Tartaric acid is naturally found in many fruits, including the tamarind, from which our product (C19) is derived. Because it is also found in grapes, it is a by-product of the wine making process.
Food grade tartaric acid is used as the starter in our recipe for Mascarpone (click here for our online recipe or p.73 of our book Home Cheese Making (shown below)). Specifically, to make 10-12 ounces of Mascarpone, you add 1/4 teaspoon of tartaric acid to a quart of milk and cream (if you have raw cream, that might be 1/8 teaspoon).
Mascarpone is an easy cheese to make and there are many ways to make it, using vinegar or citric acid or even with our creme fraiche culture.* However, we have always recommended tartaric acid for beginners because it works consistently and it is very inexpensive.
In fact, it takes such a small quantity of tartaric acid to make Mascarpone that when you use the full 1/4 teaspoon, there is enough in one of our 4 ounce packets to make it 95 times! (That’s a lot of Tiramisu!)
Baked Goods: You can use tartaric acid as a substitute for cream of tartar by using half as much as the recipe calls for. (Cream of tartar is basically a weak version of tartaric acid.) You can even make your own baking powder by mixing half baking soda and half tartaric acid. Generally speaking, however, it is better to use tartaric acid when the recipe calls for cream of tartar than visa versa.
Cream of tartar is used as a leavener, because when it’s combined with baking soda, it produces carbon dioxide gas (the same gas that’s produced by yeast in bread baking). It’s frequently used in Mexican recipes for baked goods. Examples: Mexican Sugar Cookies, Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies, and Mexican Chocolate Souffles.
It’s also used when whipping egg whites to make the little air bubbles stronger and hold up better. So, most meringue pies, angel food cakes and some frostings have cream of tartar in them (Recipes include – Fondant Icing, and Boston Cream).
Candies: When making many candies (like toffee), cream of tartar is added to help change the syrup into crystals and to keep it from reverting to a liquid. Examples: Lollipop Recipe, Opera Cremes, and Divinity.
Vegetables: 1/8 teaspoon to a pot of boiling vegetables will keep the color vibrant.
Canning: Sometimes a little tartaric acid is added to low acid fruits when canning – particularly white peaches, figs, mangos and watermelon. A teaspoon of tartaric acid is dissolved in a cup of water, then added to the fruit before canning. Enough is added to bring the pH to a safe level – 4.6 or below. (Your pH tester will come in handy for that.) It may also be applied directly to fruit before boiling, as in these recipes: Apricot Jam and Cherry Jam.
Treating laundry stains, unclogging drains, polishing copper, shining stainless steel – there are so many ways to use it as a cleaner, we couldn’t even begin to cover them all. Here’s a list of 25 – http://www.thecountrychiccottage.net/cleaning-with-cream-of-tartar/
In general, you can use this basic formula to make a kitchen scrub powder:
- 2 1/2 cups baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups salt
- 1 tablespoons tartaric acid
When making wine, tartaric acid is used to control the acidity. One teaspoon in a gallon of wine increases the acidity by .01%. So, tartaric acid is usually sold by wine making suppliers. Unfortunately, many of them sell 2 ounce bottles for $11.99, so, if you’re making wine, be sure to check out our price – click here.
A small amount of tartaric acid is used when making the solution to develop pictures (3 teaspoons per 32 ounces).
Many people take it to aid in digestion (particularly glucose) and it is considered to be an anti-oxidant. It is also used to boost immunity. For these reasons, it is used in some medicines. However, we don’t recommend using it as a supplement, because if you take too much of it, it can be harmful. If you are taking it, be sure your daily dosage is no more than 2 grams per pound of your body weight.
Have your own use for it? Share them with us in the comments section below.
*Directions for making Mascarpone with creme fraiche culture are in Jim Wallace’s recipe on our website – click here