Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Basic foodstuffs | Cereal | Corn

Cornstarch, sometimes confusingly called "cornflour", is a pure starch made from corn.[1][2] It is not to be confused with cornmeal or corn flour proper.

Production edit

Cornstarch production begins with the soaking of corn kernels to soften them before grinding them to a wet slurry.[3][4] It is then sieved to remove large fibrous particles, then centrifuging it to separate out the pure starch.[4][5] Once separated, the starch is dried to a powder.

Characteristics edit

Like other pure starches, cornstarch is a fine white powder, with somewhat of a squeaky texture when rubbed.[1][6] When mixed into liquid and heated, cornstarch adds a glossy appearance and thickens the liquid, setting it even more once cooled.[1][3][4][7] Compared to wheat flour, cornstarch has twice the thickening power with a less-noticeable flavor,[1][6] making it popular in cooking.[5] However, cornstarch-thickened liquids will thin again if exposed to prolonged heat or stirred too vigorously,[1][6][7] and freezing will cause the mixture to break and weep.[4] To avoid these issues, some professionals will use "waxy" cornstarch, which is both derived from a special variety of corn and modified to be more heat- and cold-stable.[7][8][9][10]

Selection and storage edit

Cornstarch is quite shelf-stable. As long as it is kept segregated from moisture in an airtight container, it will keep on the order of months to years.[6]

Use edit

Like other starches, cornstarch is primarily used for its shortening, thickening, and drying powers. For example, it may be added to baked goods to interfere with gluten formation and tenderize the final product,[2][11] and it can also help retain water in cookies to make them chewy instead of crispy.[12] Cornstarch can also be applied to wet items, drying them off so that batter will stick—this is commonly done for deep-fat frying. It thickens liquids into sauces, makes custards more heat-stable, and stabilizes a variety of fillings.[8][11][13]

To use cornstarch for thickening liquids, as with sauces and custards, the best method is to suspend the starch in a cool liquid before mixing it with a warm-to-hot liquid[6][8]—this prevents undesirable clumping. The mixture is then gently heated up to a brief simmer to activate the thickening process, followed by removal from the heat to prevent subsequent breakdown and thinning.[1][7][8][10]

Note that mixtures thickened with cornstarch will gradually break down and thin over the course of several days, and they should not be vigorously stirred, reheated, or frozen.[1][2][8]

Substitution edit

When a recipe uses cornstarch to thicken liquid or absorb moisture, another starch or a gelling agent such as xanthan gum, pectin, agar, or gelatine can be an effective substitute (though not one-to-one). When a recipe uses cornstarch to make a crisp coating, you can often substitute cornmeal, some variety of flour, or another starch.

Recipes edit

References edit

  1. a b c d e f g Labensky, Sarah R.; Hause, Alan M.; Martel, Priscilla (2018-01-18). On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. Pearson. ISBN 978-0-13-444190-0.
  2. a b c Friberg, Bo (2016-09-13). The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-46629-2.
  3. a b Davidson, Alan (2014-01-01). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  4. a b c d The Chefs of Le Cordon Bleu (2011-12-02). Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking Foundations. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4390-5713-1.
  5. a b Gibson, Mark (2018-01-04). Food Science and the Culinary Arts. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-811817-7.
  6. a b c d e Kipfer, Barbara Ann (2012-04-11). The Culinarian: A Kitchen Desk Reference. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-544-18603-3.
  7. a b c d Gisslen, Wayne (2014-04-15). Professional Cooking. Wiley. ISBN 978-1-118-63672-5.
  8. a b c d e Labensky, Sarah; Martel, Priscilla; Damme, Eddy Van (2015-01-06). On Baking: A Textbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals, Updated Edition. Pearson Education. ISBN 978-0-13-388675-7.
  9. Amendola, Joseph; Rees, Nicole (2003-01-03). Understanding Baking: The Art and Science of Baking. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-44418-3.
  10. a b Figoni, Paula I. (2010-11-09). How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-39267-6.
  11. a b Ruhlman, Michael (2008). The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen. Black Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-86395-143-2.
  12. Potter, Jeff (2010-07-20). Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food. "O'Reilly Media, Inc.". ISBN 978-1-4493-9587-2.
  13. Provost, Joseph J.; Colabroy, Keri L.; Kelly, Brenda S.; Wallert, Mark A. (2016-05-02). The Science of Cooking: Understanding the Biology and Chemistry Behind Food and Cooking. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-67420-8.