Aluminum Free Baking Powder

Aluminum Free Baking Powder

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You can easily make your aluminum free baking powder at home that will offer the same rise as commercial baking powder.

by Hannah McClure  Have you ever looked at the ingredients of your baking supplies and thought, “What is that in there for?” Honestly, you could say that to almost anything if you look at what’s inside. The ingredients they put in our foods, drinks, and even self-care items can often be alarming. One ingredient I recently started looking for and trying to filter out is sodium aluminum phosphate. Sodium aluminum phosphate is an ingredient used commonly in processed cheeses and baking powder. Baking powder. That ingredient is used in many recipes for many delicious baked goods. It is also used by food manufacturers in several products such as cookies, prepackaged cakes, crackers, and tortillas to name a few. In baked goods, sodium aluminum phosphate is used as an acid that is heat activated and works with other leavening ingredients during baking to cause it to rise. On the other end of the kitchen so to speak, it is used in processed cheeses to offer a smooth and soft texture that helps the cheese to melt or be sliced easily.   

It seems there are a lot of ingredients you hear people are trying to eliminate from their diets and homes. Some are doing it to live healthier and others find themselves dealing with allergies that cause them to ditch certain ingredients. It can feel like a gray area knowing what to be concerned about and what is truly safe for us. So how do you sift through it all?

Let’s start with the basics. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act is a set of laws passed in 1938 by the U.S. Congress giving the FDA the authority to oversee the safety of our food, medical devices, and cosmetics. Part of these laws requires that the FDA evaluate any ingredient going into food … unless it is a GRAS ingredient. A GRAS ingredient has been approved by the FDA as a “Generally recognized as safe” ingredient. Sodium aluminum phosphate is recognized as a GRAS ingredient by the FDA. This means the ingredient can be used in any food, medical, or cosmetic in any amount without further being evaluated by the FDA. So, if sodium aluminum phosphate is generally safe, why are people trying to filter out this ingredient?   

Sodium aluminum phosphate is considered a phosphorous ingredient. While phosphorous is an essential mineral to our bodies, excessive consumption of it may cause harm to the kidneys, especially in those with underlining or already existing kidney conditions. Additionally, excessive exposure to aluminum may have adverse reproductive and neurological health issues. While aluminum is generally considered safe, it also offers no health benefits. With this information in hand and knowing some of my family’s medical history, I decided that the harm comes in overexposure and not in under-exposure.

My kitchen is not set up as a science lab with the correct materials needed to measure our exposure daily to sodium aluminum phosphate. Therefore, for our family, it is easier to limit and even avoid it completely. By baking and cooking from scratch at home, I can control the ingredients that go into our meals and desserts. Making sure my baking powder is sodium aluminum phosphate-free is easy by choosing to buy baking powder that is “aluminum-free,” or I can make my own. If you find yourself wanting to reduce your exposure or eliminate it, you can easily make your aluminum free baking powder at home and be assured the ingredients are simple and will offer the same rise as commercial baking powder.   

Bulk Homemade Aluminum-Free Baking Powder   

  • 1/2 cup baking soda  
  • 1 cup cream of tartar  
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot powder   
  1. Stir together all three ingredients into a small mixing bowl.   
  2. Using a funnel, sift your baking powder mixture into a quart size canning jar.  
  3. Store in a cool spot with an airtight lid.  

Note: Arrowroot powder helps prevent clumping. If you are missing it, you can leave it out completely or use cornstarch in its place.

Originally published in the January/February 2023 issue of Countryside and Small Stock Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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