Cream of tartar and tartar sauce – two terms that sound similar but are actually quite different.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering whether these two ingredients are interchangeable, you’re not alone. While both are used in cooking and baking, they serve very different purposes.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between cream of tartar and tartar sauce, including their ingredients, appearance, and uses.
So, if you’re ready to clear up any confusion and learn more about these two culinary staples, keep reading!
Is Cream Of Tartar And Tartar Sauce The Same Thing?
No, cream of tartar and tartar sauce are not the same thing. Despite their similar names, they are two distinct ingredients with different properties and uses.
Cream of tartar is a fine, white powder that is actually potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate. It is a byproduct of wine-making and is used in baking as a stabilizer for whipped egg whites, as a leavening agent when combined with baking soda, and in candy making to prevent the formation of crystals.
On the other hand, tartar sauce is a creamy condiment typically made with mayonnaise and flavored with ingredients such as pickles, capers, onions, and herbs. It is commonly served with seafood but can also be used as a dip or spread for other dishes.
While both cream of tartar and tartar sauce have an acidic taste, they differ in appearance and consistency. Cream of tartar is a fine powder, while tartar sauce is a creamy liquid.
What Is Cream Of Tartar?
Cream of tartar is a white, powdery substance that is actually potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate. It is a natural byproduct of wine-making and forms on the inside of wine barrels. Cream of tartar has three main uses in the kitchen. Firstly, it is used as a stabilizer for whipped egg whites, helping them to hold their shape and not collapse. Secondly, it is used as a leavening agent when combined with baking soda, causing baked goods to rise. Lastly, it is used in candy making to prevent the formation of crystals in boiling sugar.
Despite its name, cream of tartar is not related to tartar sauce. While both have an acidic taste, they differ in appearance and consistency. Cream of tartar is a fine, white powder, while tartar sauce is a creamy liquid made with mayonnaise and other ingredients such as pickles, capers, onions, and herbs.
The Ingredients Of Cream Of Tartar
Cream of tartar is primarily composed of potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate, a byproduct of wine-making. It has a chemical formula of KC4H5O6 and a molecular weight of 188.177. Cream of tartar is a white crystalline powder or colorless, slightly opaque crystals that are slightly soluble in cool water, with 0.6 grams dissolving in 100 ml at 25°C. However, it is readily soluble in hot water, with 6.1 grams dissolving in 100 ml at 100°C.
Aside from its use in baking as a stabilizer for whipped egg whites and a leavening agent when combined with baking soda, cream of tartar has other applications. It is used in candy making to prevent the formation of crystals and can also be mixed with white vinegar to create a paste that can clean stainless steel, copper, brass, and porcelain.
While cream of tartar has a slightly tangy, acidic flavor, it is not typically used in large quantities to impact the taste of dishes. Despite its name, cream of tartar is not creamy or dairy-based and does not contain any dairy products. It is a versatile ingredient that has many uses beyond the kitchen and can be found in most spice aisles or baking sections of grocery stores.
The Appearance Of Cream Of Tartar
Cream of tartar has a distinct appearance that sets it apart from other powders in the spice aisle. It is a fine, white powder that is often mistaken for baking soda or baking powder due to its similar texture and color. However, cream of tartar has a unique chemical composition that makes it stand out.
The powder is made up of potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate, which is a byproduct of wine-making. It is often found in small, clear plastic containers or glass jars with a screw-on lid. The packaging may also include the chemical name of the ingredient.
Cream of tartar has a slightly grainy texture and can clump together if exposed to moisture. However, it is easily broken up with a fork or whisk before use. When added to liquids, it dissolves quickly and leaves no residue.
How To Use Cream Of Tartar In Cooking And Baking
Cream of tartar is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways in cooking and baking. Here are some tips on how to use cream of tartar in your culinary creations:
1. Stabilize whipped egg whites: When making meringue, adding a pinch of cream of tartar while whipping the egg whites helps to strengthen the bubbles and keep them stable. Use a ratio of 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar per one large egg white to ensure thick meringue that holds its volume.
2. Prevent sugar crystals in candy-making: Cream of tartar can prevent the formation of large sugar crystals in candy-making. Add a pinch of cream of tartar to boiling sugar for smooth caramel and crunchy, pro-level candy.
3. Add loft to baked goods: Cream of tartar can activate the leavening in baking recipes that call for baking soda, as it is acidic and reacts with the baking soda. It can even be used as a substitute for baking powder. Combine 1 teaspoon of baking soda for every 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, then substitute for baking powder at a 1:1 ratio.
4. Add tang to snickerdoodles: Cream of tartar is often used in snickerdoodle cookie recipes to give them their subtle tang and chewy texture. Use a ratio of 2:1 cream of tartar to baking powder.
5. Make fluffier whipped cream: Adding a pinch of cream of tartar to heavy whipping cream will make it last longer both in the fridge and at room temperature. Plus, it will make it easier to pipe and spread.
6. Retain color in steamed and boiled vegetables: Adding 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar to the water before cooking will improve the color of steamed and boiled vegetables without changing their taste.
7. Replace buttermilk in a recipe: If you want the tanginess of buttermilk but only have regular milk (or plant-based milk), you can add a small amount of cream of tartar. For every cup of milk or dairy-free milk, use 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar—but add it to the recipe’s dry ingredients to avoid clumping.
8. Make homemade playdough: Many recipes for homemade playdough call for up to 1 tablespoon cream of tartar, which gives the dough a smoother, more elastic texture.
9. Clean coffee stains and more: Cream of tartar can even be used as a cleaning agent! Use it to remove dark brown coffee stains from your favorite mug or make a paste with white vinegar to clean burner pans, grout lines, ovens, sinks, and even remove mold and mildew.
By incorporating cream of tartar into your cooking and baking repertoire, you can elevate your dishes with its unique properties and versatility.
What Is Tartar Sauce?
Tartar sauce is a popular condiment made with mayonnaise as its base and various flavorings such as chopped pickles, capers, onions, and herbs. Its name is derived from the Tartar people, a nomadic tribe from Central Asia who were known for their love of meat dishes. Tartar sauce is commonly served with seafood dishes such as fish and chips, crab cakes, and shrimp cocktails. However, it can also be used as a dip or spread for other dishes such as sandwiches, grilled vegetables, and baked potatoes.
The origins of tartar sauce can be traced back to the French sauce gribiche, which is made with hard-boiled egg yolks, oil, and vinegar. The modern version of tartar sauce was first introduced in the United States in the early 20th century and has since become a popular condiment worldwide.
Tartar sauce is a rich and creamy condiment that adds a tangy and savory flavor to any dish it accompanies. Its versatility makes it a favorite among many food enthusiasts who enjoy experimenting with different flavor combinations.
The Ingredients Of Tartar Sauce
Tartar sauce is a classic condiment that is easy to make at home with just a few simple ingredients. The base of tartar sauce is usually mayonnaise, which gives it a creamy texture and a rich flavor. Other key ingredients include pickles, lemon juice, and herbs.
To make a basic tartar sauce, you will need about 1 cup of mayonnaise, 2 finely diced dill pickles, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of dried dill, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. These ingredients can be adjusted to taste depending on your preferences.
Sweet green relish or chopped dill pickles can also be used in place of the diced pickles for a slightly different flavor. Some recipes also call for the addition of yellow mustard or capers for extra tanginess.
When making tartar sauce, it is important to finely chop the pickles and herbs to ensure they are evenly distributed throughout the sauce. A small amount of sea salt and ground black pepper can also be added for seasoning.