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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Will baking soda make chili GERD-friendly?

How long does it take for the odor of baking soda mixed into chili last? Will it ruin the taste of the chili?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Black Bean Chili - click for recipe!

I have not tried this technique in chili. The experiment with using baking soda in the tomato sauce took about eleven tries before I felt that it was just right. Using a pH meter and finding the least amount that would make an acid neutral sauce and not ruin the taste took time.

That Low-Acid Tomato Sauce recipe makes about 5 cups total (10 1/2-cup servings). Depending on the volume of your chili recipe you could use this as a guide. In your recipe you might start very low and add baking soda in a half-teaspoon at a time. Keep in mind that the baking soda also adds sodium and you will need less salt in the overall recipe.

The other issue with chili is that it is sometimes the spice and not the acidity that causes the problem. Using only cumin as your spice might help, and adding in chili powder and other spices only to the level you can tolerate is one strategy.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet