What is Cream of Tartar?
Cream of tartar is a common ingredient used in baking and as a household cleaner.(1) It is also known to many as potassium bitartrate It is produced by the process of winemaking. It crystallizes and forms deposits at the bottom of the wine cask during the fermentation process.(2,3)
Cream of tartar is classified as an additive by the Food and Drug Administration. It has an acidic but pleasant taste and can be seen in the aisle of grocery in the form of white, dry powder. To make this acidic powder last long, it needs to be stored in an airtight container and away from sources of heat.(4)
Nutritional Content of Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is consumed in small amounts.
A teaspoon of cream of tartar contains 8 calories, 3-gram carbohydrate, and 11% of the daily value of potassium.(5) It also contains trace amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, sodium, and magnesium.
Potassium is an essential mineral that is required to function and is present in all body tissues.
Uses of Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar can be used in a variety of ways, as listed below:
Used as a Food Additive
Cream of tartar is used as an additive as follows:
- Anticaking agent to prevent lumps that are produced by moisture in powdered and granulated ingredients.
- An antimicrobial agent that prevents the growth of bacteria and fungus.
- Leaving agent that helps the dough to rise by releasing carbon dioxide from baking soda.(6)
- It is also used as a controlling agent to maintain the acidity and basicity of food products.
- Cream of tarter is used by bakers to create stiff peaks of meringue that prevent the formation of sugar crystals.
- It can also be used as a substitute for buttermilk, lemon juice, or baking powder.
- It is also used as an ingredient in frosting, gelatins, puddings, jams, jellies, and hard and soft candies.
As a cleaning agent cream of tartar is used in the following ways:
- Rust remover: Mix cream of tartar with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and see how efficiently it removes rust.
- Stain remover: The cream of tartar can be used to remove difficult stains from the clothes. Just apply it on the damp surface and see the effects.
- Appliance polish: Mix one part of the cream of tartar with white vinegar to make a paste that can help polish stainless steel, aluminum, and silver appliances.
Health Benefits of Cream of Tartar
The most popular benefits of the cream of tartar are as follows:
The cream of tartar is known to help ease constipation.
A study showed 5 grams of the daily dose of cream of tartar helped in relieving constipation by softening stool and shortening the transit time through the intestine.(7)
Aids Skin Health
Cream of tartar has antimicrobial properties that help in treating acne when applied to the skin. Tartaric acid belongs to the group of alpha-hydroxy acid that is used in cosmetic and dermatology.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Helps in Quitting Smoking
There is anecdotal evidence about the cream of tartar that it helps in smoking cessation. However, there is no scientific evidence related that prove this benefit.
Side Effects of Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar can elevate the level of potassium in the blood leading to a condition known as hyperkalemia.(9) This may lead to abdominal discomfort, muscle weakness, and abnormal heart rate.
People with kidney disease, type 1 diabetes, heart failure, liver disease, and those taking medications to increase the potassium level have more risk of developing hyperkalemia. They should avoid the intake of cream of tartar.
No matter excess potassium is excreted through urine still its increased amount in the blood can be dangerous.
Another side effect of the cream of tartar is its purgative and diuretic properties. It can lead to loss of liquid in the body and may cause dehydration.
Cream of tartar is a multiple utility agent. It has numerous benefits and uses as well as a few side effects. Although it is recognized as a safe agent, before consuming it, the side effects should not be forgotten.