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This is a powder made from the crystalline residue found inside wine casks and is refined from the brownish deposits into a white powder.
The acidity of cream of tartar helps add volume to egg whites while they are being whipped as well as adding stability to the egg whites after they are whisked.
Cream of tartar is also used as the acid component in baking powder to react with baking soda to act as a leavening agent.