Cream of Tartar Substitutes for Meringues, Cookies, Frostings and More

Chris Starks
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What Cream of Tartar Does in Recipes

Cream of tartar is an acidic ingredient that has a multitude of uses in baking. Add cream of tartar to the egg whites while whipping them, and you’ll get stiffer, easier-grip peaks that keep better than egg whites whipped without any cream of tartar. This is the reason behind the sweet and fluffy meringues that come out of the oven.

Cream of tartar is also a natural volcanic mineral, whose name comes from the place where it was originally mined – Como, Italy. You can buy cream of tartar in your local grocery store in different forms – powder, crystals or liquid.

An interesting fact about cream of tartar is that historically, it was used in place of regular tartaric acid in the wine processing. Some wineries still continue this practice.

Tartaric acid and cream of tartar both have different chemical compounds and properties, but the latter is a natural source of the former, which makes cream of tartar a safe and inexpensive baking ingredient.

Substituting Cream of Tartar

I’m a sucker for soft meringues and creamy frostings. And I’m a fan of baking. If you love these things as much as I do, and if you run out of cream of tartar, here is a simple recipe for a cream of tartar substitute:

Cream of tartar is a critical ingredient in some of my favorite recipes, so I always keep a bottle handy. But it often surprises me how many people don’t know what it is. Cream of tartar is also known as tartaric acid. It’s a byproduct of wine making.

It’s used to add volume and stability to dressings, frostings, meringues, and other desserts. Although you can create your own cream of tartar substitute with lemon juice, lime juice, white wine and cream of tartar, I wouldn’t recommend it. Cream of tartar is relatively inexpensive and just as reliable as lemon and lime juice.

For Egg Whites/Meringues

Egg whites need some acid to make them “beat”. This is because the proteins in the egg whites are relatively insoluble in water, without the addition of something acidic. The proteins in the whites of fresh eggs are not held together and need some help to stay suspended in the liquid. This is why you may not be able to whip your eggs into stiff peaks if they are more than a week old.

Cream of tartar can be added to freshly beaten egg whites to help them retain their volume. However, it’s important to note that the same thing is not done for meringues and cookies. The acid helps the egg whites retain their volume but also helps ensure that the cookies and meringues do not get browned from the egg whites reaching too high a temperature.

For Baked Goods

Cream of tartar is a fine white powder that you can use as a leavening agent in baked goods. It is made from grape juice or wine. There is also a liquid form of cream of tartar, which can be mixed into water to be used.

Cream of tartar is naturally a byproduct of wine or grape juice fermentation. So basically, the white powder on the top of the container with wine is essentially cream of tartar. Since the invention of baking powder, cream of tartar isn’t used frequently in today’s kitchens.

But occasionally, you need to use cream of tartar for leavening and that’s when you need a cream of tartar substitute.

Cream of tartar is used in some recipes like breads, cakes, meringues and frostings, so what to do if you need a cream of tartar substitute?

Cream of tartar substitute can be made with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, plus water. This mixture doesn’t have as much leavening power as cream of tartar but it will work for most recipes. Remember to sift the ingredients and to mix the sugar with all other dry ingredients beforehand.

What is Cream of Tartar?

Cream of tartar is made from pulverized, refined grapes. As such, it is a fruit derived ingredient and not suitable for gluten free diets. The pulp of the grape remains after pressing out the juice. The remaining grape particles are then used for cream of tartar crystals.

Different types of wines are used for the production of cream of tartar. It is common to find cream of tartar being used in baking as well as in classic cocktail recipes. Some of the most popular uses of cream of tartar are in strawberry shortcakes, basic sugar frostings, potato salad, and in classic cocktails including the whiskey sour.

For Icings and Frostings

Icings and frostings are spectacularly delicious and a real pleasure to create, but the wrong kind of sugar can spoil an otherwise perfect cake. If you come across this problem, try replacing 1/8 of your sugar with 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar.

Cream of tartar substitutes for sugar when making meringues, cookies, frostings or icings. When cream of tartar is combined with sugar the resulting product produces a whiter white frosting.

What is Cream of Tartar?

Cream of tartar is made from pulverized, refined grapes. As such, it is a fruit derived ingredient and not suitable for gluten free diets. The pulp of the grape remains after pressing out the juice. The remaining grape particles are then used for cream of tartar crystals.

Different types of wines are used for the production of cream of tartar. It is common to find cream of tartar being used in baking as well as in classic cocktail recipes. Some of the most popular uses of cream of tartar are in strawberry shortcakes, basic sugar frostings, potato salad, and in classic cocktails including the whiskey sour.

For Whipped Cream

1/2 tsp cream of tartar will give lots of fluffy volume to 1 cup of whipped cream.

Also, try adding a little vanilla extract (1 tsp), or food coloring (3 or so drops) for decoration and flavoring.

For Syrups

And Meringues: Cream of Tartar is Your Lemon Substitute

You might not be able to tell, but cream of tartar is a derivative of lemon. And while you don’t always have fresh lemons, cream of tartar always is readily available. You can use it in a pinch if unexpected guests drop in, or you need a lemon-flavored batter for a lemon meringue cookie.

How do you use cream of tartar?

Cream of tartar is a key ingredient in other sweet dishes like puddings, jams, and sauces. In recipes that call for tartness, you can use cream of tartar as a lemony substitute without altering the other ingredients.

For instance, two tablespoons of cream of tartar can replace one tablespoon of lemon juice when cooking or baking. However, keep in mind that you will need to adjust the measurements based on the recipe. For instance, if the recipe calls for two cups of sugar and one tablespoon of lemon juice, you will use one cup of sugar and two tablespoons of cream of tartar.

Alternatively, you can also use cream of tartar in jam and jellies. It’s an integral part of the four ingredient classic strawberry jam recipe, using the Arborio rice method. A quarter cup of cream of tartar is the other three ingredients.

Boiling Vegetables

Before we had the convenience of refrigeration, boiling your vegetables became the norm because it would kill off most of the bacteria that naturally occurs in the vegetables. Since we have the convenience of refrigeration today, and freezing, we no longer need to boil our vegetables to kill the bacteria off, however, it is still an incredibly healthy practice.

Boiling vegetables is best done in a large pot with a small amount of water. This allows for a larger temperature increase, which aids the cooking process and reduces the amount of time the vegetables are submerged. When boiling vegetables, heat the water to a rolling boil before adding your vegetables and then boil for about five minutes.

These boiling times are approximate, so depending on the vegetable, you may need to adjust the amount of time. The key with boiling vegetables is to cook them just enough so that they taste perfectly but remain crisp. When boiling your vegetables, you should always remember to take out the ones you want to eat raw and place them in a separate container.

Final Words

Get in the kitchen and start experimenting with some of the recipes in this collection. We’re pretty confident that you’ll love the results. What’s more, each one of these recipes can be very personalized to suit your taste.

If you need more inspiration, feel free to visit our website for more sweet recipes.