Spice Hacks: Best Cream of Tartar Substitute?
You've probably come across cream of tartar in recipes, or at least have seen it in the spices aisle in the grocery store. In the middle of making a recipe & had no idea you needed cream of tartar? Not to worry, we've got the best cream of tartar substitutes for you.
But First, What is Cream of Tartar?
Cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate, is a winemaking by product. It is formed from the sediment left over in barrels after the winemaking process; once formed, it is scraped off of the sides of the barrels and then cleaned and ground to form cream of tartar. In cooking, it is known as cream of tartar.
Cooking With Cream of Tartar
The best use case for cream of tartar is to stabilize egg whites for meringues. Cream of tartar helps eggs maintain their texture when whipped into stiff peaks and also increases their tolerance to heat, which is pretty helpful for baking. This allows eggs to brown & hold their shape.
The Science: Cream of Tartar & Egg Whites
When you beat egg whites, proteins in the whites unfold from their natural shape and become tangled with each other. At the same time, you are beating air into the whites, forming small bubbles. The protein molecules become attached to each other through chemical and electrical bonds that reinforce the skin of the air bubbles. Over time, these bonds can pull the proteins closer together, forcing out the water trapped in the surface of the bubbles. Eventually, the proteins pull themselves together so strongly that compact, grainy protein lumps form and the liquid pools in the bottom of the bowl.
This is where the cream of tartar comes in. It helps prevent the formation of chemical bonds between protein molecules.
Cream of Tartar Substitute
The best 3 substitutes for cream of tartar:
In a pinch:
Why They Work: Lemon Juice, Vinegar & Baking Powder
This acidity makes lemon juice and vinegar are two of the acidic ingredients that you are most likely to have in your kitchen.
When using cream of tartar as a stabilizer, add 1/8 teaspoon for every egg white. Replace this with 1/4 teaspoon of either vinegar or lemon juice.
Baking powder is actually just a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar. Cream of tartar is used to activate baking soda, an alkaline. 1 teaspoon baking powder = 1/4 teaspoon baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.
In a Pinch: Buttermilk or Yogurt
Buttermilk is the acidic liquid that remains after butter has been churned and is widely used in baking. To use it as a cream of tartar substitute, simply remove a 1/2 cup of liquid for each 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar and replace it with a 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Yogurt is another acidic dairy product that could work in a pinch. Use the same approach as buttermilk for the replacement.