Cream of tartar can easily get the nickname of the baker’s dream as it is one of the main ingredients in baking recipes but its uses are quite extensive. Generally used as a raising agent for baked goods, cream of tartar is quite expensive, so you should check it out here if you’re looking for more affordable replacements that won’t alter the taste or consistency of your recipes.
What is cream of tartar and how is it used?
Cream of tartar or a powdered form of tartaric acid is a substance that usually forms at the bottom of barrels during the wine fermentation process. You can find it in the shape of a white, fine powder and is sold in the baking section of most grocery stores, in the spices section.
It is mainly used to stabilize egg whites, especially in meringue pie recipes. Cream of tartar also acts as a leavening agent in pancakes, cookies, and other baked goods free of yeast. When combined with baking soda, all of your delicious treats will have a fluffier texture and taste better.
Lastly, cream of tartar can be used to prevent sugar from crystallizing, especially in icings, frostings, and syrups. The result is a creamier texture that will add to the taste of any cake recipe that uses this ingredient.
What are the main substitutes for cream of tartar?
As we previously mentioned, this ingredient is not necessarily cheap, and this is why it is rarely used on an industrial scale by professional bakeries. If you have a hard time finding or purchasing cream of tartar, it is important to know that several more accessible ingredients will maintain the same texture of your recipe, without altering its taste.
White vinegar is acidic, similar to cream of tartar, which means it will bring a similar consistency to your baking. It is said to work wonders when you want to stabilize egg whites for different recipes of meringues and souffles.
However, we don’t recommend using white vinegar when baking cakes as it may alter the overall texture and taste of your product. If you want to use it in meringues, make sure to use a similar amount of white vinegar for whipping egg whites.
Depending on the recipe you’re baking, there is a slight risk of it ending up having a rougher texture if you use white vinegar. Besides, this ingredient has a more prominent taste than lemon juice, so you need to be careful when using it.
Lemon juice is amongst the most popular substitutes of cream of tartar as it has the same acidity, allowing you to form stiff peaks when whipping egg whites for your recipe.
Whether we’re talking about meringue, frostings, syrups or icing, lemon juice represents the perfect alternative to cream of tartar as it also prevents sugar crystallization, providing a creamy consistency to your desserts.
To get the best results, specialists recommend substituting an equal amount of lemon juice for the cream of tartar, similar to what you would use for vinegar.
For recipes using egg whites, you can substitute one teaspoon of cream of tartar with two teaspoons of lemon juice. When it comes to meringues or any other recipe using egg whites, cream of tartar can be either omitted completely from the recipe or replaced with lemon juice as the latter is acidic enough.
If you’re a dairy fan and want to add a nice texture to all your recipes, you can consider replacing cream of tartar with yogurt. It is acidic and will work well for baked goods but keep in mind that you will have to remove liquids from your recipe.
To make yogurt more suitable for baking, thin it out using some milk until it meets the consistency of buttermilk, then use it to replace the original cream of tartar. Although each recipe is unique, we suggest removing half a cup of liquid for every ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar and replacing it with half a cup of thinned yogurt.
Don’t forget that yogurt needs to react with other ingredients to allow food to rise. Baking soda, baking powder or self-raising flour are your best bets as these contain alkaline components that will react with the yogurt’s acidity and allow your recipes to taste good.
However, we don’t necessarily recommend replacing cream of tartar with yogurt as the entire process is complicated and requires precision. Besides, it will also affect the consistency of your recipe.
For cookies, scones, and cakes, yogurt may seem like a decent choice as it provides the necessary chemical reaction to create the spongy texture of your sweet treats.
Baking powder contains tartaric acid and sodium bicarbonate, in other words, cream of tartar and baking soda. Thus, it’s easy to understand why it represents the perfect replacement ingredient for your baking recipe.
For each teaspoon of cream of tartar, use 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder and you will get similar results, without altering the taste or consistency of the recipe.
Buttermilk is similar to yogurt, which means it is acidic and can work as a replacement for cream of tartar in some recipes. It is recommended for baked goods but you will still have to remove some of the liquid from the recipe to get the perfect ratio and maintain the texture of your baked goods.
Professional bakers say you should remove ½ cup of liquid for each ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar, then replace it with ½ cup of buttermilk. The results will be fantastic once you master the proportions.
Instead of measuring cups, removing liquid, and measuring some more to make sure you get the perfect texture for your syrups, frostings or baked goods, some recipes will work perfectly without any cream of tartar or its substitutes.
When stabilizing whipped egg whites, for example, you can leave out the ingredient if you don’t have any on hand and keep the recipe as it is, without looking for a substitute. The overall results will be similar, and most likely you won’t find a difference in taste or texture, especially if you have some experience in the kitchen.
The same goes for whenever you’re making icing, frosting or syrups and the recipe tells you to add cream of tartar. You can omit the ingredient without dire consequences. On the other hand, if you’re cooking baked goods that require a leavening agent, you should always add cream of tartar or one of its substitutes to make sure you get the best taste.
Can cream of tartar go bad?
The good thing about cream of tartar is that you can use it for many years, without it going bad. As long as you keep the ingredient in an air-tight container, away from direct heat and light sources, you don’t have to remember the last time you bought it.
However, other ingredients like baking soda do come with limited shelf life and may interfere with the results of your recipe if you’re using expired leavening agents.
Cream of tartar represents one of the key ingredients in baking and dessert recipes and, without it, your baked goods might not have the creamy, fluffy consistency they should. However, getting your hands on this ingredient is not always easy, and this is why professional bakers and cooks have tried to find replacements throughout the years.
Luckily, there are a few products you can use in your recipes that won’t alter the texture and taste of the recipe if you follow instructions and respect proportions. Out of all the ingredients that have proven useful in replacing cream of tartar, baking soda is probably the most popular.
It is closely followed by vinegar and lemon juice, as well as dairy products, especially yogurt. Sometimes, not adding a replacement could prove the best choice, especially if you don’t know the exact proportions or you’re not sure how to reduce the liquid ingredients required by the recipe and then replace them with baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar or yogurt.
There are plenty of online blogs and tutorials that can guide your cooking and baking steps closely to help you reach perfect results, even if you’re a newbie in the kitchen.