The 11 best substitutes for cornstarch

Cornstarch is widely used in cooking and cooking.

It is a pure starch powder that is extracted from the corn kernels by removing all of its outer bran and germ, leaving behind the endosperm rich in starch.

In the kitchen, it has a range of uses. When the starch is heated, it is very good to absorb the water. Therefore, it is most often used as a thickener for stews, soups and sauces.

Adding the cornstarch to the sauce

It is also often favored by those with celiac disease, since it is derived from corn (not wheat), so it is gluten-free.

However, cornstarch is not the only ingredient that can be used as a thickener. This article explores the ingredients you can use instead.

1. Wheat Flour

Wheat flour is made by grinding the wheat into a fine powder.

Unlike cornstarch, wheat flour contains protein and fiber, in addition to starch. This means that it is possible to change the cornstarch for flour, but you will need more to obtain the same effect.

In general, it is recommended that you use twice as much white flour as cornstarch to thicken. So, if you need 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, use 2 tablespoons of white flour.

The brown and whole grain flour contains more fiber than white flour, so although it is possible to try to thicken with these flours, you probably need many more to get the same result.

To thicken the recipes with wheat flour, mix with a little cold water first to form a paste. This will prevent them from sticking and forming groups when you add them to recipes.

If you are using wheat flour as a substitute for cornstarch, remember that it is not gluten free, so it is not suitable for people with celiac disease.

Summary: Wheat flour is a quick and easy substitution for cornstarch. For best results, it is recommended that you use twice as much flour as you would with cornstarch.

2. Arrowroot

Arrowroot is a starch flour made from the roots of the Maranta Plant genus, found in the tropics.

To do arrowroot, the roots of the plants are dried and then ground to a fine powder, which can be used as a thickener in cooking.

Some people prefer the arrow root to the cornstarch because it contains more fiber (1, 2).

A transparent gel is also formed when mixed with water, making it ideal for thickening clear liquids (3).

It is recommended to use twice as much arrowroot as corn starch to obtain similar results. Arrowroot does not contain gluten either, so it is suitable for people who do not eat gluten.

Summary: Reef meal is a gluten-free substitute for cornstarch. You should use twice as many arrow arrows as you would with cornstarch.

3. Potato Starch

Potato starch is another substitute for cornstarch. It is made by mashing potatoes to release their starch content and then drying them in powder.

Like arrowroot, it is not a grain, so it does not contain gluten. However, it is a refined starch, which means that it is high in carbohydrates and contains very little fat or protein.

Like other tubers and root starches, potato starch has a fairly mild flavor, so it will not add any unwanted flavor to your recipes.

You should substitute potato starch for corn starch in a ratio of 1: 1. This means that if your recipe needs 1 tablespoon of corn starch, replace it with 1 tablespoon of potato starch.

It is also worth noting that many chefs recommend adding root starches or tubers such as potatoes or arrowrobes later in the cooking process.

This is because they absorb water and thicken much faster than grain-based starches. Heating them too long will completely decompose them, which will cause them to lose their thickening properties.

Summary: Potato starch is an excellent substitute for cornstarch because it tastes mild and contains no gluten.

4. Tapioca

Tapioca is a processed starch product extracted from cassava, a root vegetable found throughout South America.

It is made by grinding cassava roots in a pulp and filtering its liquid rich in starch, which is then dried in tapioca flour.

However, some cassava plants contain cyanide, so cassava must first be treated to ensure it is safe (4).

Tapioca can be purchased as flour, pearls or flakes, and is also gluten-free.

Most chefs recommend replacing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour.

Summary: Tapioca is a processed starch flour made from vegetable root yucca. You should substitute about 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour for each tablespoon of cornstarch.

5. Rice Flour

Rice flour is a powder made from finely ground rice. It is often used in Asian cultures as an ingredient in desserts, rice noodles or soups.

Naturally gluten-free, it is also popular among those who have celiac disease as a substitute for regular wheat flour.

Rice flour can also act as a thickener in recipes, making it an effective substitute for cornstarch.

In addition, it is colorless when mixed with water, so it can be especially useful for thickening clear liquids.

Like wheat flour, it is recommended that you use twice as much rice flour as corn flour to obtain the same result.

It can be used with hot or cold water to make a paste, or in a roux, which is a mixture of flour and fat.

Summary: Rice flour is colorless when added to a recipe, so it can be useful to thicken clear liquids. Use twice the amount of rice flour to obtain the same result.

6. ground flax seeds

The ground flax seeds are very absorbent and form a gelatin when mixed with water.

However, the consistency of flax can be a bit gritty, unlike cornstarch, which is soft.

That said, flax seeds are a great source of soluble fiber, so using ground flax seed instead of flour can increase the fiber content of your dish (5).

If you thicken a dish, you can try replacing the cornstarch by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 4 tablespoons of water. This should replace about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

Summary: You can mix ground flax seeds with water and replace them with cornstarch. However, it can have a gritty texture and will not provide the same smooth finish.

7. Glucomannan

Glucomannan is a soluble fiber powder derived from the roots of the Konjac plant.

It is very absorbent and forms a thick, colorless and odorless gel when mixed with hot water.

Because glucomannan is pure fiber, it does not contain calories or carbohydrates, so it is a popular substitute for cornstarch for people on a low carb diet.

It is also a probiotic, which means that it feeds good bacteria from your large intestine and can help you maintain a healthy bowel (6).

In addition, a recent review found that consuming 3 grams of glucomannan per day could reduce your "bad" LDL cholesterol by up to 10% (7).

However, it is unlikely that you will consume as much when you use it as a thickener. This is because its thickening power is much stronger than corn starch, so it is used much less

Most people use about a quarter teaspoon of glucomannan for every 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.

It thickens at fairly low temperatures, so mix it with a little cold water before pouring it into your food to prevent it from clumping when you touch hot liquid.

Summary: Glucomannan is a soluble dietary fiber that thickens when heated with water. It does not contain carbohydrates or calories, so it is a popular choice for people on a low carb diet.

8. Psyllium husk

Psyllium husk is another soluble fiber of plant origin that can be used as a thickening agent.

Like glucomannan, it is rich in soluble fiber and contains very few carbohydrates.

You will also need only a small amount to thicken the recipes, so start with half a teaspoon and increase the amount.

Summary: Psyllium husk is another type of soluble fiber of vegetable origin. Try using small amounts instead of corn starch for thickening.

9. Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a vegetable gum that is made by fermenting sugar with a bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris (8)

This produces a gel, which is then dried and turned into a powder that you can use in your kitchen. Very small amounts of xanthan gum can thicken a liquid in a large amount (9).

It is worth noting that it can cause digestive problems in some people when it is consumed in large quantities (10).

However, it is unlikely that you will consume much when you use it as a thickener.

It is recommended to use a small amount of xanthan gum and add it slowly. You must be careful not to use too much, or the liquid may become a little viscous.

Summary: You can change the cornstarch for the same amount of xanthan gum that thickener in your kitchen.

10. Guar Gum

Guar gum is also a vegetable gum. It is made from a type of legume called guar bean.

The outer husks of the beans are removed and the starchy central endosperm is collected, dried and ground to a powder.

It is low in calories and high in soluble fiber, making it a good thickener (11, 12).

Some people prefer to use guar gum on xanthan gum, since it is usually much cheaper.

However, like xanthan gum, guar gum is a strong thickener. Start with a small amount, about a quarter teaspoon, and slowly increase until you get the consistency you want.

Summary: Guar gum is low in calories and high in soluble fiber. It has good thickening properties, so start with a small amount and accumulate.

11. Other thickening techniques

Several other techniques can also help you thicken your recipes.

These include:

  • Simmer: Cooking your food at a lower heat for a longer time will help evaporate some of the liquid, resulting in a thicker sauce.

  • Mixed vegetables: Mashed leftover vegetables can make a tomato-based sauce thicker and add more nutrients.

  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt: Adding these ingredients to a sauce can help make it creamier and thicker.

Summary: Several other techniques can help thicken the sauce, including simmering, adding some mixed vegetables and using sour cream or Greek yogurt.

The bottom line

When it comes to thickening sauces, stews and soups, there are many alternatives to corn starch.

In addition, many of these thickeners have different nutritional properties than corn starch and can adapt to various dietary preferences.

If you are looking to add a little extra fiber to your recipes, are following a low carb diet or simply run out of corn starch, there are certainly alternative thickeners to consider.

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