Despite what its name suggests, cream of tartar is a dry, powdery acidic byproduct of fermenting grapes into wine. It is one of those products that you use once, maybe twice, for a recipe and then store the rest away. In fact, you probably do not even remember when you purchased it or how long it has been sitting in your pantry. For this reason, a frequently asked question that people have about it is: Does cream of tartar go bad?
Although some baking ingredients can go bad, cream of tartar does not. As long as it is kept in an airtight container to keep out moisture and bugs, it should last indefinitely. While it will most likely have a “best by” date on the label, it will be safe to use far past that date if stored properly.
In this article, we will discuss whether cream of tartar goes bad over time, as well as how to properly store cream of tartar. We will also highlight a few alternatives to cream of tartar. Let’s dig in!
- Does Cream of Tartar Go Bad Over Time?
- How Can You Tell If Cream of Tartar Has Gone Bad?
- How To Properly Store Cream of Tartar?
- Does Cream of Tartar Go Bad After Opening?
- Can You Get Sick From Old Cream of Tartar?
- Alternatives To Cream of Tartar
- Related Questions
Does Cream of Tartar Go Bad Over Time?
While there are some baking ingredients that can go bad over time, cream of tartar is not one of them. The only thing that would cause it to go bad as if it came in contact with water or became infested with bugs (gross, I know). In order to prevent that from happening, it is best to keep it in in a cool, dry place in an airtight container away from sunlight or other sources of heat. There is no need to refrigerate your cream of tartar after opening.
If you plan on using the entire contents of the container in a short period of time, the storage method will not make a big difference. However, most people only need a small amount for a recipe and then store the rest away. Therefore, if you are not sure when you will use it next, it is best to store it in an airtight container in the pantry or kitchen cabinet to maintain its quality. If it has turned into a solid lump, or if mold has formed, do not consume and discard immediately.
How Can You Tell If Cream of Tartar Has Gone Bad?
One way to tell if your cream of tartar has gone bad is to look at its appearance. If it has formed into a solid lump, or if mold has formed, do not consume and discard immediately. If it appears normal and has been stored properly in an airtight container away from sunlight or other sources of heat, it is most likely safe to use.
Another way to tell if your cream of tartar has gone bad is to check its appearance for a change in color or dark specks. You can also smell it to check for an off odor. If you notice a change in color, dark specks or an off odor, do not consume and discard immediately.
Although cream of tartar typically does not go bad, it will most likely still come with a “best by” date. The “best by” date is not to be confused with a “use by” date. That is not necessarily an expiration date. The “best by” date if often only there for legal reasons. People also tend to trust foods more with a “best by” date. However, if stored properly, cream of tartar will be safe to use indefinitely.
How To Properly Store Cream of Tartar?
Opened or unopened, cream of tartar should be stored in the pantry or kitchen cabinet in an airtight container. That is the best way to keep out moisture and bugs that would cause the powder to spoil. After the “best by” date, it is recommended that the appearance and smell be examined before use. However, if it has been stored properly, it will most likely be safe to use regardless of how far past the “best by” date it is.
How To Store Cream of Tartar
- Find a cool, dark place such as a pantry or kitchen cabinet away from direct sunlight or other sources of heat.
- Make sure there is a constant temperature. This means keeping it away from the stove and dishwasher, and do not move it to the refrigerator. Find a nice spot in your pantry or cabinet for it and leave it there.
- Keep it in an airtight container and make sure the container is not damaged. Cream of tartar pulls moisture from the air, which is why an airtight container is important for maintaining its quality.
Does Cream of Tartar Go Bad After Opening?
The only thing that would cause cream of tartar to go bad after opening is if water got into the container. If water gets into the container, it will form into a solid lump, or even grow mold. If either of those things happen, do not consume and discard immediately. To experience the full flavor and quality of cream of tartar, it is best to consume it by the “best by” date on the label. Although, if stored properly, it will remain safe to use indefinitely.
Once again, proper storage is key when it comes to maintaining the freshness of cream of tartar.
Can You Get Sick From Old Cream of Tartar?
Despite it containing large amounts of potassium, there are no well-documented cases of it causing toxicity. The only time you should be concerned of getting sick from cream of tartar is when mold develops. Mold can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In rare cases, mold can produce toxic chemicals called mycotoxins that can cause disease and even death depending on the individual and the amount consumed.
Alternatives To Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is an essential ingredient in many baked goods. It is often used for stabilizing egg whites, preventing crystallization, and acts as a leavening agent for baked goods. Although nothing can replace this unique powder, there are some alternatives that you can try instead that may perform and taste similarly.
This 100% lemon juice is great for use in a variety of recipes and beverages. Lemon juice provides the same acidity as cream of tartar, helping to form stiff peaks when you are whipping egg whites. If you are making syrup or frosting, lemon juice can also replace cream of tartar to help prevent crystallization.
This white distilled vinegar is non-toxic, chemical free, and contains no potentially cancer-causing additives. Like cream of tartar, white vinegar is acidic, so it can be used for stabilizing egg whites. However, white vinegar might not be the best cream of tartar substitute in baked goods like cakes, as it may alter the taste and texture.
This baking powder is suitable for many diets including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and kosher. It is made up of sodium bicarbonate and tartaric acid, which is essentially cream of tartar. Use 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder to replace 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
Baking powder is an ideal substitute because it can be used in any recipe without altering the taste or texture of the final product.
This low fat buttermilk comes from pasture-raised cows and contains calcium, B12 and riboflavin, so you can feel good about consuming it. Due to its acidity, buttermilk makes a great alternative to cream of tartar.
It works especially well in baked goods, but some liquid needs to be removed from the recipe to account for the buttermilk. For each 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, remove 1/2 cup of liquid from the recipe and replace it with 1/2 cup of buttermilk.
This yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium. Yogurt is acidic, which is why it can be used as a cream of tartar substitute. However, before you use the yogurt as a substitute, you will need to thin it out with a little bit of milk to match the consistency of buttermilk, then use it to replace cream of tartar in the same way.
For every 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, remove 1/2 cup of liquid from the recipe and replace it with 1/2 cup yogurt that has been thinned out with milk.
What Is Cream of Tartar Used For?
Cream of tartar is often used to stabilize egg whites and helps provide the characteristic high peaks in recipes like meringue. It is also used to give a tangy flavor and chewy texture to snickerdoodle cookies.
Is Cream of Tartar Vegan?
Despite its name, cream of tartar is vegan-friendly. It is a byproduct of the winemaking process and does not contain any animal-derived ingredients.
Is Cream of Tartar Healthy?
Cream of tartar is not only good for your recipes, but it is also good for your health. It is known for treating arthritis, combatting heartburn, and even clearing up acne-prone skin. So go ahead and add it to your next recipe, your health and tastebuds will thank you.