tartaric acid

Tartaric acid is a by-product from wine making which is used as an acid regulator in food systems.

Tartaric Acid

Also known as Cream of Tartar

What is Tartaric Acid?

Tartaric acid is an acid regulator in food systems, meaning it enhances fruit flavors and stabilizes batter systems and color. It is odorless and has an acidic taste.1 Its salt form, potassium bitartrate, is commonly known as cream of tartar.


Tartaric acid occurs naturally in many plants, most notably grapes. Commercially, it is obtained as a byproduct of wine-making.1

Chemical structure of tartaric acid.

Chemical structure of tartaric acid.


Tartaric acid can be used as a firming agent, a flavor enhancer, a flavoring agent, a humectant, a leavening acid, and a pH control agent in food.1


Its salt form, cream of tartar, is commonly mixed with sodium bicarbonate and sold as baking powder, used as a leavening agent in food preparation.2 Cream of tartar is also used in cooking candies and frostings for cakes. It stabilizes egg whites and foam systems as well.3


Tartaric acid has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that keep the immune system healthy. It aids digestion, improving intestinal functions. It also improves glucose tolerance and intestinal absorption.3

FDA Regulations

L-(+)-tartaric acid is GRAS regulated in the article 21CFR184.1099 of the FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations.1


  1. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21CFR184.1099. Accessdata.fda.gov. 1 Apr. 2016. www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=184.1099. Accessed 27 June 2017.
  2. Double-Acting Baking Powder | Baking Ingredients. Bakerpedia. https://bakerpedia.com/ingredients/double-acting-baking-powder/. Accessed 27 June 2017.
  3. Spiller, G.A., Story, J.A., Furumoto, E.J., Chezem, J.C., and Spiller, M. Effect of tartaric acid and dietary fibre from sun-dried raisins on colonic function and on bile acid and volatile fatty acid excretion in healthy adults. British Journal of Nutrition 90.04 (2003):803.