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Versatile Cream of Tartar Uses in Your Home

As a pantry staple, cream of tartar has a whole range of benefits beyond its primary use in baking. You’ll be surprised at the number of things you can do with this humble powder. Read on to discover the potential cream of tartar uses in your everyday life.

Cream of tartar in a clear glass bowl.

Why I Love Using Cream of Tartar

As a food and cleaning ingredient, cream of tartar is a real jack-of-all-trades. Come to think of it, it should have probably made my list of pantry staples I always have on hand. Not only is it a powerful leavening agent in baking, but it also has various cleaning applications that can come in handy around the house.

We’re all for household products that pull double duty. Just like our all-purpose cleaning powder, our non-toxic glass cleaner, the versatile uses of citric acid, surprising uses for vinegar, unexpected dish soap uses, and even using baking soda for cleaning, they’re all versatile multi-purpose ingredients.

So trust me when I say having cream of tartar on hand means you’re always prepared for whatever task comes your way.

Wooden wine barrels stacked up.

What Is Cream of Tartar?

Cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate, is a fine white powder that is a byproduct of the winemaking process. It forms on the inside of wine barrels during fermentation. It’s then refined to create the cream of tartar powder commonly found in households. It is odorless and has a slightly acidic taste.

The Taste of Cream of Tartar

If you have ever tasted cream of tartar on its own, you may have noticed its slightly acidic flavor. This taste is due to the main component of cream of tartar – tartaric acid. However, when used in baking recipes, the taste blends in with other ingredients and is undetectable. It never overpowers the overall flavor.

Its addition can help create a lighter and fluffier texture, particularly in baked goods like angel food cake. So, don’t let the taste of cream of tartar deter you from utilizing this versatile ingredient.

A spoonful of cream of tartar being added to a mixing bowl of whipping cream.

Cream of Tartar in Baking and Cooking

As I mentioned above, cream of tartar is a versatile ingredient that can enhance your baking creations in numerous ways:

Whipped CreamOne of its most notable benefits is acting as a stabilizer for whipped cream. Next time you prepare a dessert that requires whipped cream, add a pinch of cream of tartar and notice how long your whipped cream stays stabilized.
Baked GoodsCream of tartar can help you create lighter and fluffier baked goods. Angel food cakes, in particular, benefit from cream of tartar, as it helps the cake hold its shape and rise higher.
Another benefit of cream of tartar is that it helps prevent sugar crystals from forming and extends the shelf life of baked goods. So, next time you make a batch of cookies, add a pinch of cream of tartar to help them stay fresh for longer.
Baking Powder SubstituteIf you’re ever in a bind and don’t have any baking powder on hand, you can use cream of tartar as a substitute. Combine one part baking soda and two parts cream of tartar to create a baking powder substitute.
Egg WhitesCream of tartar is particularly useful when working with egg whites. It aids in stabilizing and adding volume to egg whites, making them perfect for meringues and soufflés.
Fruits and VegetablesCombining a pinch of cream of tartar with lemon juice can help prevent fruits from turning brown and enhance their flavor. Adding a small amount of cream of tartar to the boiling water of vegetables will enhance their color and vibrancy, making them more appealing and appetizing.
A coffee carafe.

Cleaning With Cream of Tartar

If you think that cream of tartar is only good for baking, think again! This powerhouse ingredient also has strong cleaning properties that can make household cleaning a breeze.

Stainless SteelOne of its most popular uses is for cleaning and polishing stainless steel appliances, making them shine like new. Just mix together 1 part cream of tartar to 4 parts white vinegar in a non metal container. Scrub your stainless appliances, rinse with water, and watch them shine like new.
Coffee and Tea StainsDo you have a coffee or tea stain ruining your favorite mug? Don’t toss it out! Simply rub the stain with a paste made of cream of tartar and water and bring that mug back to life.
DescalingCleaning tea kettles and coffee makers couldn’t be easier when using cream of tartar. Simply fill the kettle or coffee maker with water, add a tablespoon of cream of tartar, and run a cycle. Watch as the cream of tartar descales these appliances with no scrubbing necessary!
Carpet StainsIf you have a stubborn carpet stain, try mixing cream of tartar with just enough lemon juice to make a paste. Dab paste into the stain, and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with water and blot dry. (Homesteading Hack: Always do a test spot first!)
Ink StainsCream of tartar mixed with lemon juice is also an all-natural stain remover that can help get rid of stubborn ink stains from clothes. Dab a paste of cream of tartar mixed with a few drops of lemon juice onto the stain and let sit for a few hours. Rinse and wash as normal.
Stain PretreatmentMix one part glycerine to two parts cream of tartar in a spray bottle to use as a general stain pretreatment.
Drain CleanerMake an all-natural drain cleaner by combining one tablespoon of cream of tartar with 1/4 cup salt and 1/4 cup baking soda. Then, pour this mixture into your drain and add 1-2 cups of hot water. Allow it to sit in your drain for about an hour, and then rinse with fresh tap water.
ToiletsThere is no need to mix cream of tartar with anything to make an effective toilet cleaner. Simply sprinkle cream of tartar inside the bowl, wait for a few minutes, scrub with a toilet brush, and flush away the grime!
Rust RemoverCream of tartar mixed with enough hydrogen peroxide to create a paste makes an all-natural rust remover. Cover the rust stain with the paste and allow to sit for about an hour. After it’s worked its magic, wipe or rinse clean.
Green homemade playdough in a little kid's hands.

Cream of Tartar in Other Uses

Who knew that cream of tartar could find its way outside the kitchen? This versatile ingredient has amazing uses beyond baking and cleaning.

Ant DeterrentIf you want to keep ants at bay, sprinkle some cream of tartar in areas that are prone to ants. They won’t like the smell and will stay away. Homesteading Hack: If you have a larger ant problem, try this DIY Borax Ant Killer!
Homemade PlaydoughOur kids love edible playdough, but if you make reusable homemade playdough, cream of tartar is a must-have ingredient. It helps provide a smooth texture and elasticity, making the dough long-lasting and fun to play with.

How to Store Cream of Tartar

To keep your cream of tartar fresh, storing it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place is important. Exposure to moisture and heat can lead to clumping and a loss of effectiveness.

Conclusion

From adding volume to your baked goods to effectively cleaning various surfaces, cream of tartar is a truly versatile ingredient. Its natural properties make it an excellent choice for those seeking a more eco-friendly approach to cooking and cleaning.

Angel food cake with a slice missing.

FAQ

How can I use cream of tartar in baking?

Cream of tartar can be used as a baking powder substitute, added to whipped cream to stabilize it, or used in angel food cakes to create a lighter and fluffier texture. It also helps prevent sugar crystals from forming and extends the shelf life of baked goods.

What is cream of tartar made of?

Cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate, is a byproduct of the winemaking process. It forms on the inside of wine barrels during fermentation. Then, it’s refined to create the white powder commonly found in households. It is odorless and has a slightly acidic taste.

Can cream of tartar be used for cleaning?

Yes, cream of tartar can be used for cleaning purposes. It can clean and polish stainless steel appliances, remove stains from various surfaces, clear clogged drains, descale coffee makers, provide toilet touch-ups, and even remove rust from metallic objects.

What are some other uses for cream of tartar?

Aside from baking and cleaning, cream of tartar can work as an ant deterrent by sprinkling it in areas prone to ants. It is also a key ingredient in homemade playdough recipes, providing a smooth texture and elasticity. Additionally, it can brighten up boiled vegetables, enhancing their color and vibrancy.

How should I store cream of tartar?

To maintain the quality and effectiveness of cream of tartar, store it in a cool, dry place. It is important to keep it away from moisture and heat. A small amount of cream of tartar goes a long way, so make sure to seal it tightly after each use.

What does cream of tartar taste like?

Cream of tartar has a slightly acidic taste due to its main component, tartaric acid. However, when used in baking recipes, the taste blends in with other ingredients and does not overpower the overall flavor.

Is cream of tartar a natural ingredient?

Yes, cream of tartar is a natural ingredient. It is derived from the winemaking process and does not contain any artificial additives or preservatives. It is a versatile and effective ingredient that can be used in various homemade recipes and cleaning solutions.

How can cream of tartar enhance my baked goods?

Cream of tartar helps create lighter and fluffier baked goods by stabilizing egg whites and adding volume. It also acts as a substitute for baking powder when combined with baking soda. Additionally, it prevents sugar crystals from forming and extends the shelf life of baked goods.

What are the benefits of using cream of tartar in whipped cream?

Adding cream of tartar to whipped cream acts as a stabilizer, helping it maintain its shape and preventing it from deflating or separating. It ensures a smooth and fluffy texture, making it perfect for topping desserts and beverages.

Are there any safety precautions when using cream of tartar?

Cream of tartar is generally safe to use in moderation. We recommend you consult a healthcare professional if you have specific dietary restrictions or health concerns. As with any ingredient, it’s important to use it as directed and in the appropriate quantities.

A young girl cleaning a glass window with cleaner.
A man and wife smiling.

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