Cream of tartar

Joined Jul 24, 2001
I want to ask if you use cream of tartar to prepare your meringues.

Do you have better results with this mysterious acid?

What are the exact uses of cream of tartar?I mean is it only for the meringues?

Thank you
Joined May 29, 1999
i also use it to keep my sugar from re-crystalizing when boiling.

i use it in meringue for a tighter, longer lasting

also, when making tira mi su, i use it in the whites for the above purposes and the flavor, works well with madira.

you can make baking powder by adding togther baking soda, cream of tartar and corn starch.

off the top of my head i don't recall the ratios.

i think i use it in royal icing too.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
a) To mix your own baking powder, combine 1/4 tsp. baking soda with 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch. Blend well and use immediately, as this mixture loses potency with prolonged storage. (In the Sweet Kitchen)

b) It is also used in sweeteners used to reduce the level of aftertaste

c) It is also used to reduce discoloration in boiled vegetables such as artichokes-just add half a teaspoon to the water. Cream of tartar can also be made into a paste and used as a gentle cleaner for copper cookware. If used often, the copper will stay bright and shiny.

Joined Mar 7, 2002
Dearest Athenaeus,

You know not what Dear Abby goes through for you. She asks Chef Henri your interesting question about the Cream of Tartar. Dear Abby, who does not cook, imagines that it is a lovely dairy product.

Cream of Tartar, it turns out, is Tartaric Acid, Athenaeus! Think about it! If Dear Abby had overheard Chef Henri telling the butler that he was planning to add a touch of tartaric acid to her food every day, she would no doubt have feigned illness, refused to eat, locked herself in her room and called the police!

But tartaric acid (potassium tartrate), says Chef Henri, is nothing more than a common baking ingredient known as Cream of Tartar, one of the main ingredients in baking powder!

At this point, your Dear Abby was feeling rather foolish for asking. She does trust Henri implicitly with her cuisine, of course, but Henri is a temperamental chef, especially when he is on his "liquid diet." It is his habit of hurling spoons, or whatever else might be handy, across the room that makes her a bit uneasy!

So she posed a cautious query. "Henri, Dear Abby always defers to your good judgment in all matters culinary, you know that. But she prefers a natural diet. Is this chemical truly necessary?"

Dear Abby cringed as Chef Henri reached for a huge wooden spoon, then relaxed when he merely stirred the pot with it, muttering something about "Valentino is hiring" and "only the spoon knows......."

"Madame," Henri said through clenched teeth. "In MY opinion, which is the only one that matters in this kitchen, it is a useful ingredient.

As for being a chemical, Cream of Tartar is a natural substance from the juice of grapes after they have been fermented in wine-making. Grapes, Madame! The fruit of the vine. What could be more natural?

Tartaric acid is that fine white powder derived from an acid found on the inside of wine barrels after fermentation. It is one of the main ingredients in baking powder, where it reacts with baking soda to produce carbon dioxide, making lovely little air cells, tiny bubbles to leaven batters containing no yeast.

Madame, I use a dash of Cream of Tartar -- about 1/8 teaspoon per egg white, to stabilize beaten egg whites and add volume! In cake baking, Cream of Tartar contributes to a finer crumb and the cakes will rise beautifully. I know many cooks who leave it out, but if Madame is planning to insist that Henri use those pasteurized eggs, then Henri shall insist upon using Cream of Tartar! And that, Madame, is my last word on this matter. C'est fait!"

So, you see, Athenaeus, Dear Abby takes her life in her hands for you and risks the great Henri's displeasure. She does, however, very much enjoy learning.

Joined Mar 13, 2001
Also, when a non-acidic or alkaline ingredient is used to replace an acidic one in a recipe containing baking soda, such as sweet milk for buttermilk, cream of tartar should be added to ensure there is sufficient acid present to activate the baking soda.

Cream of tartar tends to clump, so always sift it before use, even though recipes rarely specify doing so. ;)


Joined Apr 4, 2000
I use it as a leveaner in my scones. Here's why:

As for leavener, we found that comercial double-acting powder can have a harsh flavour in scones. It also tends to be used in too much quantity in many scone recipes. Therefore, we used homemade sincgle-acting baking powder, made with two parts (one teaspoon) cream of tartar to one part (one half teaspoon) baking soda; it produces a scone that is sweeter and less soapy-flavoured than those made with commercial double-acting baking powder.

The Best Recipe

you have In the Sweet Kitchen right? Look up cream of tartar on page 197. If you don't have the book let me know I'll copy the information for you.
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Thanks for your inputs.

You see I know the theory, in school they have talked to us about the cream of tartar but in Europe we don't use it so extensively.

I saw it in some recipes here and I wondered if it's " a common" ingredient.

Isa thanks for offering to copy from the Sweet Kitchen but I have the book I just didn't have time to add a comment in your thread about this fantastic book.

I didn't know Kimmie's tip about cleaning copper utensils.Thanks Kimmie, I think that there is nothing that has to do with utensils that you don't know.

Dear Abby

My question about cream of tartar was aroused by Henry's recipe for the Kosher cake. When I saw it in his recipe my last doubts about his identity dissapeared. ;)
To tell you the truth I was ready to play the smart and write about the connection of cream of tartar and wine...but I should have known better.
When it comes to Dear Abby ( and Henry) , she just knows everything :)
Joined Dec 30, 1999
What are the exact uses of cream of tartar?

¥ Yeast
¥ Treatment of wines
¥ Biscuit Industry - Bakery - Confectionery
¥ Pharmaceutical Industry
¥ Tooth paste
¥ Treatment of metals - Wire drawing
¥ Pyrotechnics
¥ Glassware
¥ Clock and watchmaking

Cream of Tartar/ Tartaric Acid, also dihydroxy-succinic acid, potassium acid tartrate, potassium hydrogen tartrate, and potassium bitartrate, organic acid of formula C4H6O6, found in many plants and known to the early Greeks and Romans as tartar, the acid potassium salt derived as a deposit from fermented grape juice. The acid was first isolated in 1769 by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who boiled tartar with chalk and decomposed the product with sulfuric acid. Fermentation of the juices of grapes, tamarinds, pineapples, and mulberries produces, on the inner surface of the container, a white crust of potassium acid tartrate known as argol, or lees. Argol, boiled with dilute hydrochloric acid, precipitates as calcium tartrate when calcium hydroxide is added. Upon addition of dilute sulfuric acid, dextrotartaric acid is liberated, which rotates the plane of polarized light to the right. Dextrotartaric acid has a m.p. of 170 (338oF) and is extremely soluble in water and alcohol and insoluble in ether.

Another variety, called levotartaric acid, is identical to dextrotartaric acid except that it rotates the plane of polarized light to the left. This acid was first prepared from its sodium ammonium salt by the French chemist Louis Pasteur. Tartaric acid synthesized in the laboratory is a mixture of equal amounts of the dextro and levo acids, and this mixture, called also racemic tartaric acid, does not affect the plane of polarized light. A fourth variety, mesotartaric acid, also without effect on the plane of polarized light, is said to be internally compensated.

Tartaric acid, in either the dextrorotary or racemic form, is used as a flavoring in foods and beverages. It is used also in photography, in tanning, and as potassium sodium tartrate, also known as Rochelle salt, as a mild laxative. Potassium hydrogen tartrate, also called cream of tartar, is a pure form of argol that is used in baking powders and in various treatments of metals. Antimony potassium tartrate, also called Tartar emetic, Antimony potassium tartarate, also known as Tartar emetic, is used as snail fever-resistant drugs in the pharmaceutical industry, and in treatments of metals.

Cream of tartar is a dry acid that might be called for in a recipe; it cannot react with the baking soda until liquid is added. This type of baking powder releases its gases as soon as it is moistened. Most commonly, it is the acid component in baking powder that makes cakes and cookies and quick breads rise to reiterate those above.

It is commonly used in confectionery to impart tartness and round out the flavor profile as well as hydrolyze sugars. Acids present during cooking of the confection will contribute to disruption of hydrogen bonding in staarch to bring about more rapid starch breakdown and depolymerization.
Joined Mar 3, 2002
So, cchiu, which of the 4 forms do I want when I try to make mascarpone from a recipe I found that calls for tartaric acid? I thought I'd start off with trying cream of tartar since I have it in my cupboard and have nothing to lose but a half pint of cream.
Joined Dec 30, 1999

The Cream of Tartar would be the form of tartaric acid you would use for culinary applications.


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