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 lying 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 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. So, if you want your meringue to stay firm and get a professional shine, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy then slowly add confectioners’ sugar. Use 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar for each egg white in the meringue recipe.
- 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.
- Remove persistent rust stains from the porcelain enamel in cast iron baths. Just mix 2 parts cream of tartar with one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) to form a paste. Cover the rust stains with this paste and let it sit for a couple of hours. Rinse off with warm water.
- 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”. Even though cream of tartar is as natural as it can be, look for a product that is GMO- and ETO-free, if you’re giving the play-dough to a baby or toddler (you don’t want your little angel to ingest any nasty chemicals). To make the play-dough, mix 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar with 1 cup all purpose white flour, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of salt, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and food dye. For the full recipe check out the link above. This playdough is all natural, perfectly safe for small children, and can last for months if it is stored in an airtight container.
- Make diy slime without glue or borax (see video below)
- Use cream of tartar for a full body detox to flush out the nicotine in your system and help yourself quit smoking faster. Cream of tartar will not only prompt your body to detox itself faster, but it will also replenish your potassium stores lost to smoking. Pair the cream of tartar with lemon juice too prevent vitamin C from being flushed out entirely from your body in the meanwhile. The only downside of this detox regimen is an upset stomach.
- Use it as a potassium supplement. Cream of tartar is between 16.5 and 20% potassium. So, it makes a great potassium supplement when you have too much o fit lying around. If you’re on a Keto diet, you can keep your electrolytes in check with it. Two servings of cream of tartar is the rough equivalent of a medium sized banana when it comes to potassium content.
- 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 half teaspoon of lemon juice, or omit the cream of tartar entirely and use a copper bowl instead – the copper alone should stabilize the egg whites;
- 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.
The Spanish cream of tartar maker Tartaros Gonzalo Castelló has been storing a decades-old sample of cream of tartar and teted it for freshness in a laboratory every year since the 90s. The sample is stored in a dry cool place and has been reportedly keeping its properties intact ever since.
So, even if the product has been gone past its best by date don’t toss it just yet. Inspect the 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.