How to use Cream of Tartar – A versatile ingredient!

How to use cream of tartar? This incredible ingredient is ever present in our day to day lives. If not in one of your recipes, then you definitely have spotted cream of tartar in the spice aisles in markets and grocery stores. Its unassuming appearance won’t give away its many incredible uses, this is why I have decided to take matters into my own hands and (hopefully) open your eyes.

See how can you substitute for cream of tartar.

Know your Stuff: Cream of Tartar


Let’s face it, as common as it might be, some people haven’t come across with cream of tartar, and its name doesn’t really give you a clue on either its appearance or its use. In fact, it is a rather misleading name, if you think of baking powder or baking soda, you might not know what they really are, but you do now they are used in cooking.

A fact that I found rather striking was that surrounding its production. This white powder is, in fact, a by-product of wine production. Once the wine has settled in the barrel, the sediment which is left is scraped off and then cleaned and ground. The result? Cream of tartar.

Now, let us go into what you must be asking yourselves now: Why in God’s name is it called cream? Well, I don’t have a fact based answer, but my guess is: because it helps creamy stuff come to be. You want a creamier egg white mixture? Add cream of tartar; You want creamier whipped cream? Add cream of tartar. Anyway, this might have nothing to do with it but it is one of the theories J.

If you have a problem calling a powdery substance cream, then feel free to use one of the chemical names: potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate.

Culinary uses of Cream of Tartar


The best feature about cream of tartar is it can last forever. Of course, provided that you keep it in an air-tight container in a dark and cold place. Feel free to add to your baked goods for the best results, and here’s how:

Perfect Meringue

When preparing this fancy looking dessert, the key to it being successful lies in well-formed peaks. Well, adding 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar for each egg will ensure you get the perfect result. What happens is the acidic power of cream of tartar stabilizes the egg whites and ensures the final product is fluffy even after long hours of baking in the oven.

Perfect Whipped Cream

Adding a pinch of cream of tartar while whisking the whipped cream will help it and prevent it deflate. It will also make or the brightest, smoothest whipped cream ever!

Perfect Veggies

When prepared boiled vegetables they tend to lose their color due to the heat. Well, adding half a teaspoon of cream of tartar into the pot they are boiling in, will refrain the vegetables from losing their color and they will be as vibrant as ever!

Gluten Free Baking Powder

Unlike store bought brands (with the exception of some) baking powder is not a product people with gluten intolerance should take. But, you can now make your own using cream of tartar and baking soda. The ratio should be 2: 1.

Other (non-food) Ways to Use Cream of Tartar


Making your baked goods shine is not the only power cream of tartar has to show. In fact, you will be surprised in how many different spheres it can be helpful.

Fresh and Clean Clothing

You can use cream of tartar to freshen your white clothes and to remove stains from them. If you want to keep your whites bright then use cream of tartar and water. A simple presoak, one tablespoon in a quart of water. To remove stains, make a paste-like solution out of cream of tartar and a lemon squeeze. Spread the paste over the stain and let it work for around an hour or two; continue washing the clothes as usual. The paste is extremely effective with ink stains! Say the collar of your favorite shirt got stained, no worries, dampen the area with water, use cream of tartar and lemon paste, and rub it into the stain. Let it sit for an hour and wash as you usually would.

Preparing Playdough

Playdough is one of those things no kid, or adult for that matter, can be partial to. And as it is with many other things, preparing your own is always a great idea. Among the ingredients you will need to prepare it, you will need a tablespoon of cream of tartar. The other ingredients include a cup of flour, a cup of water, a cup of salt, a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and by preference you can even add 3-5 drops of food coloring. If wet and sticky, add more flour, if too dry add more water.

Removing Rust

Say goodbye to the rust on what used to be your favorite pan. A rust removing solution made by mixing a teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1/4 cup of baking soda and a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide just to form a paste. Cover the rust spot, let it sit for 30 minutes, and wipe the surface clean.

Unclogging Drains

If you end up with a clogged drain, built up hair and gunk will go away if you pour a mixture of 1/4 cup of salt, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and a tablespoon of cream of tartar followed by a cup of water. Let it sit for half an hour, run hot water through the drain and it will unclog.

Bye-bye ants

Sprinkling cream of tartar over the driveway and sidewalks will deter annoying ants from your yard. Don’t worry if you have pets, if it is safe for humans to consume it, it won’t be harmful to them either. Bet you didn’t think you could use cream of tartar as a pesticide, did you?

I hope you’ve learned a thing or two more about this incredible ingredient. Sometimes the solution to a problem is in plain sight, and sometimes it is the solution to miscellaneous problems!


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