Food Storage Essentials: Tips for storing leavening and salt

Published: Friday, March 1 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

Storing baking powder, baking soda, salt and yeast help expands food storage possibilities to foods like muffins.

Leslie Probert

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Baking powder, baking soda, salt and yeast are important for making yummy baked foods with some of the grains often included in food storage. People planning to use flour, white or whole wheat, oatmeal and other grains in baking will want to make sure they have stored enough leavening. Here are some tips for storing the most commonly used leavening ingredients and salt.

Baking powder and salt

Baking powder and salt in food storage are critical ingredients in family favorites like pancakes, muffins, biscuits, cornbread, fruit breads, cakes, desserts and especially cookies, which are nice in everyday cooking and especially comforting in emergencies.

Both baking powder and salt store indefinitely if stored in their original packages and kept away from moisture, according to the Utah State University Extension Service, (see extension.usu.edu/foodstorage/htm/cooking-essentials). It is preferable to store double-acting baking powder, which contains two acids causing dough to rise once liquid ingredients are added, and again in the oven when heated.

Even though a best-by-used-by date is given on baking powder packages, it will store much longer if stored in a cool, dry place. A study at Brigham Young University (see ift.confex.com/ift/2004/techprogram/paper_25989.htm) found that baking powder, stored in its original container for up to 29 years, produced biscuits that did not differ significantly in height or appearance from biscuits made with fresh baking powder.

After opening, store baking powder and salt away from moisture. In dry climates where moisture is not a concern, iodized salt should still be kept in a covered container to preserve the iodine.

Some sources say opened baking powder lasts for just six months, however, in my experience it will keep much longer. After opening a large container of baking powder purchased for storage, I continually filled a small container for the kitchen as needed and stored the rest in the original covered container in the basement. It was still working well when it was used up after 2½ years.

Baking soda

Baking soda, an important ingredient in biscuits and other quick breads, stores indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place. It must be kept away from moisture after opening.

Yeast

Think of the variety of wonderful foods that can be made in an emergency or anytime if yeast is stored — not only bread, but rolls, cinnamon rolls, focaccia, bread sticks and even pita bread to name a few.

Yeast stores for a remarkably long time if packaged in an oxygen deprived environment. It can be purchased in foil packages that are like hard bricks because the oxygen was removed. These will store on the shelf in a cool, dark place for seven to eight years, or in a freezer for up to 10 years.

It is simple to plan a year’s supply of yeast by figuring how much bread is needed per day for one year. In an emergency, I plan to have a loaf of bread a day for my family and, using my favorite four-loaf bread recipe, that requires eight one-pound packages of yeast. Absent an emergency, using just one package of yeast a year makes it easy to get through eight packages before the yeast becomes less active. Such a long shelf life allows you to bake when you feel like it.

After being opened, yeast that was packaged in an oxygen-deprived environment will continue to produce great results for up to a year if stored covered in the fridge.

Leavening and salt are simple to include in food storage. With these additions, the large variety of baked foods that we make and enjoy every day can also be made in emergencies when they will be a big morale booster.

Leslie Probert, a graduate in home economics from Brigham Young University, has been a popular speaker and is co-author of "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition" with over 400 fast, creative recipes. E-mail: foodstoragechick@gmail.com

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