(1) Does cream of tartar go stale or lose it’s effectiveness with age?
(2) If you do not have cream of tartar, is there a substitute? I am baking Snickerdoodle cookies.
Shelf Life of Cream of Tartar – From everything I have read and seen in our winery, it has an indefinite shelf life if kept tightly closed and stored away from heat. As my husband and I have a vineyard and make wine, I see no reason that you can not keep it indefinitely.
Cream of tartar is the common name for potassium hydrogen tartrate and also tartaric acid, an acid salt that has a number of uses in cooking. It is obtained when tartaric acid is half neutralized with potassium hydroxide, transforming it into a salt. Grapes are the only significant natural source of tartaric acid, and cream of tartar is obtained from sediment produced in the process of aging wine. It is found on the insides of the wine barrels and sometimes at the bottom of bottles of wine. It crystallizes out as a hard crust in the barrels.
It is best known for helping stabilize and give more volume to beaten egg whites. It is used as the leavening agent in baking powders. It is also used to produce a creamier texture candy and frosting. It is used commercially in some soft drinks, candies, bakery products, gelatin desserts, and photography products. It can also be used to clean brass and copper cookware.
Substitute – The answer is – there is not a good substitution for cream of tartar. If it is used along with baking soda in a cake or cookie recipe, omit both and use baking powder instead. If the recipe calls for baking soda and cream of tarter, I would just use baking powder.
Normally, when cream of tartar is used in a cookie, it is used together with baking soda. The two of them combined work like double-acting baking powder. When substituting for cream of tartar, you must also substitute for the baking soda. If your recipe calls for baking soda and cream of tarter, I would just use baking powder.
One (1) teaspoon baking powder is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar. If there is additional baking soda that does not fit into the equation, simply add it to the batter.
Remember – When making substitutions in baking, you may end up with a somewhat different product. The taste, moisture content, texture and weight of a product can be affected by changing ingredients.