Discover the Uses for Cream of Tartar – What Is Cream of Tartar
Do you have one of those little 2oz bottles of Cream of Tartar in your spice cabinet? You probably purchased it for a specific recipe, used a teaspoon or so, and then put it back on the self – never to be used again.
The good news – cream of tartar lasts just about forever if stored in a cool, dry environment, so you’re covered. There are many cream of tartar uses for your home. But what is cream of tartar?
A few months ago I wrote a little cheat sheet for baking substitutions to keep in the cupboard and shared it with you. One person, M-K-H, asked this question: “I think that while your baking substitutions cheat sheet is interesting, is the person that doesn’t have baking powder on hand REALLY likely to have cream of tartar just laying around?
Probably not M-K-H, but if they don’t they should!
Cream of tartar, (potassium hydrogen tartrate) is a fine white powder that forms inside wine barrels during the wine making process. It helps to help control the pH of fermenting grape juice and also acts as a preservative for the wine.
It has been used by creative cooks for centuries and it is often used as a major component in baking powder. Combined with baking soda it will react when moistened to help baked goods rise.
Culinary Uses for Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is used as a stabilizing agent and is added:
- To beaten egg whites to increase their stability and volume and help them withstand and maintain shape at higher temperatures.
- To candies or frostings to give them a creamier texture.
- Gingerbread house icing as it prevents sugar crystallization.
- To boiled vegetables to reduce discoloration.
- To stabilize whipped cream, helps to maintain its texture and volume.
- To prevent the crystallization of sugar syrups.
Additionally it is used as a component of:
- Baking powder, as an acid ingredient to activate baking soda. Mix 2 parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda and you have baking powder.
- Sodium-free salt substitutes, in combination with potassium chloride (check with your doctor before using this as a salt replacement).
Household Uses for Cream of Tartar
This is where Cream of Tartar really “shines”:
- Mixed with an acidic liquid such as lemon juice or white vinegar, make a paste to clean metal pans such as brass, aluminum or copper.
- Mix with water to remove light stains from porcelain.
- Make a paste out of cream of tartar and lemon juice and apply to laundry stains. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then throw it in the wash.
- Make your own “play-dough”
- Make diy slime without glue or borax (see video below)
- Mix it into a paste with hydrogen peroxide and clean rust from garden hand tools. According to Wikipedia – The paste is applied and allowed to set for a few hours and then washed off with a baking soda/water solution. Another rinse with water, a thorough drying and a thin application of oil will protect the file from further rusting.
- I’ve also heard that mixing it into a paste with vinegar will repel ants, but I haven’t tried it myself. You could try placing the paste over their “ant highways” and see if it will keep them out of the house.
Cream of Tartar Substitutes from Frugalliving.about.com
If you don’t have any cream of tartar in your pantry, you can use one of these substitutes in its place:
- For beating egg whites – use an equal amount of white vinegar or lemon juice, or omit the cream of tartar entirely
- As a leavening agent – replace the baking soda and the cream of tartar in the recipe with baking powder. One teaspoon of baking powder replaces 1/3 tsp of baking soda and 2/3 tsp cream of tartar
- For frosting – leave the cream of tartar out. No substitution is necessary
If you, like me, have that small bottle of Cream of Tartar in your spice cabinet, it’s time to check it for freshness. Under most conditions found in a spice cabinet, (dark and dry) cream of tartar will last for many years.
Inspect your bottle. The contents should look dry and powdery. If you see any clumps, the cream of tartar may have taken on some water or other liquid.
Look at the color. The product should be clean and pure white, without yellow or dark spots.
If you see any discoloration, it may be contaminated with other spices. If you’ve had it for awhile it’s probably best to discard the bottle and purchase a new batch.
Smell it. Shake a small amount of the product into your hand and smell it. Fresh cream of tartar has a mild flavor, but if it’s old, you won’t notice any scent. See the full article here.
Cream of tartar final thoughts
But it’s SO EXPENSIVE!
I’ll agree with you there…Look for cream of tartar in bulk at craft stores or online. The most expensive way to purchase it is, in your supermarket’s baking aisle, in that little 2oz jar (costing a whopping $40 a pound, yikes!). Look around online, where you can find it for about $10 a pound.
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Hi, I’m Gabriela and I’m a prepping freak with a knack for frugal living – as if you could have one without the other. I’m also interested in all things DIY, green living, and homesteading. I’ve been dreaming of a self-sufficient, one-acre organic farm ever since I realized how fragile urban life really is. It takes one push of a button for millions to be left without running water. It takes no more than a four- to seven-day disruption in a city’s food supply for complete mayhem to break out. So, I’m now dutifully working toward keeping my loved ones safe when the brown matter (inevitably) hits the oscillating ceiling device, but I also like to share what I’m learning with fellow likeminded folks as I go.