Not all thickening agents are created equal. Obviously flour is a no-no for anyone on a gluten-free diet, and most of the corn grown in the United States is genetically modified, making the use of cornstarch a murky landscape. When prioritizing healthy, mindful cooking, we recommend turning to arrowroot powder as your go-to thickening agent.
Arrowroot originates from the Maranta arundinacea plant, native to the tropics of South America. It is an easily digested starch that is sold as a fine white powder used both for baking and thickening soups, stews and dessert sauces. Both corn and gluten-free, arrowroot makes an excellent alternative to cornstarch or a roux.
When cooking with arrowroot, substitute 1 teaspoon of it for ½ tablespoon of cornstarch or 1 tablespoon of flour. Mix with an equal amount of cold water, then whisk the slurry into your liquid.
Arrowroot can be overheated easily, which destroys its thickening ability. Cook lightly and add during the final stages of cooking for best results. Conveniently, it requires little time to eliminate its starchy flavor.
Arrowroot tolerates acidic ingredients and freezes well, but it doesn’t play nicely with dairy. Note that it also imparts a shiny gloss to food, which lends itself beautifully to puddings and dessert sauces (but not necessarily meat sauces).
How do you use arrowroot? Share with us in the comments below!