Sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda, has a place in almost every kitchen, whether it's keeping your refrigerator odor free, or scrubbing burned food from pots and pans. Baking soda neutralizes acids, softens water, provides a mild abrasive for cleaning and absorbs odors. It also has many uses in cooking.
The Baking Soda Book reports that rubbing the skin of chicken with baking soda before cooking will keep the skin crisp and lock in moisture in the chicken. Dust the chicken with a small amount of baking soda and rub it in before you season the chicken and slide it into the oven to bake.
Cauliflower can yellow when cooked in hard water. The Baking Soda Book recommends adding a little baking soda to the boiling water just before cooking keeps the vegetable white. Corn will also look brighter if you add a pinch of baking soda to the cooking water.
The Utah State University Cooperative Extension reports that adding baking soda to the soaking water for dry beans helps soften the beans so they'll cook faster. Use 3 qts. of water and a pinch of baking soda for every cup of dried beans and soak overnight. Drain off the soaking solution and add fresh water before cooking.
Leavening in Baking
Use baking soda as leavening in baked goods which contain acidic ingredients such as buttermilk or molasses. The acid reacts with the baking soda to release bubbles of carbon dioxide, which acts as leavening in the food, according to the Science of Cooking. Mix 1 tsp.of baking soda, 1 tsp. of cream of tartar and 1 tsp. of corn starch to create your own homemade baking powder.
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.