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Cream of Tartar Shelf Life

Can you tell me if Cream of Tartar has an expiry date?  How long can I safely keep it on my shelf?


Cream of Tartar, chemically known as Potassium Bitartrate (KHC4H4O6), is found as a white crystal on the inside of wine bottles or casks used in the making of wine.  It is used to stabilize beaten egg whites and to prevent sugar syrups from forming crystals.  It may also help reduce the discoloration of boiled vegetables, particularly in areas where the water is hard.   Cream of Tartar can be combined with baking soda to make fast-acting baking powder.

If well sealed and stored in a dry location at room temperature, it will keep indefinitely.


I use cream of tartar quite a bit instead of baking powder since we have a corn intolerance . A few weeks ago mine smelled like rancid oil or whole grain flour. Could it be due to contamination? I threw it out and started over - didn't know you could use it to clean aluminum.

Posted by: Elaine McCool, Nov 25, 2010Elaine beats me at $0.33. My McCormick's tin cost $0.97 and has 1977 marked on it.I'll see if Sandra is right when she say's "If well sealed and stored in a dry location at room temperature, it will keep indefinitely."

I have made Angel food cakes to sell at the local farmers market for twenty years - about 23 a week in the summer - and have never had one fall when turned up side down until this last two weeks when 3 of 5 fell out and two let loose on one side for an uneven side. I checked temp of oven and it is right so I trashed my big container of cream of tartar and bought a new one and my two cakes were beautiful. How can I test the old to see if it is still usable? It was probably 12 years old. I bought 25 oz bottle for $10.71 and the 3 0z bottle was $7.71 so I guess I can afford to throw the old stuff away.

I want to know why it's so expensive too? Just bought a jar at 7.79. Yikes!

date on the cream of tarter dates back to 2005? but your blog says as long it is stored at a good room temp. it should be good for indefinitely. ihopesoihopesoihopeso...........................

An all 'round good blog post..

Cracking blog..

You couldnt be more right!

I tend to use cream of tartar once a year -- for the Thanksgiving lemon meringue pie. That's why I was wondering whether or not it expires. Had to laugh about the "why is it so expensive" comment as mine is so old that the tin is marked $0.33!

Does anyone know why cream of tartar is so expensive?

Lucy,I have beaten egg whites without the use of cream of tartar and have attained excellent results.

Perhaps you are not getting enough air into the egg whites while beating them or the material of the bowl you were using to beat the egg whites was reacting with the egg whites to prevent them from getting the level of volume and stiffness needed.All the best to you,


While you mentioned that Cream of Tartar, in a properly sealed container, can be kept indefinitely, I used mine last evening and the beaten egg white did not turn out to be "stiff" as described in the Orange Chiffon Cake recipe. I suspect the culprit is my Cream of Tartar being too old, even though it was kept in a tightly sealed Tupperware.

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Rita H.

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