Before baking soda, cream of tarter was used on baking goods. Cream of tarter is an acidic salt that is produced by mixing potassium hydroxide with tartaric acid. Traces of calcium tartrate have been found in a pottery jar in northern Iran that dates back over 7,000 years.


Cream of tarter is used for cooking and baking. A common use of cream of tarter is to stabilize egg whites, produce creamy frosting or candy. Cream of tarter is also used commercially in some soft drinks, candies, bakery products and gelatin desserts.


Cream of tarter can be found in the baking section or spice section of your local grocery store and a small container will last a long time in the average kitchen. If you are out of cream of tarter, in a pinch you can use white vinegar or lemon juice as a substitute to reproduce the effects of cream of tarter. You will need to use about three times the amount of vinegar to replicate the effects of the cream of tarter.

Other Uses

You can use cream of tarter for household cleaning tasks. It can be used to clean copper or brass cookware and even be used to remove stains from sinks and bath tubs.

How It’s Made

Cream of tartar is made when tartaric acid partially neutralizes with potassium hydroxide, which transforms it into a salt. Grapes are the only natural source of tartaric acid. Cream of tartar is developed from sediment produced in the process of making wine.

References and Resources

What's Cooking America