Cream of tartar is also known as potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate. It’s a white, crystalline, water-soluble powder of chemical formula K C4 H5 O6. In cookery, potassium bitartrate is known as cream of tarter.
Potassium bitartrate is produced during wine making. It forms during fermentation of grapes in wine casks where it’s collected and purified to form the white crystalline substance, commercially sold as cream of tartar. Wine making is the natural source of cream of tartar.
What is cream of tartar used for?
In baking, cream of tartar is added to beaten egg whites to stabilize them and increase their volume and warmth tolerance. The recipes that call for beaten egg whites include meringues, Lemon Chiffon Cake, fatless sponge cakes, swiss roll and angel food cake.
It can also be used in stabilizing whipped cream, especially when you need to coat or ice a cake using whipped cream.
It also prevents sugar syrup from crystallizing, so is used in making candy and can be used to reduce discolouration of boiled vegetables. It can also be used as an anti-caking agent.
Making Baking Powder
Cream of tartar can be used in making baking powder whose main ingredients are sodium bicarbonate (an alkaline), cream of tartar or monocalcium phosphate (acid) and cornstarch (a drying agent).
You can use cream of tartar to make baking powder at home but I don’t think it’s economical. My miniature 62g (2oz) tin of cream of tarter cost me three dollars.
How to Make Baking Powder from Cream of Tartar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (UK cornflour)
- 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
Mix all the ingredients and store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.
Point to Note: The proportion is 2 parts each cornstarch and cream of tartar to 1 part baking Soda (bicarbonate of soda)