November 25, 2022

Cornstarch placed over a counter with a wooden spoon.
Pawarun Chitchirachan/

Your pantry might be lined with all of the important baking staples— however past flour, sugar, and baking soda, there’s one distinctive ingredient many people have however don’t typically use: cornstarch.

That powdered thickening agent works like magic when you might have a soup or gravy to thicken, however what precisely is cornstarch, and why does it work so properly?

What Is Cornstarch?

A container of Rumford cornstarch.
Miro Vrlik Photography

Cornstarch is a powdered ingredient that was developed within the ’80s and is principally produced in nations that develop corn, like america, India, China, and Brazil. It lasts ceaselessly and gained’t lose high quality if saved appropriately, out of the sunshine, and in an air-tight container.

Scientifically talking, cornstarch is a carbohydrate pulled from the endosperm of corn. It’s comprised of starch molecules, which swell when in touch with warmth and moisture, inflicting the outcomes to gelatinize. That gelatinization turns out to be useful for varied recipes that must be thickened.

Culinarily talking, cornstarch might be useful for a lot of cooking functions. It’s most frequently used to help thicken rich gravy for mashed potatoes, soups, and sauces. Nonetheless, it’s also a preferred ingredient in fruit pies and is commonly utilized by cake decorators for fondant work.

What’s the Distinction Between Cornstarch, Corn Flour, and Cornmeal?

One bowl of corn flour and one bowl of cornstarch.

Cornstarch is also known as cornflour, and though each are powder and each are created from corn, nutritionally, they differ vastly.

Corn flour is created from entire corn kernels, whereas cornstarch is created from solely the starchy a part of the corn known as the endosperm. As a result of the complete corn kernel is floor as much as make corn flour, the pale yellow powder accommodates vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, in response to Healthline. Cornstarch, alternatively, is a way more refined product, producing a white powder with no protein or fiber.

When evaluating style, cornflour presents an earthy pure corn taste, nice for baking loaves of bread and contemporary biscuits, whereas cornstarch doesn’t style like something.

Cornmeal is made by grinding entire corn kernels, similar to cornflour, solely coarser. The diploma of milling will decide the ultimate product, so in case you proceed grinding cornmeal right into a high quality powder, the outcomes will change into cornflour. Cornmeal is used to line the underside of pizza and bagels and is the primary ingredient in cornbread.

Though cornstarch is flavorless and doesn’t provide any dietary worth, the ingredient does convey nice worth when used within the kitchen.

From cooking up a tasty beef and broccoli dinner for the household to baking pretty fruit pies, cornstarch makes an amazing addition to your pantry.

The best way to Use Cornstarch for Cooking

A plate of beef and broccoli that has been thickened by cornstarch.
Brent Hofacker/

Cornstarch can be utilized in lots of cooking purposes, however the obvious is for thickening functions. Cooks will generally make a cornstarch slurry by mixing water and cornstarch to create a thick white liquid.

The slurry is then added to soups or sauces and helps thicken the meal fairly quickly. Including powdered cornstarch on to the soup will undoubtedly trigger lumps, so don’t skip the slurry. Whereas many flip to butter and flour to create a roux for thickening purposes, a cornstarch slurry differs vastly.

Other than components, one important distinction is that roux is cooked first, then the liquid is added slowly. The extra liquid you whisk in, the thinner your sauce or soup will change into. A cornstarch slurry is often added on the finish to assist thicken your meal. So, in case you’re making chowder and it’s too skinny, add a small quantity of slurry and watch because it turns into thicker.

Cornstarch can also be utilized in a traditional Chinese technique called velveting, which mixes egg white, rice wine, and cornstarch to create a marinade for meat earlier than it’s stir-fried. The tactic helps lock within the moisture and produces juicy and tender outcomes. Recipes like beef and broccoli additionally use cornstarch to assist thicken sauces for restaurant-worthy outcomes.

You’ll additionally discover the ingredient is in style in fruit pies. The semi-transparent outcomes and flourless style give cornstarch a bonus in desserts like blueberry and apple pie. Lastly, cornstarch is a superb ingredient in cake adorning if it’s worthwhile to powder surfaces whereas working with fondant that could be slightly sticky.

Subsequent time it’s worthwhile to thicken a sauce, otherwise you’re within the temper for a spicy stir-fried dinner, seize that yellow container of cornstarch and get to cooking!

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