Cream of tartar is a completely natural ingredient, gluten-free and also suitable for vegan diets. Find out what it is, how to use it and its benefits.
Cream of tartar is a substance still little known in our land, although its use is now gaining consensus. Known in chemical terminology as potassium bitartrate, cream of tartar can be defined as a potassium salt of tartaric acid. Although the technical terms may lead one to think the opposite, it is an absolutely natural substance and is obtained from grapes.
Considering its organoleptic characteristics, the flavor of cream of tartar is completely neutral, while, on a visual level, it is a white and thin powder.
The possibilities of using cream of tartar in the kitchen are well defined. It can in fact function as a thickener in the context of creamy preparations, it can act as a stabilizer, being useful in the preparation of whipped cream and in the processing of egg whites, and it can prove to be an effective agent in the leavening process.
Cream of tartar: nutritional properties
As for the nutritional composition, 100 g of product contain 1.7 g of water and 61.5 g of carbohydrates, revealing a zero content of proteins and lipids. Regarding calories, 100 grams of cream of tartar provide about 258 kcal. As for the micronutrient content, it provides mostly potassium, sodium, iron and calcium.
In any case, the recipes that foresee, or in any case suggest, the presence of cream of tartar among the relative components make use of very small doses of this ingredient, which are usually around 8 g. It is therefore clear that the nutritional values shown in the following table, including calories, are quite negligible if adapted to the normal quantities of cream of tartar used.
Nutritional values per 100g of cream of tartar:
- Waterfall: 1.7 g
- Power: 258 kcal
- Ashes: 36, 8 g
- Proteins: 0 g
- Lipids: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 61.5 g
- Fibers: 0.2 g
- Sugars: 0 g
- Soccer: 8 mg
- Iron: 3.72 mg
- Magnesium: 2 mg
- Phosphorus: 5 mg
- Potassium: 16500 mg
- Sodium: 52 mg
- Zinc: 0.42 mg
- Copper: 0.195 mg
- Manganese: 0.205 mg
- Selenium: 0.2 μg
What are the benefits of using cream of tartar
Using cream of tartar as a substitute for other ingredients can be beneficial for some people. First of all, one of the main properties of cream of tartar is that it does not swell the belly, making it suitable even in case of yeast intolerance.
Not being added to stabilizers of animal origin, cream of tartar can also be used in the context of vegan and vegetarian diets. In addition to being of natural origin, since it does not make any artificial substances of any kind, it is easily metabolized in the liver. Finally, cream of tartar does not contain gluten, making it suitable for celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Cream of tartar: how to use it in the kitchen
So how is cream of tartar used? As already mentioned in the introductory part, cream of tartar is used in the kitchen as a thickener, stabilizer and as a useful leavening agent. In the first two cases, cream of tartar acts alone, while, to obtain the leavening effect, it is used to associate it with sodium bicarbonate. The resulting chemical reaction will in fact produce carbon dioxide, which is decidedly important in the leavening process, giving volume, softness and lightness to the final products. Cream of tartar, therefore, does not need rest times for leavening, as it does for other types of yeast.
Proving a versatile choice, using cream of tartar in place of similar ingredients gives excellent results, both in the context of sweet recipes (chiffon cakes, soft donuts, meringues, soaked biscuits, etc.), and in savory ones (pizza, bread, scones, etc.).
In this regard, it is useful to consider the doses. Specifically, it can be used as follows:
- Sweet recipes: with regard to leavened sweet preparations, it is advisable to replace the quantity of baking powder, usually used, with sodium bicarbonate and cream of tartar in equal quantities (eg: 16 g sachet of baking powder = 8 g of baking soda + 8 g of cream of tartar);
- Savory recipes: as regards, instead, savory recipes, the quantity of bicarbonate must be halved compared to the dose of cream of tartar (eg: for a dough with 800 g of flour we will use, by way of example, 12 g of cream of tartar and 6 g of baking soda).
Some recipes such as, for example, those for making chiffon cakes, involve adding cream of tartar during the processing of egg whites and chemical yeast to the sifted flour.
Cream of tartar, chemical yeast, brewer’s yeast and mother yeast: the differences
On a commercial level it is very easy to come across different types of yeast, which adapt, according to the needs, to the various recipes. So what are the characteristics of the different yeasts used in the kitchen? What distinguishes one yeast from the other?
A common classification provides a first subdivision into natural yeasts and chemical yeasts. Brewer’s yeast and mother yeast belong to the category of natural yeasts, while chemical yeasts include instant yeasts, suitable for sweet and savory preparations.
✓ Brewer’s yeast
Brewer’s yeast is used for the most common recipes and is generally available on the market in the form of 25 g blocks. For its use, brewer’s yeast is usually dissolved in warm water to be mixed with flour and requires a pre-cooking leavening phase at room temperature. The release of carbon dioxide and the consequent leavening are based, in this case, on fermentation processes. This type of yeast is stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
✓ Mother yeast
Also called “criscito” or “carry-over paste”, the mother yeast derives from a mixture of water and flour subject to spontaneous contamination. In order for the preparation to become effective, it is necessary to proceed with subsequent refreshments with the addition of further water and flour. Unlike brewer’s yeast, which has a homogeneous composition (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), mother yeast is characterized by the presence, in its composition, of various fungal species (of the genus Saccharomices) and bacterial (of the genera Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, etc. ), which will restore a certain aroma to the final preparation. Like brewer’s yeast, mother yeast also requires a pre-cooking leavening timeand, intuitively, also the leavening associated with the mother yeast depends on the fermentation processes.
✓ Chemical yeast
Although the term “chemical” can undergo a misleading interpretation, its use in relation to instant yeasts refers to leavening processes that do not involve living organisms (as happens, on the contrary, in the yeasts discussed above). In general, chemical yeast exerts its activity through an acid-base reaction that releases carbon dioxide. This type of leavening agent therefore consists of a basic substance, such as sodium bicarbonate, and an acid substance, such as cream of tartar. Unlike natural yeasts, chemical yeast acts during cooking in the oven, not requiring a pre-cooking leavening phase. In addition, the chemical yeast does not impart flavoringsto the final product, being useful in rendering the sought-after flavor. If properly sealed and stored in slightly damp compartments, the yeast can be stored at room temperature for some time.
Sometimes falling within the composition of instant yeasts available on the market and considering what was previously stated about its use for leavening, cream of tartar cannot be defined, in itself, a leavening agent but, rather, a very useful component for purposes leavening.
How to replace cream of tartar
In the previous paragraphs, the characteristics and methods of use of cream of tartar have been described, underlining its usefulness in the creation of various recipes. However, even for the most loyal supporters of cream of tartar, it may be necessary to resort to alternative ingredients, perhaps in occasion of impromptu preparations or in the event that a recipe provides for the use of other types of yeast. In this regard, and depending on the desired purpose, it may be interesting to resort to one of the following solutions.
For leavening purposes, you can try replacing cream of tartar with sparkling water, associating it with bicarbonate; in the same way, it is possible to use yogurt instead of cream of tartar.
To obtain stabilizing properties, for example, in the preparation of whipped egg whites, it is possible to use ingredients other than cream of tartar, but still acidic, such as vinegar or lemon juice. These two ingredients are also useful in the leavening process, if associated with baking soda. Quite simply, and as can be deduced from the previous paragraph, the mixture of cream of tartar and bicarbonate (made at home starting from the single ingredients) can be replaced by the single-dose chemical yeast available on the market.
Does cream of tartar have any contraindications?
In general, and also considering the normal quantities of use, cream of tartar does not present particular contraindications. In any case, if doubts arise in this regard, also in relation to particular subjective conditions, it is good practice to seek the advice of the treating doctor and / or pharmacist.
Where can you buy cream of tartar
Thanks to its growing popularity, finding cream of tartar is not complicated at all. In fact, it is possible to find it in the most well-stocked supermarkets, in the departments dedicated to confectionery products, as well as, obviously, in the shops dedicated to preparations of this type. Cream of tartar is sometimes available at stores dedicated to vegan and organic products, as well as in health food stores and pharmacies with a food department. Alternatively, cream of tartar is easily purchased online.
As for the price of cream of tartar, it can vary depending on the manufacturer and the format of purchase. The cost of this cooking ingredient can therefore range from a few USD, for 8 g sachets, to about 20 USD, for 1 kg jars or bags. As part of the composition of chemical yeasts on the market, cream of tartar may not require the addition of bicarbonate. In this regard, it is good practice to check the labels of the products purchased, in order to obtain an optimal use.