Baking Science: What is Cream of Tartar?
You’ve seen Cream of Tartar creep up in ingredient lists from time to time, but what is it? Can you substitute something for it?
What is Cream of Tartar?
Cream of tartar is a white powdery ingredient that has acidic properties. It is a byproduct of wine making. It is often confused with tartaric acid, however, they are not the same thing. Cream of tartar is tartaric acid mixed with potassium hydroxide and therefore less acidic than straight tartaric acid.
Cream of tartar not only has many uses in baking but can also be used as a cleaning solution similar to how you would use baking soda as an alternative to bleach.
Cream of Tartar Uses
- Stabilizes egg whites
- Provides acidic/ tangy flavor
- Anti-caking agent
- Strengthens whipped cream
Does Cream of Tartar Expire?
Cream of tartar doesn’t really expire. Make sure you keep it in an airtight container in a spot that doesn’t get too hot or too humid and your cream of tartar should last indefinitely!
Alternatives for Cream of Tartar
The thing about cream of tartar is that many people who don’t bake often, and even some people who do bake often, do not keep it on hand. If you don’t keep it on hand you can substitute it in a couple of different ways.
- 1 teaspoon of Lemon Juice or Vinegar for every 1/2 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder for every 1 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar
4 Comments on “Baking Science: What is Cream of Tartar?”
Thanks for this. I actually have some in my cabinet but it rarely comes up in anything and when it does I always wondered why and what it’s purpose is. Thanks for the information.
Sometimes I cheat. Like making the apple cake. Sometimes I put apples and brown sugar in the bottom of the pan and then makes up a cake mix using two eggs and a half a cup of melted butter and then put the streusel on top. I used to never use a cake mix but about 20 years ago, I’m 83, I got a book named things to make with a cake mix. I bake for some of the service people in the neighborhood and I probably use 10 cake mixes a month. Your ideas are really smashing. You kind of like me you mix it up your way. Nothing like taking something somewhere and they really like it they want the recipe and you think oh my gosh, I took something from three different recipes to make this I’m not sure I can put it together again.
Cake mixes can be a great tool for speeding up the process! I also really love pulling together recipe components from different sources. It’s the best way to customize to what you are really looking for.