Last Updated: August 19, 2022

Does Cream of Tartar Go Bad? How and Why?

does cream of tartar go bad

Unless you are an avid baker, you probably don’t use cream of tartar that much. You may even have never heard of it, to begin with. But regardless of the case, today I shall teach you about the cream of tartar, its usage, and how to store and preserve it in detail.

But does cream of tartar go bad? The short answer is yes. But it can be easily prevented, so I urge you to read this article.

What is Cream of Tartar?

Cream of tartar is a white powdery substance. It is a stabilizing agent that is primarily used in baking. Its chemical name is Potassium Bitartrate, made from tartaric acid, a byproduct of winemaking. It closely resembles baking powder and icing sugar. It is usually available in small airtight containers and tins.

Fun Fact : You can use cream of tartar to clean. Mixing it with vinegar makes a mixture that is a good cleaning agent.

Recipes require small amounts of cream of tartar, so often, people use it once and forget about it. If you find some old Cream of tartar in the back of your kitchen pantry and wonder if it’s still good, look out for these signs.

What Does Cream of Tartar Do?

  • It helps maintain volume.
  • Cream of tartar helps food containing air bubbles like cream, batter, etc., hold and preserve their volume, shape, and fluffiness.
  • It serves as a leavening agent.
  • It is probably one of the best leavening agents in the baking world.
  • It keeps food fluffy.
  • Any cake or bread or even cream remains fluffy when you add cream of tartar to it.
  • It is an anti-caking agent.
  • Cream of tartar helps prevent lumps and improves the consistency of any baked good it is added to.
  • It prevents sugar from crystallizing.
  • Candy making becomes easy when a small amount of cream of tartar is added to it.
  • It prevents burning and discoloration. 
  • Adding cream of tartar to cakes, pancakes, etc prevents them from browning and discoloration and makes them look pretty and presentable.
  • It stabilizes egg whites.
  • Egg whites used in creams and batters benefit significantly from adding small amounts of cream of tartar to them. 

How To Tell If Cream of Tartar Has Gone Bad?

It has gone bad if you see these signs in your cream of tartar.

  • Color: If the Cream of tartar isn’t purely white and appears discolored, then immediately discard it as it has gone bad.
  • Texture: If your Cream of tartar has gone lumpy and caked up, it has gone bad.
  • Mold: If you see any mold or fungal growth, it has gone bad.
  • Smell: Good cream of tartar has a light tangy smell. But spoiled cream of tartar has no scent.

Why Does Cream of Tartar Go Bad?

Cream of tartar goes bad due to a few main reasons they are:

  • Moisture
  • Exposure to air
  • Contamination 

How to Prevent Cream of Tartar from Going Bad?

You can take a few precautionary steps to prevent these things from spoiling your cream of tartar.

  • Always use airtight containers to store cream of tartar.
  • Ensure that you close the container’s lids.
  • Use separate utensils to handle it. This prevents cross-contamination.

Following these steps, you can adequately store cream of tartar without spoiling it.

Substitutes for Cream of Tartar

Depending on the recipe and dish you are making, cream of tartar can be substituted with these ingredients.

  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Yogurt
  • Buttermilk
  • Cake Improvers
  • Emulsifiers
a glass of buttermilk
Image credit: Shutterstock

Answering Some FAQ

Does cream of tartar need to be refrigerated?

You do not need to refrigerate cream of tartar as long as you can store it properly.

Can you freeze cream of tartar?

Yes, it can also be refrigerated.

How long does cream of tartar last after being opened?

Up to 4 years as long as it is kept airtight.

Can you use expired cream of tartar?

Yes, as long as it is still good.

Does cream of tartar contain dairy?

No, it has no dairy or cream in it.

Does cream of tartar lose its potency?

Yes, like any product, it will gradually lose its potency and effectiveness.

Does cream of tartar have a taste?

Yes, a slightly tangy and metallic taste.

Is cream of tartar healthy and safe to eat?

According to the FDA, you can eat cream of tartar but only in small quantities.

To Conclude

Cream of tartar, despite its misleading name, is one of the essential baking ingredients in the world of baking. Even though it is a processed ingredient, it is safe to eat but only in small quantities.

Besides this, even after it has expired and spoiled, you can discard the spoiled bits and use the rest as a cleaner for surfaces and around your household. So next time, don’t immediately throw away your cream of tartar and put it to good use.

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