Have you ever wondered what that mysterious, white powder is that some recipes call for? Cream of tartar is potassium bitartrate. It is an organic (meaning natural) acid that is found in many plants like grapes, tamarind, and our own baobab tree. Most people know it as a white powder that is used in baking and as a household cleaner. This acidic substance has been around for the best part of 7000 years. Archeological evidence of sediment traces have been found in wine jars in Iran, dating back almost 7000 years.
Cream of tartar is a byproduct of winemaking. This acid crystallizes on the inner walls of wine drums and vats. It is scraped from the sides. This half wet substance is then flash-dried at very high temperatures. (800-900 degrees Celcius).
It has quite a number of cooking, baking, cleaning and health benefits.
If sprinkled on surfaces, it deters ants. It is an effective stain remover. Make a paste of cream of tartar and a little bit of lemon juice. Leave the paste on for an hour and then wash the items normally. It is very effective on dirty collars. Dampen the collar, sprinkle on and rub in. Wash normally.
It makes a good drain cleaner- 4 units of bicarbonate of soda on 1 unit of cream of tartan. Cream of tartan removes rust stains from aluminum.
A DIY substitute for baking powder is a quarter teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and half a teaspoon of cream of tartar. Adding a pinch of cream of tartan to veggies whilst cooking will help it to retain its fresh color. In recipes, it can be replaced with buttermilk, yogurt, lemon juice or vinegar. It is useful in the making of boiled sweets, as it helps the sugar to crystallize in a finer pattern. In baking, it makes things fluffier, and smoother, like meringue. The reason is that it helps the protein parts in the eggwhite to not stick together.
As far as health benefits go it is a popular aid in quitting smoking. It removes nicotine from the body very quickly, therefore easing the withdrawal symptoms. A teaspoon of cream of tartar in a glass of orange juice can be taken daily for 7 days.
It lowers blood pressure because it reduces the effect of sodium in the body. A half teaspoon a day is enough in a glass of warm water.
It helps with arthritis pain in the same way that Epsom salt does, because of the high magnesium content. Add half a cup to bath water and soak in it for 30 min.
Cream of tartar fights urinary tract infections. A teaspoon of cream of tartar in a glass of warm water can be taken for 3 days.
It also relaxes the body and mind, due to the magnesium content.
Other natural sources of cream of tartar include tamarind. This fruit in pod form is sour-sweet. It grows naturally in places like Sudan and India. It is popular in Indian cooking. Our own baobab fruit also comes in pod form. The dried fruit powder is high in cream of tartar. These fruits control obesity. It is exceptionally high in Vit C, therefore boosting the immune system. It contains a large amount of fiber that eases constipation. It lowers bad cholesterol. It is a very good source of iron. It aids diabetes as it stabilises blood glucose levels.
Cream of tartar does not have an expiry date and will keep unspoiled forever if kept dry and out of direct sunlight. It is inexpensive and just a little bit can make a huge difference. Many expensive medicines and substances can be replaced by this simple acid.