Significance of Tartaric Acid - Food Science Universe (FSU)

Significance of Tartaric Acid – Food Science Universe (FSU)

Tartaric acid is a white, crystalline organic acid that occurs naturally in many fruits, especially grapes, but also bananas, tamarind and citrus. The salt, potassium bitartrate, commonly known as tartar, develops naturally during the fermentation process.

While it is known for its natural occurrence in grapes, it is also found in apples, cherries, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, strawberries, mangoes, and citrus fruits. Tartaric acid is preferably used in foods containing cranberries or grapes, especially wines, jellies and confectionery.

Derived from grapes, it is good for exfoliating the skin and stimulating collagen production. It helps with lines and wrinkles and also stimulates collagen production to make the skin appear firmer.

Tartaric acid is most immediately recognizable to wine drinkers as the source of “wine diamonds”, the tiny crystals of potassium bitartrate that sometimes spontaneously form on the cork or bottom of the bottle. These “tartrates” are harmless, although sometimes mistaken for broken glass, and are prevented in many wines by cold stabilization (which is not always preferred as it can alter the wine’s profile). The tartrates left on the inside of maturing vats were once an important industrial source of potassium bitartrate.

Tartaric acid plays an important role chemically in lowering the pH of fermented “must” to a level that many unwanted spoilage bacteria cannot live on, and acts as a preservative after fermentation. In the mouth, tartaric acid provides some of the acidity in the wine, although citric and malic acids also play a role.

Tartaric acid and its derivatives have a plethora of pharmaceutical applications. For example, it has been used in the production of effervescent salts, in combination with citric acid, to improve the taste of oral medications. The potassium antimonyl derivative of the acid known as a tartar emetic is included in small doses as an expectorant in cough syrup. Tartaric acid also has various applications for industrial use. The acid has been observed to chelate metal ions such as calcium and magnesium. Therefore, the acid has served in the agricultural and metal industries as a chelating agent for complex micronutrients in soil fertilizer and for cleaning metal surfaces consisting of aluminum, copper, iron and alloys of these metals, respectively.

Author: Samra Shaheen (MPhil Food Science and Technology)

Supervisor name: Dr. Saima Tehseen (Assistant professor)

Address: Government College Women University, Faisalabad, Pakistan

E-mail address:

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