Cream of tartar is an ingredient full of paradoxes – it is a powder called a cream and a plain-looking substance that produces the most delicious and attractive foods. Just think about perfectly shaped meringues or super-soft snickerdoodles. Yeah, its cream of tartar that makes them look so good! Wanna know how? Keep reading!
What is Cream of Tartar?
Potassium bitartrate, as cream of tartar is otherwise known, is a dry, powdery, acidic substance that is obtained in the process of making wine. I am sure you have some of this multitalented powder somewhere in the kitchen, maybe even a whole box in the pantry that you never use. Time to put it to good use! Here is how to make cream of tartar a part of your daily cooking.
#1 Egg white and whipped cream stabilizer
Just a 1/8 teaspoon per egg white during whipping will boost the formation of air bubbles, thus enhancing the cream’s volume. This is essential when preparing meringue recipes. Potassium bitartrate will not only make them look like soft clouds but will also make them melt in your mouth.
In addition, this magical powder increases the egg whites’ tolerance to high temperatures, thus helping form those famous meringue peaks!
When added to whipped cream, potassium bitartrate does more than stabilizing. It makes the mixture foamier, whiter, and creamier!
#2 Leavening agent
When combined with baking soda in baked goods,cream of tartar acts as a leavening agent. These two ingredients produce the same gas that is produced by yeast – carbon dioxide. The main difference between yeast and the cream of tartar – baking soda combination is that the later allows you to make lighter and fluffier treats without having to let it sit and wait for a bubbly reaction before adding it to the recipe.
Cream of tartar can be also used as a substitute for baking powder. Combine 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar to replace a teaspoon of baking powder.
#3 Prevents the formation of lumps
Potassium bitartrate is often added in granulated and powdered ingredients as an anticaking agent. This means that if you add it to your sweet treats, or in table salt, sugar, flour or powdered milk, cream of tartar will prevent the formation of lumps.
#4 Prevents the formation of sugar crystals
Potassium bitartrate is a very efficient sugar inhibitor, which means it decreases the sugar’s natural tendency to form crystals. That is why adding just a tiny amount of this powdery ingredient into your icings, frostings, or syrups is very useful.
#5 Makes boiled vegetables vibrant
Just a 1/2 teaspoon of potassium bitartrate added into the water where your veggies are cooking will help them maintain their vibrant natural colors by reducing the degree of discoloration. Isn’t this extremely important when hosting a formal or holiday dinners? Good-looking veggies are of utmost importance in these cases.
#6 Thickening agent
Cream of tartar can be added to various liquid foods like sauces, soups, stews, or puddings to make them thicker by increasing their viscosity. The best thing is that adding this magical substance will not alter the taste of the dish at all!