Cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate, is a white, powdery substance that is a byproduct of winemaking. It is commonly used in baking and cooking for a variety of purposes.
One of the primary uses of cream of tartar is to stabilize and add volume to whipped egg whites. When cream of tartar is added to egg whites, it lowers the pH of the mixture, which helps to stabilize the egg whites and prevent them from collapsing or weeping. This is especially important when making meringues, angel food cakes, and other baked goods that rely on whipped egg whites for their light and airy texture.
Cream of tartar can also be used as a leavening agent in baking. When combined with baking soda, it reacts to create carbon dioxide gas, which helps to leaven baked goods such as cakes, cookies, and quick breads. This reaction is similar to the reaction that occurs when baking powder is used, but cream of tartar is often used in recipes where acidity is needed to balance the flavors or activate other ingredients.
In addition to its use in baking, cream of tartar can be used as a cleaning agent for household items such as brass, copper, and aluminum, and can also be used to remove stains from clothing. It is also sometimes used in the production of candy and as a food preservative.