Does cream of tartar expire? (3 signs)

In this brief article, we will answer the question does cream of tartar expire, we will explain its shelf life and three signs of bad cream of tartar

Can cream of tartar go bad?

Yes, cream of tartar can go bad if it is exposed to moisture or direct light. If kept in a good storage environment where there is no light and no moisture, cream of tartar can last for a very long time.

Cream of tartar is a powdered form of tartaric acid which is a substance made for making wine. It is used due to its acidic nature and stable shelf life.

What is the shelf life of cream of tartar?

From a theoretical standpoint, cream of tartar can last for an indefinite amount of time as long as it is kept away from sources of direct light, air, and moisture. However, to be on the safe side, you can say that cream of tartar retains optimum quality for 5 years, after which, its taste starts to decline.

Uses of cream of tartar:

Cream of tartar is a widely used food additive which is known for its shelf stability. It is used in many dishes including deserts and other food items. Some of its common uses are:

  • It stabilizes the egg whites in soufflés and meringue pie, it also helps it function properly
  • It acts as a leavening agent in pancakes and other yeast free baked products
  • It is combined with baking soda to make baked goods fluffier and better
  • It prevents sugar from crystallizing especially in dressings, icings and syrups

Shelf life of cream of tartar:

Cream of tartar is a very stable product due to its high acidity. It stays safe in proper storage conditions and you can use it even years after buying it. It has infinite shelf life when stored in proper conditions.

You can use cream of tartar forever if it is free from moisture and other spoilage factors. Sometimes cream of tartar has a commercial expiry date due to legal requirements. If you are sure you have stored the product properly you can still use it after its expiration date

How to store cream of tartar?

Cream of tartar is in powder form and more at risk of going bad in case of moisture exposure. To get maximum shelf life it is best to store cream of tartar in proper packaging and storage conditions. The proper storage conditions are:

Storage conditions:

Cream of tartar is stored in the kitchen pantry with no direct exposure to light and moisture. It is stored in a dark, dry place to avoid its spoilage. There should not be direct light and water nearby as it dissolves the powder


Cream of tartar is stored in airtight bags or containers, mostly plastic. It is kept safe from any direct exposure to heat or moisture conditions. It has the ability to draw moisture from the environment to prevent it from being kept in closed packaging.

How to tell if cream of tartar has gone bad?

Cream of tartar is a shelf stable product which stays safe if stored properly. If there is no direct exposure to sunlight it stays in the kitchen pantry for many years. Still sometimes it goes bad which might be because of any reason. Some of the signs that cream of tartar has gone bad are:

  1. If it has moisture in it, it will start to form a mold which is a sign of bad tartar cream of tartar. Molding is a fungal attack and such products should not be used for consumption. In case there are some small clumps that means water has somehow found its way to cream of tartar.
  2.  Cream of tartar is white powder so discoloration clearly means it has gone bad. If there are dark specks in cream of tartar, it is either indication of mold or moisture exposure so it is best to discard such cream of tartar
  3. An off odor and bad taste with dark specks mean cream of tartar has spoiled and you should not consume it in any way

Even though clumping is a sign of moisture exposure to cream of tartar, you can still use clumped cream of tartar. In case of several small clumps, you can use a sieve to separate them out. if there is one big clump, you can also break it with a little pressure.

Substitutes of cream of tartar:

Cream of tartar is used in many recipes due to different functions. If you don’t want to use it, you can use many other products as its substitutes.

Some of the products which can be used as the substitute to cream of tartar are:

  • Same amount of lemon juice is used instead of cream of tartar in recipes to provide the same acidic flavor to them
  • White vinegar is also used in many recipes in the same amount as cream of tartar is used
  • You can also use baking powder to replace cream of tartar in recipes which need baking of the product. But the amount of baking powder is doubled as a substitute for cream of tartar


In this brief article, we have answered the question does cream of tartar expire, we have also explained its shelf life and three signs of bad cream of tartar


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