Some time ago, you may have gone on a baking spree and bought a large pack of cream of tartar. But soon, your craze for baking faded. And the thickening and anti-caking agent was forgotten in a corner in your pantry.
Maybe you rediscovered it now and are wondering whether it is spoiled.
You may assume that your pack of potassium bitartrate may not get spoiled because it is a powder.
Your assumption is right!
But, just like other powders that you use for cooking purposes, such as baking powder and baking soda, it also loses its potency over time.
Let us look at the shelf life, storage, and signs of spoilage of cream of tartar.
How To Know If Cream Of Tartar Has Gone Off
Be warned: Water is the chief foe of your cream of tartar.
Don’t panic if a little bit of water enters the container. It won’t lead to mold growth. A few lumps may form, that’s all. Use a sieve, spice grinder, or mortar-pestle to break the lumps.
However, when plenty of moisture finds its way into the container, your powder may get spoiled.
Signs of spoilage include:
- The powder may become a solidified lump.
- There may be organic or mold growth on its surface.
- Its color may change, or there may be dark specks.
- It may emit an odd smell.
Now: If your cream of tartar does not show any such signs, but it has been lying in your pantry for a long time, make sure that it is still potent. It will save your dish from getting ruined, and you will not have to redo everything from scratch.
How To Store Cream Of Tartar
The cream of tartar is like baking powder and baking soda. So, you can keep it in the same way as them. Your best choice is to keep it in your pantry or kitchen cupboard. The latter is more practical if you are going to use your cream of tartar often. Make sure the place is cool, dry, and away from sources of light and heat.
Remember: Always close its lid tightly. Your cream of tartar powder tends to absorb moisture from its surroundings.
Before you continue: If you bought your cream of tartar in a paper package, once you open it, pour the contents into a jar. Paper packages cannot protect it against moisture and strong odors.
How Long Cream Of Tartar Lasts
Here is some good news: If your cream of tartar does not absorb moisture, you can use it forever!
There may be a best before date on your package. It won’t get spoiled even after that date. But there is no harm in checking its effectiveness before using your cream of tartar past that date.
Even if your package doesn’t have a date, it will retain its potency for a minimum of 4 years from the time of production.
Here’s the deal: To check whether your cream of tartar continues to be potent or not, mix half a teaspoon of your powder into half a cup of lukewarm water. Add a little (a pinch) baking soda and stir the mixture. If foam or bubbles appear, it means your powder is potent. You can use it for your whipped cream, egg whites, or baking.
In short, you can keep your opened or unopened jar of cream of tartar in your pantry and use it for 6-more months after the best before date mentioned on the package.
The Bottom Line On Cream Of Tartar
Cream of tartar is like other powders that you use for cooking. It can last forever if you do not allow it to come into contact with water.
Wonder what to do if it does not pass the potency test?
Don’t be in a hurry to throw it away. You can use it for cleaning purposes. Just add it to some vinegar and scrub your dishwasher, sink, or toilet.
The best part is you can even use it to polish your metal and stainless steel equipment.