Cornstarch is a food additive that is used to thicken foods. This product has a lower thickening rate than potato starch. Cornstarch makes food soft and tender. Moreover, it removes the exercise moisture. In most cases, cornstarch is used in confectionery and bakery. It can be used to thicken jams, cook home-made ice cream, make spongecake airy, etc.
In addition to the properties mentioned above, cornstarch has certain health benefits. For example, if you suffer from celiac disease, you can use it instead of flour since cornstarch is gluten-free. However, it is important to consult your Gi specialist before cornstarch use and always monitor your condition.
Despite the mentioned above useful properties of cornstarch, some people should avoid it since it can increase blood glucose levels. Moreover, regular consumption of large amounts of cornstarch tends to increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. You can also replace it with one of these four healthy and vegan substitutes for cornstarch.
Agar (agar-agar) is a vegetarian gelling agent that is derived from red seaweed. Agar is an excellent substitute for cornstarch and gelatin. Agar has been an important ingredient in Japanese cuisine for centuries. It is often used to make desserts, the consistency of which resembles jelly. Agar is available in the form of flakes, powder, or slabs.
You can mix agar with water and boil this mixture until the flakes dissolve. This usually took four to 10 minutes. In most cases, time is determined by how hot your stove is and how quickly you can boil liquids on it. If you will practice a few times, you will easily determine the exact dissolution time of all flakes.
The final product looks like corn or maple syrup. Remove it from the stove, pour it into a gelatinous mold, and after 30 minutes you will get a jelly. If you forget the ratio of liquid to agar, read the instructions on the agar package. Agar is available in Asian markets and in foreign goods departments at health food stores.
Arrowroot is derived from the roots of a tropical plant and has been cultivated for more than 7,000 years. You can use arrowroot as a thickener in sauces or add it to baked goods along with gluten-free flours (like buckwheat flour) to bind it. If you add arrowroot to pancakes or cookies, it creates a texture that is similar to that of wheat flour. Its texture is a little siliceous, but not as much as that of rice flour. Many cooks use arrowroot as a substitute for flour or cornstarch.
Sauces with arrowroot are similar to sauces that contain cornstarch as a thickener. Unlike cornstarch that makes the liquid cloudy, arrowroot makes liquid clear as the mixture thickens. However, arrowroot is not really effective as a thickener for pie fillings. It is better to remove the arrowroot mixture from the heat after 10-12 minutes, rather than letting it simmer for half an hour.
When you are going to replace cornstarch with arrowroot, use one tablespoon of arrowroot as a substitute for two teaspoons of cornstarch. When you use arrowroot, the end product can be half as thick as the cornstarch with water. If you need a thick pudding consistency, use more arrowroot or other cornstarch substitutes. You can buy arrowroot at natural food stores.
3. Tapioca flour
Tapioca is a traditional ingredient in Brazilian foods derived from the roots of the South American cassava tree. Tapioca is available in granules, flakes, dragees, and flour. In the United States, it tended to be the main thickener in puddings for decades until it was replaced by other ingredients.
Tapioca thickens water as effectively as cornstarch, but the consistency of the final product is a bit thinner. However, tapioca is much more effective in sauces than arrowroot. Use twice as much tapioca as indicated in the recipe for cornstarch.
Tapioca flour is great as a binder in gluten-free bread, pancakes, and cookies. Use at least half a cup of tapioca flour for every cup of gluten-free flour. Tapioca flour is available at organic food stores and in the baking sections of some grocery stores.
4. Potato starch
Potato starch is made from boiled, dried, and shredded potatoes. It can be used as a thickener for hot liquids and as a binder in gluten-free bread or biscuits. Moreover, potato starch can be used as a substitute for wheat flour and used as a thickener in gravies, sauces, or soups. However, the boiling liquid can suddenly bubble up and turn into a jelly-like mass. That’s why it is better to use half the potato starch in your gravy or sauce as indicated in the recipe for cornstarch. Potato starch can create a great texture when used as a binder in baked products made from gluten-free flours such as rice flour, buckwheat, or millet. Use half the amount of potato starch indicated in the flour recipe. Potato starch is available in natural food stores and markets.