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What’s Cream of Tartar?


Positive, we’ve all used it in truffles and cookies, however actually, what IS cream of tartar? Find out about this versatile ingredient and its function in baking, plus just a few substitutes that might prevent a last-minute journey to the shop!

Small open jar of cream of tartar with a gold measuring spoon of cream of tartar beside it.

If it’s not already in your pantry, you’ve positively seen it within the spice aisle of your grocery retailer: a mysterious, nondescript white powder that seems like a dairy product, however is definitely removed from it. In fact, I’m speaking about cream of tartar, the topic of as we speak’s submit and the ingredient that many bakers battle to wrap their heads round.

Cream of tartar is surprisingly not very creamy in any respect–it’s really an acid! Powdered tartaric acid, to be particular. Apparently sufficient, it’s a byproduct of winemaking that in some way grew to become a pantry staple. And thank goodness it did, as a result of it has so many makes use of in baking!

What Is Cream of Tartar Used For?

Cream of tartar wears many hats within the kitchen. It provides tang to snickerdoodles, stabilizes egg whites for fluffy angel meals truffles and light-as-air meringues, and prevents sugar from crystallizing for easy syrups and chewy cookies.

When paired with baking soda, cream of tartar offers baked items rise. In actual fact, this precise mixture is what makes up baking powder! However you already knew that should you learn my submit on baking powder vs. baking soda. 🙃

Cream of tartar is extremely versatile and is an absolute must-have for all bakers, irrespective of their skillset. A lot of you may have commented to inform me that you just don’t hold any readily available, and I extremely counsel you begin. It has an extremely lengthy shelf life (some say it lasts eternally!) so long as you retain it in an hermetic container away from moisture and pests. Should you occur to search out some at the back of your cupboard, simply ensure it’s nonetheless white, powdery, and has little to no scent, and you need to be good to go!

SAM’S TIP: A few of you may have requested should you can add cream of tartar to whipped cream to stabilize it. When you might, it does impart a barely tangy taste that doesn’t swimsuit each recipe. This is the reason I take advantage of gelatin in my stabilized whipped cream; it blends in with the cream flawlessly and is totally undetectable if accomplished correctly!

Close-up of a gold measuring spoon scooping white powder out of a small container.

Cream of Tartar Substitutes

We’ve all been there…in the midst of making a recipe that you just thought you had all of the components for, whenever you notice you’re lacking only one. If that “only one” occurs to be cream of tartar, it’s possible you’ll be in luck! Whereas I imagine it’s all the time finest to make use of the actual factor, you can strive these substitutes that others have used efficiently. Word: I haven’t tried all of those myself, so I can’t assure their outcomes. Should you strive one, I’d actually recognize it should you let me know the way it labored for you within the feedback!

  • White vinegar. This one is a simple even substitution! For each one teaspoon of cream of tartar, substitute one teaspoon of white vinegar. Word that vinegar can add undesirable taste to your closing product, so hold that in thoughts when substituting.
  • Lemon juice. That is beginning to sound acquainted, isn’t it? Each white vinegar and lemon juice can be utilized to make my buttermilk substitute, they usually can function cream of tartar substitutes too! You’ll wish to double the measurement earlier than substituting lemon juice, so for each one teaspoon of cream of tartar, you’ll wish to add two teaspoons of lemon juice.
  • Baking powder. As we’ve already decided, baking powder is made out of cream of tartar and baking soda. So, in case you have baking powder, you technically have cream of tartar too! You’ll be able to substitute 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder for each 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Word: this solely works in recipes that already embody baking soda as an ingredient.
  • Buttermilk. Buttermilk can also be acidic, so it may well work equally; nevertheless, this substitution will solely work in recipes that use a liquid, like milk, oil, or water. For one teaspoon of cream of tartar you’ll must substitute 2 cups of the liquid with buttermilk. So should you solely want half a teaspoon, you’d change 1 cup of the liquid, ¼ teaspoon could be ½ cup of the liquid, and so forth. As you’ll be able to see, this substitution received’t work for each recipe.

SAM’S TIP: In some circumstances, your recipe should work with out cream of tartar. Should you’re utilizing it to stabilize egg whites, your egg whites can nonetheless end up, however they is probably not as steady. Recipes that use cream of tartar to stop crystallization can nonetheless be made with out it; you’ll simply must reheat the completed product if crystallization happens.

Overhead view of a gold measuring spoon scooping cream of tartar out of its container.

Ceaselessly Requested Questions

Is cream of tartar the identical as baking soda?

No. Whereas they give the impression of being related and are sometimes used collectively, they’ve very completely different makes use of on their very own. You’ll be able to learn extra about baking soda in my submit describing the variations between baking powder vs. baking soda.

Are you able to substitute cornstarch for cream of tartar?

No. Cornstarch is a starch used for thickening, whereas cream of tartar is an acid used for leavening, stabilizing, and stopping crystallization. They play completely completely different roles in baking and should not thought-about substitutes for each other.

What does cream of tartar style like?

Carefully, it’s going to give your baked items a pleasing tangy taste. Including an excessive amount of will impart a bitter or bitter style, so watch out!

Small open jar of cream of tartar with a gold measuring spoon of cream of tartar beside it.

Recipes

Now that we’ve cracked the code on this ingredient, let’s put it to make use of! Listed here are a few of my favourite recipes that depend on the powers of cream of tartar:

And plenty of, many extra…have I satisfied you to maintain it in your pantry but?!

Let’s bake collectively! Comply with me on Instagram, and you can too discover me on YouTube and Fb.

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