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Cream of tartar, sometimes referred to as tartaric acid, is actually refined tartaric acid. Tartaric acid is the brownish-red powder that precipitates in a crust onto the walls of wine casks. The French discovered that after it is refined into a white acidic powder, cream of tartar can then be used in baking. Cream of tartar adds an extra bite to foods and is also a leavening agent in baking powders.

Cream of tartar can be used to brighten delicate whites, like doilies and handkerchiefs. Simply soak in a solution of 1 tbsp. cream of tartar, a couple of drops of laundry detergent and water, and then run through the washer as usual.

You can make your own high quality baking powder by combining a ½ cup cream of tartar with a ¼ cup baking soda. Delicate toppings like meringue are stabilized when cream of tartar is used. In addition, when boiling vegetables, a little cream of tartar will reduce discoloring.

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