8 Things to Know About Cream of Tartar

Anna, a Fooducate community member asks:

My mother-in-law told me not to use Cream of Tartar, that her mother said it’s bad. Anyone know if she’s right???

Good question.

What you need to know:

1. Cream of Tarter is actually a white, odorless powder. You can find it conveniently packaged in the spices section of your local supermarket.

2. The chemical name for cream of tartar is potassium bitartrate, or potassium hydrogen tartrate. We’ll get to the potassium in a minute.

3. Cream of tartar is natural, and is formed from the sediment left over in barrels after the winemaking process. They’ve found cream of tartar in ancient pottery dating back 7000 years!

4. Cream of tartar has multiple uses in food preparation including stabilizing egg whites by increasing their heat tolerance and volume, and preventing sugary syrups, chocolates and candies from crystallizing.

5. Homemade baking powder can be made by combining baking soda and cream of tartar as the active acid ingredient.

6. If you’re whipping cream and want to stabilize it, add some cream of tartar after whipping.

7. Health concern #1 - cream of tartar has an extremely high potassium content – 495 mg per teaspoon. Our daily requirement for potassium is 3500 mg. This poses a risk for people with kidney disease or folks that take medication that decreases the ability of their kidneys to excrete potassium. Keep in mind however that cream of tartar is usually used in tiny amounts.

8. Health concern #2Laxative effect. Again, a non-issue for most people due to the tiny amounts used in food. You’ll be more likely to experience laxative effects from a stick of gum sweetened with sugar alcohol, or eating an energy bar pumped with inulin for extra fiber.

So to answer your question Anna, if your kidneys are fine and if you use cream of tartar in the small quantities intended, there should be no problem.

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  • http://rodandstafffarm.blogspot.com June

    Good to know because it is a staple in some vintage cookbooks for baking and frankly the only way to give snickerdoodles their classic taste.

  • http://www.thetableofpromise.blogspot.com The Table of Promise

    Great information–I had no idea!!!

  • Traci

    I have often heard that putting cream of tartar across a doorway or windowsill will keep ants from coming in…not sure if that is true. But it makes a good story!

  • Amy

    It’s also a great thing to use to clean off dirty cookie sheets and pans that are starting to turn black and sticky from years of abuse. Use it like Ajax or Comet as a scrubbing agent.

  • http://www.susanruns.com Susan – Nurse on the Run

    This had me worried since it’s used in many baked goods…glad my kidneys are up to par!

  • WilliamB

    I’m going to highlight a point that was buried in the post – baking powder contains cream of tartar. So just about every baked good has either yeast or cream of tartar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/oncallnurse Kristina

    am glad to have come across this! i use cream of tartar a lot in baking!!!

  • http://foodtrainers.blogspot.com Lauren Slayton

    makes me feel better I checked back and see the same post, you always seem to have something new up.

  • Hope

    Hi. I’m a reg dietitian – I think it should be noted that very few people achieve that desirable intake of 3500mg potassium/day. While it is correct that most people with kidney disease would need to be aware of potassium excesses, the rest of us would benefit from more potassium. Potassium occurs naturally in many many foods, most concentrated in fruits and vegetables and dairy products. But it really takes quite a deliberate effort to get anywhere close to 3500mg routinely.

  • Janice

    I use cream of tartar in a recipe for homemade “playdough” made with koolaid, flour, salt, oil, and water. If this is ingested by children, is it a risk? I’ve seen my children taste it but immediately spit it out because it tastes so awful from the flour and salt.

  • CAfarmer

    @Traci
    The powdery texture of cream of tartar may repel ants, but it’s probably a pricey fix. I’ve actually used Gold Bond Powder on a driveway just because it was handy. Organic farmers use diatomaceous earth as an irritant/repellent for a lot of insect species. Find it in a farm/garden supply store.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1382620198 Betty Ann Butner Kimel

    If Cream of Tartar is high in Potassium, would it help those of us who get cramps because of low Potassium due to our medicines we take…. and how would you use the tartar ?

    • Anonymous

      May be easier to just eat a banana or apricots

      • Guest

        agreed

      • Zfruhl

        or an avacado

      • Guest

        You’d have to eat about a dozen bananas to get any significant quantity of potassium.

    • Dan

      YES!  It works almost instantly for my 85 year old friend when he gets leg cramps.  I am online ordering some more McCormick Cream of Tartar for him.

  • didy

    Cream of Tartar– the only time I’ve ever seen it used is as 1 tsp in a batch of sugar cookies— I’ve never run across it otherwise. It is used in small amounts for baking (science) and in no way can be harmful, even with kidney disease- or helpful for leg cramps. I would rather this site focus on real issues instead of vaguely creating “drama” out of non-issues.

  • didy

    Cream of Tartar– the only time I’ve ever seen it used is as 1 tsp in a batch of sugar cookies— I’ve never run across it otherwise. It is used in small amounts for baking (science) and in no way can be harmful, even with kidney disease- or helpful for leg cramps. I would rather this site focus on real issues instead of vaguely creating “drama” out of non-issues.

    • Fendirina

      Well written! “Creating “drama” out of non-issues” ~ great. There are SO many real issues that it’s really annoying to read such silliness.

    • Randomcheck2

      I never heard of it! I got it mixed up with tartar sauce! lol i didn’t buy the sauce cuz i knew it wasn’t right with cake cream

  • Michealrobertson

    “4. Cream of tartar has multiple uses in food preparation including stabilizing… preventing sugary syrups, chocolates and candies from crystallizing.” Can I add this to honey to keep it from crystallizing? If so, how, and how much?

    • http://www.facebook.com/selenaclements Selena Clements

      There’s nothing wrong with crystalized honey. Just let the bottle rest in warm water and it’ll thin out for use. Adding things to your honey will cause it to go bad. ~~ A beekeeper

  • Guest

    awesome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002275432806 Jumpstart Bodyfuel

    this is a good info

  • March11heather

    The only time I ever use that stuff is to make a mock apple pie. 

  • Jcarroll

    I’m told that cream of tartar will also fight gout, which causes crystals in your body. Since it keeps eggs from crystalizing…would that be the same idea? How much would you take?

    • Jeff SR

      very interesting statement

  • webmaster solutions

    Potassium is needed to maintain good health. Although a balanced diet usually supplies all the potassium a person needs, potassium supplements may be needed by patients who do not have enough potassium in their regular diet or have lost too much potassium because of illness or treatment with certain medicines.

  • cavenaugh

    Wow.  Someone asks a reasonable question and people relegate it to the world of non-reality.  People SHOULD be educated about the components of what they put in their bodies, whether chemically, nutritionally, etc.  For people on dialysis who have to adamantly avoid excess potassium, this is an important issue.  If it bothers you so much, you can start another topic, no?

    • Guitarsandbeaches

      Dude, really? Wow, she answered the question and even mentioned the kidney problem. Only one being weird here is you dude. Please do us a favor …start your own topic.. ..I don’t know? Maybe something about unreasonable aggression?

      • BunnyOle

        LMAO?

        Also, I hate it when people end a sentence with “no” or “yes” in the way that cavenaugh ended ‘his/her’ sentence.

        It REEKS of pseudo intellectual arrogance and bullshit.

  • Kathy

    My Cajun ancestors used it every spring to “thin the blood” in preparation for the hot days coming.  Used it in lemonade. Could also help in cleansing the blood in case of infection.  Haven’t tried it in that capacity.  Anyone know anything else about that origin?

    • Shirlee19

      Yes, my mother use to give us cream of tartar in lemonade every year when I was a young child. It was to cleanse the blood. We sometime had boils,(infection) on the skin, and that would help us not to get them. I can’t remember how much she used, but she put it in a pitcher of lemonade, and gave us a glass of cold lemonade.
      If anyone remembers how much to use, pleas let us know.

      • Betty

         Used a 1/2 teaspoon in a pitcher of lemonade

      • sheila

        I just quit smoking and they told me to take 2 oz. of a critic juice and 1 teaspoon on cream of tartar every night for 7 nights to help me get rid of the toxins in my system.

  • Leah6166

    I read mixing cream of tarter with orange juice drinking before bed every night cuts the urge to smoke a cigarettes.

    • Lynnie

      This is true. I have been trying this, half a teaspoon of the cream of tartar mixed in oj before bed and I went from 3 packs of cigarettes a day down to 1, so it does cut the urge to smoke out taking it this way.

      • Puppylady60

        hi Lynnie  I  getting lazer  and after that they  are  telling  me to take  cream of tartar in my OJ  by reading you advice  ,sounds good  . Sure hope it works ,i;ll   try and let you know  ..

      • Annc4562

        Are you still useing it? I just start useing this week and i can tell the urge to smoke taste one didn’t taste good. Is that a good sign?

      • Mary

        Lynnie & Leah6166, how much oj are you supposed to use? I’m going to start using this today.

  • Ctinkler

    My DIl is alergetc to fruits. Does cream of tartar have grapes in it or a byproduct of grapes. She is major alergetic to grapes?

    • Thelessum

      Your DII probably alergic to fructose, that is a tipe of sugar find in fruit, specially in grapes (also known as grape-sugar). This should not carry into the vine, and deffenetly will not appear in cream tartar. It’s a chemical, as nature formed it, just like MSG.

  • Cjtk9264

    Im really glad i read this!! My father is a dialysis patient who MUST watch his potassium intake  he wanted me to make him a lemon meringue pie for his birthday and i was going to use cream of tartar in the meringue.  Guess i will look for something else

    • Dgreenwood

      Buy a copper bowl. Whipping egg whites in copper has the same effect as using cream of tartar. Read Harold McGee for the scientific explanation.

    • Thelessum

      Add a feww drop of vinegar

  • Madison Green

    where can you find cream of tartar because i can not find it at my local super market????

  • daniel

    for madison green, just go to the store in the spices, you’ll find it i got some the other day.  daniel

  • Enta Wolf

    i never new all that stuff! It is because of people who are brave enoth to ask that help others get answers,

  • Robert

    What is the shelf life Cream of Tartar?  Will it lose it’s stabilizing ability over time?  

    • Www Thelessum

      Cream tartar was find in 7000 year old vine jugs

      • Truth be told

        How could anyone have found cream of tartar residue in ancient pottery 1000 years older than the earth has been in existence??? that is completely and utterly impossible

        • Julie L.

          …sometimes, I’m just speechless. This is one of those times.

          • Guest

            Wow.

        • Robert

          @88e0c64c631ee370f7e101a5822433b6:disqus Thank you for replying to my post. Either you were trying to be facetious or you truly believe that nonsense about the earth being 5000 years old and humans riding on the backs of dinosaurs. I hope you were only making a joke, because if you believe that crap, then you are a moron.

        • purpplchic

          @88e0c64c631ee370f7e101a5822433b6:disqus “The oldest known piece of pottery has been found in China. The 20,000-year-old fragments were found in Xianrendong Cave in northern Jiangxi Province, China, and are 2,000 years older than the earliest known pottery.” (http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120628/pottery-oldest-the-world-found-china)
          Also the earth has been in existence for about 4.54 BILLION years. . . just thought you would like to know.

          • Jeff SR

            thats a load of *%&*!

  • Supermom-in-training

    Cream of tartar is in my recipe to make play dough!  Wonder if it’s any worse for the kiddos than the bright green or blue or pink stuff that is commerically manufactured and the child happens to take a little nibble.

  • Sayseh

    Even if this is not a big issue, it was helpful to know what it is and what it is used for. Thank you

    • allen

      These are all good Info There is one more use for cream of tartar instead of using sodium nitrites in brine for Curing meat to keep that pick color instead use cream of tartar it safe and good for you the other can kill ya

  • TamW

    Gosh the only thing I use it for is making home made Play dough… which is full of salt to stop the kids eating it. 

  • Maggie

    Is Cream of Tartar could for high blood pressure to bring it down?

  • Bareangel08@aol.com

    Wow good to know,I eat a banana and my potassium goes threw the roof. I have very high levels and on meds that do nothing, and was about to start baking and decided to search first,so thanks

  • ToughStuff2012

    If you workout a lot, you could use more potassium. 

  • guest

     or eating an emergy bar pumped with inulin for extra fiber.note the typo…

  • Rufus

    How long can cream of tartar be kepted and still be alright to
    bake with?

  • jo

    Has anyone tried cream of tartar
    as a substitute for meringue powder in royal icing? My grand daughter
    must eat egg, dairy, sugar and gluten free. Not that she will necessary
    eat the decorations but she should even touch eggs. Thanks for ant
    input.

    Jo

  • wh

    My grandmother used it to keep ants away from the kitchen. It works for the most part.

  • BunnyOle

    I just read that our daily recommended potassium intake is closer to 5,000 and NOT 3,500 – it was around 4,900 – better double check without taking this sites word for the ‘total amount’ BE THAT AS IT MAY – MOST PEOPLE DON’T GET ANYWHERE NEAR ENOUGH POTASSIUM – one potato has 550 mg, sweet potatos OJ, white beans, and then shit like “beet root greens’ like anybody eats that. Most of these foods have the most per ‘serving’ and it’s still less than 600 PER so even at 3,500 you’d have to get 7 servings of all kinds of stuff like DATES, raisins, white beans, clams, tomatoes, yogurt.

    I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • Pamela Graham

    I had read on the Internet that using cream of Tartar (1/2 tsp) in water with 1/2 tso. lemon juice. Said to do this 3x daily and it would clean out the arteries. Is this safe to do?

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      You should consult with a qualified health professional such as a registered dietitian.

  • Jackie Johnson

    Does anyone know if Creme Of Tartar is good for Fibroids Tumors. To help them dissolve.

    • john r

      Jackie,
      Don’t fool with fibroids…have them taken care of by a physician. My wife avoided having this done and suffered the consequences. She recently underwent open heart surgery to have large clots removed from her lungs. The surgeon said that the most likely cause of the clots development was due to the large mass of fibroids in her pelvis which were pressing upon her arteries and constricting the blood flow. Eventually, the blood began to pool in her lower extremities because of the constricted circulation and clots began to form. Once these clots become
      free, they can become lodged in the pulmonary system causing a life threatening
      issue, as it occurred with my wife. It’s not my intention to frighten you, but for your sake and that of your family, do some serious research on the subject and speak to your doctor. Your case may be very different, but it won’t hurt to ask the experts.

  • smirque B

    I use it to clean around the burners on my stove It works great

  • amber

    i stumbled upon this sight while searching for an explanation as to what cream of tartar is composed of. i appreciate the concept that potassium bitartrate is naturally formed in wine making sediment, yet find it somewhat illogical to think that it is found in this white powder form in the bottom of a wine barrel….!?!? therefore i would believe it would only be logical to discuss the undoubtedly chemical process that such a substance would undergo in order to be sold in its current white powder state, on a site entitled “fooducate” … not too silly eh?!?

  • Heppcatt

    I always keep in my car when I go to local high school sporting events. There has been a number if times that an athlete gets leg cramps and I have come to the rescue with c of t…. I put a teaspoon in a water bottle and leg cramps go away almost instantly. Should be in every sports med kit.

    • Liana

      do you drink the cream of tartar water?

  • Brandon

    I looked at this because I was watching Master Chef and the guy put cream of tartar in his dish instead of cornstarch and it wasnt doing what he wanted it to (obviously) so he kept adding more and more and he ended up putting over 10 tbsp. of it in there I cant believe that after the judges tried it they didnt die because of all the potassium!!

  • abigail

    Interesting discussion. Useful information.

  • enna

    if im using 2 cups of cream and need to stabilize it with cream of tartar, therefore how many cream of tartar would i put?

  • Peep

    Thanks

  • Peep

    This is going to work for me

  • _Foster

    Apparently, it also reversed the effects of MSG sensitivies and helps with flatulence. I’m going to start putting this in our OJ regularly…maybe even feed some to the dog (after I check with the vet of course)

  • KathyB

    Can ingesting too much Cream of Tartar hurt you in any way physically? Can it harm you?

  • Karen

    I have found cream of tartar is good for heart burn…. does anyone know if it is high sodium?

  • spell check

    emergy bar?

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      fixed. thanks!