Potassium Bitartrate – A common household cooking ingredient! - WorldOfChemicals

Potassium Bitartrate – common household cooking ingredient!

Potassium Bitartrate – common household cooking ingredient!

Potassium Bitartrate is commonly known as Cream of Tartar.


What is Cream of Tartar and What Does it Do in our kitchen?

You have probably seen Cream of Tartar in recipes, or at least have seen it in the grocery store. Perhaps you've even used it in a recipe--it's a common ingredient for meringues or meringue toppings.

But what exactly is this cream?

Cream of Tartar’s chemical name is potassium bitartrate/potassium hydrogen tartrate, which having chemical formula of KC4H5O6, is a byproduct of winemaking.

Cream of Tartar crystallizes in wine casks during the fermentation of grape juice, and can precipitate out of wine in bottles. The crystals (wine diamonds) will often form on the underside of a cork in wine-filled bottles that have been stored at temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F), and will seldom, if ever, dissolve naturally into the wine.

It is commonly used for

  • Stabilizing egg whites, increasing their warmth tolerance and volume
  • Stabilizing whipped cream, maintaining its texture and volume
  • Anti-caking and thickening
  • Preventing sugar syrups from crystallizing
  • Reducing discoloration of boiled vegetables and

Even it can be mixed with an acidic liquid such as lemon juice or white vinegar to make a paste-like cleaning agent for metals such as brass, aluminum or copper, or with water for other cleaning applications such as removing light stains from porcelain.

Cream of tartar was often used in traditional dyeing where the complexing action of the tartrate ions were used to adjust the solubility and hydrolysis of mordant salts such as tin chloride and alum.

Cream of tartar, when mixed into a paste with hydrogen peroxide, can be used to clean rust from some hand tools, notably hand files.

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