HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jun 6, 2008 11:17 AM
Discussion

lye vs. baking soda for homemade pretzels

I want to make homemade pretzels, and my recipe calls for the lye bath. My beloved Alton Brown suggests baking soda instead. I like this idea, because I have it on hand. Does it work as well? Where does one buy lye? At the hardware store?

MK
motherskitchen.blogspot.com

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Actually I recall that Brown wanted to advocate lye but sort of legally had to nix it in favor of baking soda. I guess the network lawyers told him that there just wasn't enough time in a day, let alone a half hour to present enough warnings about the hazards to cover their legal butts.
    Neither here nor there..........sorry, I don't know how effective the soda method is and aside from drano, I don't know a source for lye. Good luck.

    1. I searched Freshloaf.com for possible sources of lye to make pretzels, and it seems that you can make a great product w/o the hassle of lye.

      http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/p...

      1. As far as I know lye is an extremely caustic, and dangerous substance. Nothing that an amature should be using. Long, long ago you used to be able to buy it in a supermarket, from the same shelf that had Draino and household cleaners. My mom used to buy it to make homemade laundry soap.

        Here are a couple of webs that might be of interest:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lye
        http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-lye.htm

        1. For fresh pretzels, baking soda is not alkaline enough to get the real crust. For pretzels that are going to be be completely dried hard, it makes less of a difference.

          For a primer on making pretzels in the Swabian manner:

          http://www.cs.uml.edu/~dm/brezla/

          1. I tried making them a while ago and used baking soda. They where a slimy mess and I've given up.

            there was a thread a bit ago regarding your question, but my seach didn't bring it up.

            Here's another one though:

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/505175

            hope it helps some.