Tuesday, December 30, 2008

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day!

Hark, the cock crows, and yon bright star
Tells us the day himself's not far...
With him oft Janus doth appear,
Peeping into the future year.
'Tis he! the two-faced Janus comes in view...
But smiles upon the new
Emerging year with pride;
And now unlocks with agate key
The ruby gates of orient day...
William Hone

You are not going to believe what day today is...It's National Bicarbonate of Soda Day! "Baking Soda Day, celebrates the numerous benefits and usages of Bicarbonate of Soda." What is Baking Soda, actually? How does it work? These are only a two of the questions I asked myself while preparing for this post. Although there were quite a few resources abounding on the internet, I thought it best to Hit the books! I digress...It's a Helpful "Friend in Need" which also aids in the preparation of "Good Things to Eat."

In 1791, a French chemist produced sodium bicarbonate as we know it today. But it was only in 1846 that two New York bakers, John Dwight and Austin Church, developed the process of making baking soda from sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide. Each started a company, and the two companies later merged to form Church & Dwight, the makers of Arm & Hammer baking soda.
Baking soda is a very versatile natural substance that can be seen used throughout history and was first recognized by bakers to make breads. Baking soda trapped carbon dioxide in the ingredients of the bread causing it to rise. Bakers have used sodium bicarbonate, baking soda, through out our history to make cakes, breads and to bake other types of dough that rise. The use of baking soda in baking continues today...all about baking soda

Helpful Health Hints

Church & Dwight Co., Inc., founded in 1846, claims to be the leading U.S. producer of sodium bicarbonate; baking soda. The pictured booklet of Helpful Health Hints was published by them in 1949.

"Good health and good sense are two of life's greatest blessings."
Publius Syrus

From the foreword:

This book is not designed to tell how to treat or diagnose disease. Diagnose of disease and medical treatment require painstaking examination, judgement, and observation of the patient...In 1846 John Dwight and Dr. Austin Church founded the Baking Soda business in the Western Hemisphere. For many years our products, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and Cow Brand Baking Soda have served the public well both in the kitchen and as a home remedy. They have constantly grown in favor with the housewife and medical profession and today one or the other of these famous brands can be found in almost every community in the country. Both are pure Bicarbonate of Soda and, because of universal demand and wide distribution, are available everywhere at low cost...Bicarbonate of soda (Baking Soda) probably has more uses in medicine than any other remedy, but it is for use in the great many cases which do not require the personal services of a physician that these pages are written.

The booklet offers many of the common uses we now associate with baking soda. It touts the benefits of baking soda as a stomach neutralizer, or as an aid to indigestion. It also suggests its use as an aid for itching, body odor, sunburn, "wax in the ear", gargle, and as a way to make castor oil more palatable.

Insect Bites: Baking soda, either in solution or paste, is a soothing application for insect bites, superficial burns, and itching of hives.
Castor Oil Sandwich: Castor Oil may be made palatable with orange juice and Arm & Hammer, or Cw Brand, Baking Soda. Put the juice from half an orange in a glass, add the prescribed dose of castor oil, stir in one-fourth to one-half teaspoonful of Arm & Hammer, or Cow Brand, Baking Soda. Drink while effervescing.

Oh my, doesn't that sound inviting? Perhaps, it would be better to discuss another booklet titled Good Things to Eat also published by Arm & Hammer (Church & Dwight) in 1933. From the introduction:

Do you know the secret of Chocolate Cake, rich and delicate in flavor, soft and silky in texture? do you know the secret of Gingerbread that has the penetrating aroma, the true deep, rich, golden color? If you know these things, you know Baking Soda and the part it plays in making baking day a pleasure with a promise of sure success.

Sour Milk, Buttermilk, & Baking Soda

Sour Milk is best for baking purposes when it has reached the clabbered stage. The curd is thick and heavy, and the whey has not separated to any great extent. It should be kept in a clean, covered container. If milk is placed in the refrigerator as soon as it reaches the clabbered stage, it will remain in this condition for three or four days and it can be used as needed.

  1. 1/2 tsp. baking soda with 1 cup clabbered milk will leaven 2 cups flour.
  2. Buttermilk, if allowed to ripen for two days can be substituted for clabbered milk.
  3. 1 cup heavy sour cream can be substituted for 1/3 cup butter and 2/3 cup milk in any sour milk recipe.
  4. 1 cup thin sour cream can be substituted for 3 tablespoons butter and 3/4 cup milk in any sour milk recipe.
  5. Baking soda should not be mixed with the sour milk because in this way a good share of the gas, that should go to leaven the product, is lost. Baking soda should be sifted with the flour. This is an important factor in the success of these baking soda recipes. Treat Baking Soda as a dry ingredient.

Most of the recipes enclosed in the booklet we are all familiar with in one way or another. I did find one recipe which wasn't available in a google search. It is called, Shubert Tea bread. I'm also including a recipe for Mahogany Cake and Orange Sponge Cake. They are all scanned. Just click to make them bigger! If you're looking for another recipe published by Arm & Hammer, check out the New England Cruller recipe over at The Food Company Cookbooks blog. Yum!

I'm not going to be back in time to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I'm in the process of getting the monthly celebrations and food days ready for next year and let me tell you, January is FULL of GREAT things to eat. A comforting array of food celebrations which include, National Soup Month, National Oatmeal Month, National Hot Tea Month, Slow Cooking Month and National Wheat Bread Month are just a few celebrations greeting us in January 2009. 2009 also has its share of edible anniversaries. Rumford Baking Powder (1859) celebrates its 150 year anniversary, Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cookbook (1884) 125 year anniversary, and Rutgers Tomatoes were introduced in 1934. 75 years ago! I hope to explore these anniversaries and much more in the coming year...

Happy New Year!


  • 1. A little about baking soda
  • 2. Baking soda, bicarb soda, baking powder - what's the difference?
  • 3. Bicarbonate of Soda: The Magic Ingredient?
  • 4. "Green" uses for Baking Soda
  • 5. Church & Dwight Co., Inc.,