CREAM OF TAR TAR
Cream of tartar is one of those mystery ingredients you might have seen without knowing what it’s used for. After all, its name doesn’t give you a clue—not like baking powder or baking soda. Yet just a touch of it makes a big difference in your baking and cooking. Here’s what it is and how to use it in recipes, and even around the house.
First of all, it’s not creamy. It’s a dry, powdery, acidic byproduct of fermenting grapes into wine. Its scientific name is potassium bitartrate, aka potassium hydrogen tartrate or tartaric acid (hence the commercial name). But you can find it in the spice aisle labeled as plain ol’ cream of tartar.
Adding a small amount of cream of tartar when you’re beating egg whites—usually 1/8 teaspoon per egg white—speeds up the creation of foam and helps stabilize the structure of those minuscule air bubbles you’re whipping up. In baking, this means mile-high meringue pies, melt-in-your-mouth meringue cookies, and angel food cakes that practically float off the plate.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG), also known as sodium glutamate, is the sodium salt of glutamic acid.
MSG is found naturally in some foods including tomatoes and cheese.MSG is used in cooking as a flavor enhancer with an umami taste that intensifies the meaty, savory flavor of food, as naturally occurring glutamate does in foods such as stews and meat soups.