Cornstarch is the common thickening agent in most traditional cooking, but for those folks who want to thicken sauces, gravies, jams, soups and create flaky, moist baked goods without the use of this common (often genetically modified) allergen, arrowroot is the answer. If you add arrowroot directly to the liquid you want to thicken, however, it will clump up. So making a slurry before adding to your recipe, is the foolproof way to create thick and creamy goodies. Arrowroot also makes clear (unlike cornstarch), shimmering fruit gels without gelatin and prevents ice crystals from forming in homemade ice cream.
Arrowroot, also known as “the obedience plant,” is a large perennial plant found in rainforest habitats. Arrowroot starch can be mixed with potato starch and other similar substances by some manufacturers, so be selective when buying. Pure arrowroot is gluten-free, and like other pure starches, is a light, white powder—feeling like the crackling of newly fallen snow when rubbed or pressed. Arrowroot thickens at a lower temperature than flour or cornstarch, is not weakened by acidic ingredients, has a more neutral taste, and is not affected by freezing.
To create a slurry, you will want to mix equal parts arrowroot powder…
… with cool water until dissolved.
Then add slurry to warm, or simmering liquid with a whisk. As soon as sauce thickens (about 30 seconds to 1 minute), remove from heat—overheating will break down arrowroot’s thickening properties.
A slurry made from 1 tsp arrowroot powder and 2 tsp pure water whisked into about 2 cups of warm liquid creates a gravy consistency. About 1/4 cup of arrowroot mixed with a 1/4 cup water and then whisked into 2 cups of warm liquid will make a gooey, super-thick caramel sauce consistency perfect for a candy bar. Obviously, more arrowroot makes it thicker, so start with less and add more slurry as needed to achieve the perfect thickness. Arrowroot does thicken a bit more as it cools, so keep this in mind. If you “over-arrowroot” and your mixture becomes too thick, you can warm your mixture and add more liquid, stirring constantly until you achieve your desired consistency.
Now, go have fun with arrowroot!
Try arrowroot in this Purple Kale & Mung Bean Noodles with Creamy Onion Miso Sauce recipe,
in this Candy Bar recipe (for gooey caramel),
or for this Easy & Amazing Gravy recipe.
Psst: I know most of YU aren’t dairy fans, but don’t use arrowroot with dairy, unless you want a slimy consistency. Eek.
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