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What is cream of tartar and its uses in the kitchen

21 mayo, 2021

Imagine that today we are ready to prepare some homemade pastries. We start by preheating the oven, we place our ingredients on the counter, we weigh them, but wow! at the end of the recipe they ask us cream of tartar, but what is that?

Well, cream of tartar is a white powder, without a specific flavor and whose chemical name is potassium bitartrate, an acidic salt. It was first isolated in 1769 by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele but is found naturally in many plants. It was already known to Greeks and Romans, as it appeared as a sediment in wine barrels when it aged as a by-product of the grape, crystallizing at its base and forming a kind of crust.

Uses of cream of tartar

Cream of tartar is used very frequently, more than we think, in the food industry. Is he additive named E-334, and its use extends mainly as one of the ingredients of the chemical yeast used in confectionery, in the wine industry as a corrector of the acidity of wine, as well as for the preparation of carbonated beverages such as soda. Also in candies, candies, chewing gum, canned vegetables, jams, brines, sauces, dehydrated soups and other products.

But what is cream of tartar used for in our recipes?


Well, at home, the most common is to use it as stabilizer for egg whites when we prepare meringues, royal icing for decorating butter cookies, soufflés and even to get a firmer whipped cream.

Although we can also use it to get doughs with more volume, because as I mentioned before, it is part of the bakery chemical boosters together with sodium bicarbonate. These act when they come into contact with the humidity of the dough and not dry, that is why they can be packaged in the same envelope. They are also sometimes added to candies or toppings to give them a creamier texture as it helps to avoid sugar crystallization cooked as well as in the manufacture of fondant for creative pastry.

In the beginning, cream of tartar was bought in pharmacies and chemical product dispatches, today it is often found in specialty confectionery stores where they usually sell it by weight and even large food stores, where bakery brands already pack it in small containers as a product for the preparation of regular pastry.

cream of tartar

The expiration date of cream of tartar is approximately one year, which is why due to the small proportions of this product to be used in our recipes, it is not advisable to obtain large quantities. However, it is interesting to know that in the case of having cream of tartar in our pantry always we can prepare our own baking powder or baking powder.

The proportions would be as follows, half a teaspoon of cream of tartar plus a quarter teaspoon of baking soda plus a quarter teaspoon of cornstarch or cornstarch. So we get a “homemade” chemical booster for our cakes and cookies.

The doses to be used are usually adjusted according to the amount of ingredients but as a general rule it would be one eighth of a teaspoon per white, approximately like the tip of a coffee spoon, not being advisable to exceed the doses indicated in the recipe. In any case, if on any occasion they ask you for cream of tartar in a preparation and you do not have it, know that it can be substituted for the same amount of lemon juice or vinegar, or even for the envelope that contains the acidic compound of the classic soft drinks. or litines that you can find in the supermarket.

Image | Bokchoi-snowpea
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