Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.
Cream of tartar helps to stabilize and give more volume to beaten egg whites, to produce a creamier texture in candy and frostings, and it is also used as a leavening agent in baking powder. There isn't a great substitute for it, but sometimes you can get away without it -- what kind of recipe do you need it for?
A bit of cream of tartar keeps eggs stiff when beaten. Personally I don't use it - I use a copper bowl to beat the eggs with a hand wisk - believe it or not, it is faster than a electric beater! ( the copper works the egg white same as tartar)
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