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November 24, 2012

The Pantry Quiz #10

Cream of tartar.

Which is which?

Time for a bit of kitchen science. Each of the following common pantry ingredients is an acid or a base (alkali). Which ones are acids, and which are bases?

1. Baking soda
2. Cream of tartar
3. Baking powder
4. Flour
5. Maple syrup

__________

Please leave your answer in the comments, and let us know whether you have these ingredients in your pantry.

[Last week's answer: My favorite pantry ingredient for Thanksgiving cooking is thyme. I use it in everything. Thanks for sharing your favorites, and I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.]

You can find most answers to The Pantry Quiz by using the search box at right, at the top of the page, to hunt for clues. Come back next Saturday for the answer to today's quiz question.

Comments

Baking soda BASIC
Cream of Tartar BASIC
Baking Powder BASIC
Flour BASIC
Maple Syrup ACID

I have all these ingredients in my pantry all the time.

I am guessing that Maria's answer is right, but honestly I don't know!

1. Baking soda - Acid
2. Cream of tartar - Acid
3. Baking powder - Acid
4. Flour - Base
5. Maple syrup - Base

I have all these items in my pantry!

I'll split the difference:
ACID -- Cream of Tartar, flour, maple syrup
ALKALINE (base) -- Baking Soda
I know you say baking powder is also acidic, but how could it be -- the chemistry is to combine an acid with a base to react with each other -- doesn't that make is neutral? at least, the end result is neutral.
At least I know they're all in my pantry too.

NaHCO3, sodium carbonate or baking soda, is an acid salt that is considered to be amphoteric, which means that it has both acidic and basic qualities. For culinary purposes, it's alkaline.

Potassium bitartrate, or cream of tartar, is also an acid salt...but it's acidic. It's considered to be the potassium acid salt of tartaric acid.

Baking powder is basically a mixture of the two items above, and its leavening action works its magic because of the acid-base reaction that occurs when baking soda and cream of tartar get wet. It's both an acid and a base, since it has two ingredients.

As for flour and maple syrup, whether or not they're acidic or basic tends to depend mostly upon processing methods. There are about a million charts available online that will claim one is acidic, or one is basic, but in strict chemical definitions, they're damn near neutral. Sugars will probably be considered to be acidic for this exercise though, so we'll stick w/that.
I'll say that flour is basic, but it's very close to neutral despite all the colorful charts claiming that its alkaline or acidic. Chemistry doesn't provide for flour to be strongly either way!

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