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Tartaric acid has two asymmetric carbons which permit the formation of a dextro (+) rotatory form, a levo (—) rotatory form, and a meso form which is inactive due to internal compensation. A racemic mixture of dextro- and levo-rotatory forms is also a possibility.

Apart from very limited synthetic production in South Africa, tartaric acid is extracted from the residues of the wine industry. Therefore the natural form, L-( + )tartaric acid, is the article of commerce. The structure in Table 1 is L-( + )tartaric acid.

Potassium acid tartrate, also known as cream of tartar, is the major salt used in the food industry. It is occasionally used as the acid portion of a chemical leavening system for baked goods. It is also used as a doctor in candy making to prevent sugar crystallization by inverting a portion of the sucrose.

Tartaric acid can be used in most food categories and functions that require acidification but in practice it is limited to grape flavored products, particularly beverages and candies. It is also used where high tartness is desired in a highly soluble acid.

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