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Is Cream Of Tartar Vegan? Let’s Hear The Answer From Our Nutrition Experts In 2024
Cream of tartar is a highly versatile baking ingredient that adds chewiness to cookies, fluffiness to egg whites, and can even help to clean your home. However, for vegans, particularly those new to the lifestyle, it can be a little confusing. With the word cream in its name, one might assume it contains animal-derived or dairy ingredients.
So, is cream of tartar vegan? The answer is yes, but it comes with a bit of controversy that we will delve into in this article.
Is Cream Of Tartar Vegan?
Yes, cream of tartar is a derivative of grapes and citrus fruits, and it is vegan friendly. Controversy stems from wineries that use animal products for their winemaking process. Some vegans may choose to ensure their cream of tartar is sourced from vegan wineries.
Is Cream Of Tartar Vegan-Friendly?
Cream of tartar is vegan-friendly, as it is a byproduct of winemaking and is derived from grapes or fresh grape juice. Tartar is short for tartaric acid, which is naturally occurring in citrus fruits and grapes. These fruits are vegan foods. There is no cream in it at all, but it can help add creaminess to certain dishes without using a dairy-based product.
Vegan Controversies Around The Production Process Of Cream Of Tartar
The controversy around cream of tartar stems from the winemaking process. Some say that if it is derived from a wine that utilizes animal-based products in its wine-making, as some do, then it cannot be considered vegan. However, if it originates from a winery that strictly employs plant-based materials, then it is vegan.
There arises debate within the vegan community. Yet, cream of tartar is generally manufactured without the involvement of animal products. Thus, it is widely regarded as vegan-friendly.
What Is Cream Of Tartar?
Cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate, is a white powder derived from tartaric acid. This acid naturally forms on the walls of wine-cellar vats during the wine-making process. It is a weak acid with a pH of five.
It is similar to lemon or vinegar in that it is acidic. The crystallization of potassium bitartrate can occur in two ways: during the fermentation of grape juice to produce wine or when grape juice is chilled for a long time. In both cases, the resulting crystals are collected and processed into a vegan substance, i.e., cream of tartar.
How Is It Made?
The production process of cream of tartar starts with the fermentation of grape juice to make wine. Yeast is used in this process. During fermentation, sediment forms and settles at the bottom of barrels. The sediment is then collected and dried to produce cream of tartar.
Utility Of Cream Of Tartar
Cream of tartar has a wide range of uses, from the kitchen to the bathroom, and both vegan and non-vegan! With cream of tartar, you can:
- Add tang and flavor to cookies and neutralize any taste from the plain baking soda.
- Prevent sugar crystals from forming in sugar syrups and vegan baking, such as in vegan meal replacement bars.
- Destabilize bubbles in egg whites, making them stiff and perfect for baking; note that egg sources are not vegan.
- Make a stiff peaked vegan whipped cream with coconut cream.
- Use it to make vegan meringues that hold their shape.
- Thickens egg whites and keeps frostings from crystallizing in baking recipes — again, eggs are not vegan.
- Maintain the bright green color of boiled fruits and veggies and prevent the browning of potatoes.
- Reduce the cooking time of legumes.
- Use as a leavening agent in baking.
- Add creaminess and body to soups and sauces.
- Use as an anticaking and thickening agent.
- Can be used for cleaning pans and coffee pots, removing stains from clothing, and polishing metal surfaces.
- Use it as a cleaning paste for toilets, bathtubs and sinks.
- Use it to clean your refrigerator.
A word of caution: Various health blogs suggest cream of tartar can be used for multiple medicinal purposes. They cite relieving constipation, reversing arthritis, treating heartburn, and improving acne-prone skin. However, ingestion of high levels of potassium can lead to a condition called hyperkalemia, according to case studies. Before utilizing any product for medical ailments, speaking with a licensed healthcare provider is best.
Alternatives To Cream Of Tartar
There are various alternatives to cream of tartar, both vegan and non-vegan.
Some vegan substitutes for cream of tartar include:
- White Vinegar: White vinegar is a highly acidic liquid that can be used as a substitute for cream of tartar. It is over a hundred times as acidic as cream of tartar but helps stabilize egg whites when baking. Use one teaspoon of vinegar for every half teaspoon of cream of tartar called for in a recipe. It is again important to note that while egg whites contain no animal cells, making them vegetarian, they still are produced by animals, meaning they are not vegan.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon juice can also be used as a replacement for cream of tartar. Its acidity levels are higher, but you still can achieve similar results in your recipes. Use one teaspoon of lemon juice for every half teaspoon of cream of tartar.
- Baking Powder: Baking powder, which contains tartaric acid and baking soda, is another vegan-friendly alternative to cream of tartar. It can provide similar leavening properties in your baking. Use one and a half teaspoons of baking powder for every one teaspoon of cream of tartar.
If you’re okay with non-vegan alternatives, here are a couple of options to consider:
- Yogurt: While yogurt can serve as a substitute for cream of tartar due to its acidity, it is not suitable for vegans as it is derived from milk. Use half a cup of yogurt for every quarter teaspoon of cream of tartar, but you will need to remove the equivalent amount from the liquid ingredients in the recipe.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk, made from cream or milk, can also be used as a replacement for cream of tartar. The substitution ratios are the same for that of yogurt.
Cream of tartar is a vegan-friendly pantry staple with many uses. However, some vegans will not consume it unless they know it was sourced from a winery that also does not use any animal products in their winemaking process. In these cases, using a cream of tartar that is certified vegan is necessary, as is using a vegan substitute or sticking with a vegan meal delivery service.
While some sources state it can be used for health purposes, ingesting too much can lead to increased potassium in the blood, which can be life-threatening. It is better to stick with well-balanced vitamin and mineral blends or green powders that are unlikely to increase electrolytes to dangerous levels.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, cream of tartar is naturally gluten-free. If you are highly sensitive, be sure to only purchase certified gluten-free cream of tartar to avoid any cross-contamination.
Yes, despite the word cream being in its name, cream of tartar is completely dairy-free. The word cream refers to its creaminess, not its source.
Other acids can substitute cream of tartar, such as lemon juice or vinegar.
Cream of tartar is made from crystallized tartaric acid, which is a by-product of winemaking.
No, cream of tartar does not contain any gelatin.
+ 2 sources
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- S. Kherici, D. Benouali and Benyetou, M. (2013). Recovery of Cream of Tartar from Winemaking Solid Waste by Cooling Crystallization Process. [online] Journal of Chemical Engineering & Process Technology. Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Recovery-of-Cream-of-Tartar-from-Winemaking-Solid-Kherici-Benouali/4ab38577348de906a422a3d8e71e389c4f014276.
- Rusyniak, D.E., Durant, P.J., Mowry, J.B., Johnson, J.A., Sanftleben, J.A. and Smith, J. (2012). Life-Threatening Hyperkalemia from Cream of Tartar Ingestion. Journal of Medical Toxicology, [online] 9(1), pp.79–81. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s13181-012-0255-x.