What is cream of tartar? … is a question I get periodically … so I decided today would be a good time to post an answer since a number of upcoming recipes have it in their ingredient list.
The technical name for cream of tartar is potassium bitartrate … and according to Wikipedia, is formed during the fermentation process of grape juice into wine. Click here to read more.
It is widely used in cooking to stabilize egg whites, increasing their heat tolerance and volume. In plain language, when a recipe calls for beating egg whites to stiff peaks, chances are the recipe has you add cream of tartar. Two such recipes that come to mine are soufflés and meringue toppings.
Other cooking uses include preventing sugar syrups from crystallizing, reducing discoloration of boiled vegetables, stabilizing whipped cream (after whipping) and Gingerbread House icing.
You can also make baking powder with it. Click here for the recipe.
Trivia: It is a common ingredient in Play-Doh.
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