Bakers and those who enjoy experimenting in the kitchen love a pantry that is filled with baking essentials. One of these is cream of tartar. It is often used in recipes, and no kitchen is fully functioning without it. However, people who use it often might wonder on occasion whether cream of tartar goes bad.
Table of Contents
Does Cream of Tartar Go Bad?
Cream of tartar is tartaric acid in a powdered form. It is frequently used in baking recipes, and people tend to use it to lengthen their sugar’s shelf life. It is a fine white powder that will last for years if stored correctly.
Unlike some baking supplies, like baking soda, cream of tartar doesn’t go bad at all. Although it comes with a best-by date, this is only because food products are legally required to have expiration dates. The reality is that cream of tartar will be suitable for use for years to come if you keep it stored properly.
On average, people find it acceptable to use in baking and cooking for up to four years after the best to use by date has passed. If your cream of tartar is still sealed, it will remain safe for use for as long as it is sealed.
However, once you have opened it, you must store it correctly because improper storage is the only thing that can really go wrong with your cream of tartar.
How Long Does Cream of Tartar Last?
Most people are amazed to hear that cream of tartar is still acceptable for use years after it has passed the expiration date stated on the packaging. If you keep your cream of tartar well-stored so that it won’t get in touch with moisture or contamination, it will be acceptable to use long after the date has passed.
To ensure a long shelf life for your cream of tartar, you need to keep it in an airtight container that will prevent any moisture or mold from forming in your cream of tartar. You might notice lumps forming in your cream of tartar as time passes, and rest assured, as long as the clumps are soft and easy to break back into powder, you can still use it.
However, large hard lumps might indicate that your cream of tartar has drawn moisture, and in that case, it is advised to replace it. As long as your cream of tartar remains a white-powered ingredient, it is suitable for use, but you might find that it loses its quality and potency over time.
Therefore, if your cream of tartar is long past its expiration date and you still want to use it, you might want to consider using a little extra in your recipes to get the same effect. For example, you might want to add an additional 10% to your recipes if your cream of tartar is more than a year expired.
To be sure it is still effective enough to make your recipes successful, it is advised that you do the baking soda and warm water trick before using your expired cream of tartar in your baking.
The test is clearly explained under our Tips to Tell if Your Cream of Tartar Has Gone Bad section. It is a test that works every time, so don’t throw your expired cream of tartar out until you have tested its effectiveness and quality because you might find that it is still good for years to come.
How Long Does Cream of Tartar Last in Your Pantry?
|Unopened Cream of Tartar||4 years after best by date|
|Opened, stored in an airtight container||2 to 3 years after opening|
4 Tips to Tell if Your Cream of Tartar Has Gone Bad
Time passes quickly, and sometimes, we lose track of how long we have had things in our pantry. Therefore if you find yourself with your cream of tartar in your hand, wondering how long you’ve had it, you are not alone.
It is beneficial to know how to tell if your cream of tartar has gone bad. Here are a few tips that will help you see whether your cream of tartar has gone bad:
Examining your cream of tartar
Most things in your pantry will show signs if they have passed past their best. Cream of tartar is no exception. You should look closely at your cream of tartar if you aren’t sure whether it is bad or not. If your cream of tartar shows any spotting, discoloration, or mold contamination, it is time to replace it.
Smell your cream of tartar
Cream of tartar has a slightly acidic smell, so it is best to avoid using it if your cream of tartar has a neutral or an unusual smell.
Touch your cream of tartar
Cream of tartar should be a very fine powder. It isn’t unusual for it to form soft clumps as time passes, but if your cream of tartar has large hard chunks, it is best to buy some new cream of tartar. Overly clumpy cream of tartar isn’t ideal because it draws moisture and most likely has lost its potency.
Do the baking test.
If you are unsure about the quality of your cream of tartar, you can be sure whether it is still good by doing a little test that only takes a couple of minutes.
To do the test, you should start by preparing half a cup of lukewarm water. Next, take your cream of tartar and baking soda. Throw a pinch of baking soda and half a teaspoon of cream of tartar into the warm water. If the mixture makes bubbles, your cream of tartar is still acceptable for baking.
4 Tips To Store Cream of Tartar
Storing your cream of tartar correctly makes all the difference in the shelf life of your product. By following these tips to properly storing your cream of tartar, you will be able to use it for years to come. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when storing your cream of tartar:
Keep your cream of tartar in an airtight container
Moisture is the enemy when it comes to your cream of tartar. Therefore, you should store your cream of tartar in an airtight container because it will help prevent moisture from sneaking in and contaminating your cream of tartar.
Store your cream of tartar far away from direct sunlight
All baking products last longer without direct sunlight. Your cream of tartar is the same. By storing your cream of tartar far away from direct sunlight, it will not only last longer, but its quality and potency will be better, too.
Keep your cream of tartar far away from heat elements.
Cream of tartar doesn’t respond well to heat. If you want your cream of tartar to be useful for years to come, avoid storing it close to any area in your kitchen where it gets into contact with heat. Therefore, keeping your cream of tartar close to your oven or stove isn’t ideal.
Don’t keep your cream of tartar in the fridge or freezer.
Bakers might be tempted to keep their cream of tartar in the fridge, especially if they live in a humid area, but it isn’t advised. Keeping your cream of tartar in the fridge increases the risk of it drawing moisture and clumping up. Instead, stick to a dark space in a cupboard in your pantry.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Cream of Tartar
Expired cream of tartar doesn’t offer any risk in your baking, but it might not be as effective as you would expect. There have been diet crazes in the past where people consumed cream of tartar to function as a diuretic.
However, it is advised to avoid using cream of tartar as a weight-loss method. Overconsumption of cream of tartar can have detrimental effects on your kidneys and liver. Therefore it is better to stick to its function as a baking ingredient.
Can You Freeze Cream of Tartar?
As with most baking supplies, it isn’t recommended that you store your cream of tartar in the freezer. Freezing your cream of tartar improves the odds of your cream of tartar drawing moisture that will affect its quality and potency. The best place to store your cream of tartar is in the pantry in a dark and dry place where it won’t be exposed to heat or sunlight.
Since the only problem with storing your cream of tartar in the freezer is the risk that it will get moisture if you are using a container that is 100% sealed and won’t allow moisture to penetrate, then you can keep your cream of tartar in the freezer, but it isn’t necessary. All your cream of tartar needs is a cool, dry, and dark place.
Cream of tartar is one of those critical ingredients to have in your pantry if you are an avid baker. So many recipes call for it, and you don’t want to base your recipe selection based on the absence of cream of tartar. Instead, keep your cream of tartar well-stored so that it will last for years and it will give your great bakes every time.