tangy meringue

Joined May 2, 2003
I just made dry meringues ('Swiss'?) for the first time, using the recipe in the late 90s edition of Joy of Cooking (metric edition). The result is rather TANGY meringues... I think either they got the quantity of cream of tartar wrong, or Australian tartaric acid is a different strength... can anyone enlighten me?

The recipe says (key ingredients):
125ml egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
200g sugar

Now, my tartaric acid weighs 5g/tsp, so in this recipe I have used 2.5g. It is finely granular, rather like castor sugar.

125ml egg whites = 3-4 egg whites

Madaleine Kamman only uses 1/8 tsp for 6 egg whites, so I assume it *is* JOC which has got it wrong?



Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
You don't need that much acid. You can try coupla drops of white vinegar as well. Don't ask cooks this question, ask the people who hang out in the pastry section. They at least can count to ten :)

Joined Jan 15, 2001
I've never encountered cream of tartar in granular form, it's usually a fine powder----like baking soda or baking powder. I suspect that was your culprit in the recipe. Dry meringues are ususally "French meringue" while Swiss you heat both sugar and whites over double boiler until warm, then whip them up. Kuan is right, you don't need a lot of tartar in the recipe.
Joined May 1, 2001
Found this in the web at http://www.aeb.org/eggcyclopedia/cream-of-tartar.html

An acid ingredient which stabilizes beaten egg whites. As a rule of thumb, use 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar per egg white or 1 teaspoon per cup of egg whites. For meringues, use 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar for each 2 egg whites.

I haven't any idea of the normal density of American CofT, but it looks like you're using twice the required amount by volume.

Joined May 2, 2003
Thanks for the answers and the interesting link too, folks. :) In the meantime I have also discovered that cream of tartar and tartaric acid aren't quite the same thing (the former includes potassium). Whether that has any further effect I don't know... the research continues. Fact remains that I had too much of the stuff in my meringues. Black mark on that recipe.

Joined Jul 18, 2000
ahhh, the ye olde meringue thingy.

You dont actually need the cream of tartar/tartaric acid. A pastry chef went to great lengths to explain to me that the only use for a acid in a meringue is to cut the fats that will retard the foaming of the mix.

a good practice to use is to wash out all implements liberally with a cup of white vinegar, a handfull of salt and hot water (i.e. if using a mixer, bowl and whisk).

after prepping the equipment like this, wipe clean with paper towelling, and then go ahead, sans cream of tartar.

see how you go, if the mixture doesnt foam up properly, then the sugar ratio is not right, but the recipe sounds right.

i prefer the italian meringue method (egg whites and caramel) because it seems more stable.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Kuan, that's a dirty, stinking lie!!! I (and I am sure others) can count to 10!!!
:p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p

See I told you.....no problem!!!
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