Certain brands of baking powder have replaced, along the years and some warnings, sodium-aluminum phosphate by monocalcium phosphate. Aluminum is being removed (other brands still use it) but it is being replaced by the most acidifying phosphate of all the phosphate additives. Phosphates are to be avoided in food, they are harmful, so all baking powder, even those containing no aluminum, should be avoided if the word phosphate is found in the ingredients list. And for my part, I also avoid corn starch because I know it is genetically modified.
Baking powder and sodium bicarbonate are commonly used in pastry making. In fact, even our grandmothers were already using these ingredients! They did not just appear yesterday. But what exactly are they? What about their safety and use? Should we prioritize some kind of baking powder and/or baking soda more than another? I will try to demystify the whole thing for you and allow you to be enlightened in your choices, when you next purchase these ingredients.
Unlike baker's yeast used to bake bread in bakery, baking powder and sodium bicarbonate (soda) serve to make the pastry recipes raise: pancakes, waffles, biscuits, cakes, muffins etc. Therefore, it is necessary not to confuse these lifting agents with the yeast used for bread.
It is mainly composed of basic and acidic ingredients that enable it to accomplish its action. The basic ingredient used is sodium bicarbonate. With regard to the acid ingredient, cream of tartar is usually added, which is actually a by-product of wine making. Then, an ingredient is added which will stabilize the food chemistry created by the basic-acid mixture. This ingredient will be a starch (corn starch, tapioca starch). Thus, as a base, one can even make one's own baking powder and in turn, having a product without any food additive. Here's how:
Homemade Baking Powder
• 1/4 cup (65 mL) tapioca starch or organic corn starch so no GMO
• 1/4 cup (65 mL) cream of tartar
• 45 mL (3 tbsp.) sodium bicarbonate (soda)
The Safety of Baking Powder:
One of the first problems encountered in the purchase of commercial baking powder is the use of corn starch which is, if the product is not organic, a genetically modified maize starch. And if we want to exclude corn from our diet, several baking powders will not be suitable. But the biggest problem is that the agro-food industry is increasingly using phosphate additives. We can never repeat it enough: we must eliminate phosphates from our diet; they are harmful to our health. Indeed, phosphate additives are particularly dangerous because, unlike phosphates found in staple foods such as chocolate, whole grains, milk etc., the phosphate additives are assimilated very quickly by the body. The ingredients
contained in the baking powder must therefore be carefully monitored and avoiding at all costs those containing monocalcium phosphates (the most acid of all calcium phosphates), sodium aluminum phosphate (containing, in addition to phosphate, Aluminum, a heavy metal to avoid) as well as all other ingredients containing the word phosphate.
The use of baking powder in the organic agro-food industry:
Baking powder is one of the ingredients allowed in organic agro-food processing, but it is governed by strict controls ensuring its safety. It is therefore obvious that the use of non-organic maize starch is prohibited. In organic, a tapioca starch will often be used as a stabilizing ingredient. Then, the phosphates are prescribed. The sodium bicarbonate used in the baking powder must have the same approved characteristics as you will read below in the section of this ingredient (no synthetic form accepted). The acid agent mainly used is calcium sulfate but very strict standards surround this ingredient and it must absolutely:
"... be processed to ensure high purity, naturally without sulfate dehydrate (gypsum)." Treatment is limited to fine grinding, pneumatic separation and/or exposure to high temperatures. It is not derived or formulated from any products of the bovine industry.
This product is made from natural minerals and is not derived from sulfuric acid.’’
Sodium bicarbonate (commonly known as soda) is also included in the composition of pastry recipes. As it interacts with acidic ingredients to perform its lifting action properly, if the prepared recipe does not contain enough acidic ingredients, then baking powder will be added to the recipe. Sodium bicarbonate has a more pronounced taste than baking powder, so I use it more sparingly and often by combining it with baking powder.
The safety of sodium bicarbonate:
Again, we must be vigilant. The agro-food industry has become a master in the artificial formulations of ingredients which are nevertheless in the natural state. In organic production, therefore, it is necessary to ensure that the sodium bicarbonate is not of synthetic form. It must have these criteria:
"Contains no ingredients other than minerals and its natural impurities". The mines where the natural soda is extracted are covered with a natural deposit of sodium bicarbonate to a depth of about 2000 feet. In the extraction process, the bicarbonate is dissolved and pumped into a processing plant that recrystallizes, dries, filters and packages. Sodium is produced without any chemical transformation."
I hope that these few explanations will allow you to shed light on these two ingredients and will allow you to make an informed purchase. Good food for all!