cream of tartar shelf life

Does Cream of Tartar Go Bad? All You Need To Know

Quick summary: No, cream of tartar cannot spoil, provided it is properly stored in a dry place.

You are already used to baking powder and its characteristics. It is dry and difficult to spoil, but over time it loses its features and will not help you much in preparing food if it has evaporated. Is the cream of tartar the same?

You are certainly on the right track. It is a similar situation which means that the product will not spoil in the classic sense of the word, but without its main characteristics of preventing caking and acting as a thickening agent, it will not be of much help to you. Here’s everything you need to know about the cream of tartar.

How Long Does Cream of Tartar Last?

Cream of tartar, contrary to its name, has nothing creamy in it. It is a powder with a dry texture and is used in small quantities to prepare dishes, mostly sweet. For example, this powder will provide a finer and firmer texture if you beat egg whites. Also, if you use sugar to create a sweet coating around cookies or fruit, this powdered friend will allow that sugar to spread nicely on the surface and prevent lumps from crystallizing. 

After all the above, it is clear that the cream of tartar is certainly not in use every day. Therefore, it is likely that it has been sitting in the kitchen cupboard for a long time. Here’s how long you can use it.

How long can it last

Cream of tartar will never spoil. But really, never as long as you kept it in a dry place and it didn’t come in contact with moisture. Generally, the shelf life is at least a few years from the date of manufacture, and you can use it for a long time beyond that written date without any worries. The only question is whether it has its initial potency, which you can check. So you don’t have to pay too much attention to the expiration date written on the package. If your cream of tartar is doing its job well, you can use it.

After opening

Opening the package of cream of tartar does not change anything about its durability. The only thing that changes is the easier path of moisture to the contents, so be sure to pay attention to the storage conditions. If dampness does not get into the box, the durability is the same.

Can Cream of Tartar Go Bad?

External influences are the only thing that can spoil the cream of tartar before time does. If everything is dry and suitable, you will be able to use this product for a very long span. Here are the signs that can reveal that something is not right.

Sign 1: The moisture reached the powder

Although the presence of moisture does not immediately mean spoilage, the cream of tartar itself will not function when it is thickened. In case you notice lumps or one big hard mass, you will have to throw everything away.

Sign 2: Mold appeared

It is really rare for this product to develop mold, but this is also possible if humidity has been present for a very long time in the jar. If you see any organic growth on the surface, it’s time to throw everything away.

Sign 3: Smell is funky 

Sometimes the appearance of mold may not be obvious to the eye, but a detective nose will notice the difference. If the powder has an unpleasant stale smell, it means that it is spoiled.

Sign 4: Potency is lost

This is certainly not a sign of spoilage, but it indicates a new supply of cream of tartar is needed. If the agent no longer works well when cooking, the potency has been lost, and you need a fresh reserve.

Which is the Best Way to Store Cream of Tartar?

The same rules apply to the cream of tartar as to its powdered relatives. There are a few requirements, and you can choose a pantry or a kitchen cabinet for the storage location. Everything will work fine as long as you follow these two rules.

Tip 1: Keep moisture away

Moisture is the true enemy of all powder products. Once dampness gets into the package, there is nothing you can do to improve the situation. Drying certainly won’t work. That’s why it’s better to prevent and make sure to keep the cream of tartar in a dry place away from possible moisture or strong heat sources.

Tip 2: Close the package well

After taking the amount you need, be sure to close the package well. If the powder is in the bag, fold the edge of the opening several times and then protect it with a clip. In addition to moisture, sometimes certain kitchen pests can enter the content, which will certainly not be a pretty sight.


How long can cream of tartar last after opening?

The correct answer would be until it loses its potency. You don’t have to worry about the expiration date.

How do you know if cream of tartar is bad?

If moisture has appeared in the product, if the powder has clumped, if you notice any organic growth on the surface, or if the product has a stale unpleasant odor.

How to check if the cream of tartar has lost potency?

The simplest trick is to add cream of tartar and a pinch of baking soda to a cup of warm water. If the reaction occurs and bubbles are formed, the product is still very active.


Cream of tartar is a very useful cooking friend for many things. However, its use is rare, and it very often happens that one package of this powder sits in the kitchen cabinet for years. 

If you do not allow moisture to come into contact with the contents, you can use the product without any worries for years until you use it up. Or at least until the cream of tartar loses its potential because that, too, will happen with time. But certainly, not in the short term. You don’t have to worry.

If your cream of tartar is accidentally ruined by moisture or it has no potency anymore, you might want to check these cream of tartar replacement ideas.

*image by bhofack2/depositphotos

About The Author

Scroll to Top