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Dec 24, 2009 09:51 AM

Why add baking soda to dates?

I'm making sticky toffee pudding again this year for Christmas dinner and I'm wondering why all the recipes I've seen call for boiling the dates in water with baking soda. Every year I do this with a different recipe and it turns the date mixture a very putrid shade of green! This year I'm going to skip that step. Just wondering if anyone knows why dates need baking soda? I'm using fresh medjool dates - if I don't eat them all like candy first!

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  1. This has been a burning question for me as long as I've known about the existence of sticky toffee pudding. Every recipe I've ever seen calls for 1 tsp of baking soda. The only thing I can figure is that baking soda is mildly alkaline and dates have tannin and are astringent; the baking soda neutralizes the astringency and removes or lessens the tannin bitterness.
    That's my theory, anyway.
    I do know that, because dates contain chemicals that are acid/base indicators, the addition of baking soda, as a base, will turn the date mixture blue-green. This reaction may have to do with the type of pigment, anthocyanin, found in dates.

    Skip the step and let me know how it turns out. I'm dying to know.