH is higher than seven. I am perfectly aware that this might be too hard to understand, but please read on. For more info ask your kids what it means.
Learn, understand, and apply
Let’s add green to equation. Chlorophyll is a green pigment that makes green vegetables, well… green. When we cook green veggies in water they usually lose color and turn dull green. Why? A chemical reaction happens and some atoms get shuffled in the pigment. How can you prevent it? Add some baking soda to water when cooking. Side effects? There are two major factors you need to consider when adding baking soda to food. Be very careful regarding the amount. Too much baking soda will turn the food bitter. The second one is the effect on cellular structure. Adding baking soda to water softens the cells. This is nothing bad. On the contrary, it helps cook food faster, substantially faster. You can use this property of baking soda when soaking beans in water overnight. Give it a try and you will be amazed.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s photoblog about cooking a broccoli soup – with a twist.