Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Soda Making > Why cream of tarter?
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Old 06-14-2013, 06:09 PM   #1
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Default Why cream of tarter?

So I cant seem to find an answer for this. In the distant past I had seen a root beer recipe or two that called for cream of tarter. What does cream of tarter do for the root beer?


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Old 06-14-2013, 06:43 PM   #2
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Never seen it in a root beer recipe, but I used to have a Ginger Beer Plant and I heard claims that it increased head retention.


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Old 06-14-2013, 06:43 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'm assuming head formation and retention as well.
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Old 06-14-2013, 08:24 PM   #4
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I'm guessing it's either used for sugar inversion (added during heating with the sugar) or as an acidic method of adding some head to the root beer.
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Old 06-14-2013, 09:54 PM   #5
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Thank you all very much. I was leaning towards something to do with the head retention, but was not 100% sure. Thanks again.
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Old 06-15-2013, 05:38 PM   #6
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I asked the same question-- some of the replies I got are here

Since I started adding it, I've noticed a taste difference in the final soda.

At least give it a try and see if you like it.
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Old 06-18-2013, 07:00 AM   #7
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I'm not sure how it would help with head retention. You need a protein for that.

Cream of tartar (or tartaric acid) is used to break up and stabilize table sugar (which is a disaccharide and is relatively low in sweetness) into its 2 component parts: fructose (considerably sweeter) and glucose. In cooking, this is referred to as "inverting" sugar. Critic acid is also a popular acid used for the same purpose.
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Old 06-18-2013, 04:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingDutchman View Post
I'm not sure how it would help with head retention. You need a protein for that.

Cream of tartar (or tartaric acid) is used to break up and stabilize table sugar (which is a disaccharide and is relatively low in sweetness) into its 2 component parts: fructose (considerably sweeter) and glucose. In cooking, this is referred to as "inverting" sugar. Critic acid is also a popular acid used for the same purpose.
I think it's used with egg whites to stabilize them when they are whipped. Now, it's possible that it is being used to invert sugar somehow, but, I'm not sure why you need that with root beer.

The third possiblity, possibly the most likely, it has been used incorrectly for years to help with the head when it's really not doing anything at all.
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:31 PM   #9
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Table sugar (sucrose) heated in the presence of an acid will hydrolyze to its constituants: glucose and fructose. Cream of tartar (tartaric acid) is used for this purpose because it doesn't have as strong a flavor as other readily available acids such as citric acid.

An invert sugar solution is helpful for a couple of reasons. 1) it is sweeter, and 2) it keeps better than a sucrose solution.

Fructose ranks highest in sweetness, followed by sucrose and glucose is third, so an invert sugar solution is sweeter than a sucrose solution.

It keeps better because it has twice as many solute molecules since each sucrose molecule will hydrolyze to one molecule of fructose and one molecule of glucose. This inhibits microbial growth a little bit and because there are now different types of molecules in solution, they interfere with each other's crystallization.

So when adding cream of tartar to a recipe, it needs to be added as the sugar is heated, and you won't achieve very much inversion without some significant heating. I've done 1 lb of sugar solution boiled for about 20 min to get where I want to be with it.

Otherwise, you're just adding an acid to your recipe, and a weak one at that. I'm not sure that on it's own it really does much for head retention. I've never seen a difference in head, but I haven't been really looking for that either.
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Old 06-19-2013, 01:11 AM   #10
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Wow I cannot tell you how informative and educational this is. I hate science, well maybe science hates me, but this I dont mind at all and I find somewhat interesting. Now with heating up the sugar for a long period of time before adding cream of tarter, I always add my brown sugar and other spices at the last 5 minutes of a boil. Is that long enough? For the sake of the sugar and sweetness, can I add the sugar sooner without any harm done to sweetenss and such?

Thank you all for your input on this. Very intriguing


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