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Cream of Tartar vs Tartar Sauce

Are Cream of Tartar and Tartar Sauce the same thing?

Seeing this question made me think of a Before and After category puzzle on Wheel of Fortune where the answer is "Cream of Tartar Sauce."

No, they are not the same thing.  Cream of tartar is a dry white powder that is actually finely ground tartaric acid.  The chemical name is potassium bitartrate and the formula, for those who care, is KC4H5O6.  It is found as a sediment in the making of wine (see Crystals in Wine).  Cream of tartar has three main uses in the home kitchen -- to stabilize egg whites when they are whipped (see Beating Egg Whites - How Cream of Tartar Helps), in candy making to help reduce the formation of crystals in boiling sugar, and as a leavening agent when combined with baking soda (see Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder).

Tartar sauce is a mayonnaise-based condiment most frequently served with seafood.  Typical ingredients, other than the mayonnaise are chopped dill pickles, capers, lemon juice, vinegar, onions or shallots, and various herbs and seasonings.  Here is my recipe for homemade tartar sauce which I like to serve with crab cakes:

Homemade Tartar Sauce

  1/3 c Mayonnaise
1   tsp   Lemon Zest
1   tbsp   Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 clove 
Garlic, minced
 1 1/2 tbsp Chopped Caper Berries, rinsed and drained
 1 1/2 tsp    Chopped Fresh Chives
 2   tsp   Chopped Fresh Cilantro or Tarragon

    Salt and Pepper, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together and refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour for the flavors to meld.  Quantities can be adjusted to suit your taste.

I like to zest the lemon and mince the garlic using a micro-plane since that way they mix right in without any chunks or stringy bits, but both can be done with a knife if you prefer.  Also, I prefer the larger caper berries to the non-pareil size, although any size would work.

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