Differences between broth and stock, baking powder and baking soda

Published 8:54 am Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Question: What’s the difference in broth and stock? Aren’t they just the same thing? And are they interchangeable in recipes?
Answer: Good question. As the weather turns colder, I’ve been looking at recipes for soups and stews and see the terms “stock” and “broth” are often used interchangeably. Both are the water from simmering with meat and/or bones, and usually some vegetables and aromatic herbs, then strained.
However, there are some generally accepted differences between stock and broth. Stock is made from slow simmering of bones and some trim. Stock tends to have a fuller mouth feel and richer flavor, due to the gelatin released by long-simmering bones. Broth, on the other hand, is usually made by simmering pieces of actual meat.
Here’s some general rules of thumb:
• Best broth uses? Makes a wonderful base for soups and for adding flavor to side dishes.
• Best stock uses? Use with meat based dishes. Good foundation for sauces and gravies
You may also be wondering about bouillon cubes or granules. These are compressed stock that needs to be dissolved before using. Bouillon and canned low-sodium chicken and/or beef broth is the busy home-cook’s best friend. If you’ve got an extra few minutes, enhance its flavor by adding any combination of the following and simmering for as long as you can: carrots, onions, leeks, celery, fennel, parsley, bay leaf, black peppercorns, or garlic. That’ll help the flavor tremendously. Enriching store-bought broth still won’t give you the full stock experience, but unless you’re making something like chicken noodle soup, where you really do want the stocky mouth feel, it’s a great timesaver.
Question: What’s the difference in baking powder and baking soda? How can I tell if my baking powder is still good?
Answer: Almost every cook has faced this scenario: you’re following a recipe that requires baking powder but you only have baking soda. What do you do? Can you substitute?
Or this one: you haven’t baked for a while, you make a favorite biscuit and use baking powder, only to find that your biscuits bake up flat as hockey pucks. What went wrong?
Knowing the difference in baking powder and baking soda may help and knowing how to check that your baking powder is still good can prevent the hockey puck biscuits.
The difference in baking powder and baking soda:
Both baking powder and baking soda are leavening agents, which means they are added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to ‘rise’. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions.
The easiest way to explain it is that baking soda is a base — it’s alkaline. Remember those experiments we did as kids, adding vinegar to baking soda to watch the eruption of bubbles? When you mix a base (baking soda) with an acid (vinegar) you get a reaction (bubbles). So if you encounter a baking recipe that uses baking soda, often that recipe will have an acidic element as well, such as vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk, molasses, or yogurt. When the two come into contact, bubbles of carbon dioxide are formed, creating the leavening in your dough or batter.
Baking soda will create leavening on its own when it is heated (try pouring boiling water over baking soda in a sink to help unclog a drain, it will bubble up!), but unless it is balanced with an acidic ingredient, the resulting taste may be metallic.
Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and a dry acid, such as cream of tartar, and perhaps some cornstarch to help keep the two separate and dry.
Most baking powders on the market are “double acting,” meaning that some leavening occurs the minute the baking powder gets wet, and the rest of the leavening occurs when it is heated.
How long do baking soda and baking powder last?
It depends on storage conditions. Baking soda can last quite a long time if stored sealed in a cool, dry space. Baking powder however is problematic. It can last 3 months, or it can last a year. If you are in a humid environment, once opened, baking powder might not last more than a few months. Having ruined a dish or two with old baking powder, I try to buy small cans, and I write the purchase date on the side of the can, so I know how old it is.
There is an easy home check to be sure that baking powder is still active. Just put 1 teaspoon of baking powder into 1 cup of warm water. You should see a bubbling action, which means the powder is still active and safe to use. No bubbles? The powder is flat and you should toss it and buy some new.
How to substitute baking powder for baking soda
If you have a baking recipe that calls for baking soda, and you only have baking powder, you may be able to substitute, but you will need 2 or 3 times as much baking powder for the same amount of baking soda to get the same amount of leavening power, and you may end up with something that’s a little bitter tasting, depending on the recipe.
If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda, you’ll want to substitute with 2 to 3 teaspoons of baking powder. Just make sure your baking powder is still effective and not passed its use-by date.
How to substitute baking soda for baking powder
If you have a baking recipe that calls for baking powder and you only have baking soda, you may be able to substitute if you increase the amount of acidic ingredients in the recipe to offset the baking soda. You’ll also need much less baking soda as it is 3 times as powerful as baking powder. You’ll need about a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of baking powder, you’ll want to substitute with a teaspoon of baking soda. You’ll also want to add 2 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice to your batter.
Vickie Clark is the Director of the Carter County UT Extension Office and also serves as the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent. If you have questions or need any information related to Family and Consumer Science contact her at the UT Extension Carter County, 824 East Elk Ave., Elizabethton, call 542-1818 or email at vclark@utk.edu.

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