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From The Allergy Self-Help Cook Book by Marjorie Hurt Jones R.N.
Flavour and Colour
Snow white. Flavourless.

Browns quickly and well. Produces golden crispy coating.

Excellent. Substiture for equal amount of cornstarch. Leftovers may need 
to be rethickened.

Substitute for 25-50% total flour. Will lighten baked goods.

Silky powder, much like cornstarch. Store tightly in sealed jar and

arrowroot thread

Carol Dunlap (cdunlap/ posted on 25 Nov 95:

Hi there. I've been reading several low-fat cooking recipes that call for
arrowroot. Graham Kerr says its superior to other thickeners, such as corn
starch. Can someone tell me about it, how it differs, etc. I'm not such a
tightwad that I wouldn't buy it, I'm just curious to hear more about it.  
It looks like such a little bottle of powder for the $5 price tag.

Len S (elm/ posted on 27 Nov 95:

     In his book "Minimax Cookbook", Kerr says that both arrowroot and
cornstarch are pure starches. He prefers them to flour for thickening
     He recommends arrowroot for dark hot sauces because of its
clarity and its lack of taste that might mask the food flavor.
Arrowroot is good, too, he says, for giving pasta a glaze when he
wants the pasta to have the look of oil on it.
     Arrowroot, however, has a drawback in that when it cools,
especially in contact with dairy foods, it develops an unusually
slippery feel. So for foods containing dairy products or crispy cooked
vegetables, he prefers cornstarch.
     Cornstarch, he continues, does cause a slightly misty film that
dulls the light reflection, but since this happens anyway in dairy
sauces and lighter colored casseroles that contain beans, it's not a
real loss.
     Another difference, according to Kerr, is that cornstarch
requires thirty seconds at the boil to remove its starchy taste, while
arrowroot clears in very hot liquid without the need to boil it.

H Whitney Turner (a005518t) posted on 3 Dec 1995:

Go to a good natural foods store (this is the only reason I go) and you
will find bagged arrowroot for a *small* fraction of the cost. I use it
anywhere I have to thicken, and it's great. I had to use cornstarch the
other night.....didn't work!  I guess I'm spoiled.....

Don Wiss posted:

So I checked at my local stores to see how big the difference is. At the
health food store that bags its own bulk, it was $4.80/lb ($2.39 for 8
oz, smaller sizes also available). At the Food Emporium (a higher
grade A&P) it was unit priced at $33.28/lb ($3.89 for a little jar).
That is a difference of *seven* times! Contamination with other things
packaged could be a problem.

arrowroot, what is it?

Richard J. Byrne (rbyrne/ posted on 21 Jun 1996:

Then again, the cheaper stuff may not actually be arrowroot starch,
but tapioca starch! Sometimes one is sold as the other, although the
arrowroot starch is more difficult to process, thus resulting in a
higher cost. For a extensive discussion of the difference, point your
web browser to:

(I know all this is probably a tempest in a teapot, but I find it
interesting to see how a seemingly "simple" question can lead to some
interesting discussion and hopefully more understanding!)

Grayjackl/ posted on 24 Jun 1996:

I get it mailorder for $5.80 a pound. I prefer it to cornstarch. I've
found it is not only lighter, easier to use and less likely to add flavor,
but it seems to work better in homemade 'frozen dinners' -- we often make
enough for four or six servings and freeze the leftover in individual
servings for quick meals.

Lu Bozinovich (U33754/ posted on 20 Jun 1996:

I think arrowroot won't thicken if you are using honey in the
mix. Cornstarch seems to work all the time. I think another
time I've seen arrowroot breakdown is when you have to cook it
for a long time or subject the sauce to heavy beating. Fuzzy
memory -- but I use arrowroot over cornstarch and am branching
out to potato starch even. Cornstarch was always too starchy
tasting to me.

There's also kuzu BTW (kudzu?) -- but I refuse to pay $$$ for
something that grows rampantly in the deep south. All kuzu is
from Japan.

Edward Conroy (p008383b/ posted on 24 Jun 1996:

While the purposes are the same, there are some differences between the  
the finished product when using arrowroot v cornstarch.

Arrowroot slurries and cornstarch slurries are both used to thicken 
sauces and gravies. They both yield a clear, glossy sauce which gives a 
"mouth feel" and appearance similar to a sauce containing quantities of 
butter, without the calories, cholesterol, and saturated fat problems 
associated with butter.

They both require much less time than a flour-thickened sauce. They are 
both used as slurries, stirred into the hot liquid *off heat!*. The 
arrowroot slurry is merely stirred into the liquid for 30 seconds to a 
minute and it's ready.  

The cornstarch slurry is stirred into the liquid; the mixture is returned 
to the heat and heated to a simmer, stirring constantly until the sauce 
thickens and clears (it will be opaque at first). 

According to Graham Kerr, there is one significant difference between the 
two -- Arrowroot should *never* be used with milk-based liquids. He 
claims that it just doesn't work; the finished product does not have a 
satisfactory mouth-feel.

I have used both, and where a non-milk based liquid is used, I prefer 
arrowroot to cornstarch.

BTW, a cornstarch thickened sauce will become thin again (there's a 
technical term for what happens --something concerning the release of 
water-- but I don't recall what it is called).


It might depend upon how much cornstarch was used in the slurry. As 
you probably know, cornstarch-thickened sauces (such as those used in the 
typical Chinese restaurant to accompany egg foo yung) will become a 
rather thick jelly when refrigerated.  However, when re-heated, the sauce 
will typically be much thinner than it was when freshly prepared, and may 
even require re-thickening with another CS slurry.

Arrowroot thickened sauce, on the other hand, freeze well in such 
preparations as chicken pies, and do not re-hydrolize (the word just 
popped out of my sub-conscious) when the pies are reheated. I have also 
used it for thickening chicken ala king, which I have then frozen and 
re-heated without any problems.

I suspect that --in both cases-- the concentration of the arrowroot or 
cornstarch in the original slurry may have some effect.

BTW, I have also used raw rice or raw tapioca, first reduced to a 
powder-like consistency in an electric spice grinder as thickening 
agents (mixed in a water slurry) or mixed with the fruit or contents of 
both sweet and savory pies.

J.A. Fielden (fielden/rintintin.Colorado.EDU) posted on 25 Jun 1996:

I just noticed that in the current Williams Sonoma catalog tapicoa starch
is recommended over cornstarch as being the preferred thickener for fruit
pies. Doesn't dull the color or add a starchy taste according to them.

Re: Arrowroot
The dominant advantage attributed to arrowroot is claimed to be
greater acid-stability than that displayed by cornstarch.

I have read in cookbooks that cornstarch shows some breakdown in
seriously tart pies and such and arrowroot does not. I don't know any
more about it than that and I don't know what the chemistry might be,
if the claim is indeed true. I'm somewhat sceptical, since starches
are not all that easy to hydrolyze.

Posted by Shankar Bhattacharyya to on 3 Jul 1996.

Arrowroot from Epicurious
Arrowroot: The starchy product of a tropical tuber of the same name. The
rootstalks are dried and ground into a very fine powder. Arrowroot is used 
as a thickening agent for puddings, sauces and other cooked foods, and is 
more easily digested than wheat flour. Its thickening power is about twice 
that of wheat flour. Arrowroot is absolutely tasteless and becomes clear 
when cooked. Unlike cornstarch, it doesn't impart a chalky taste when 
undercooked. It should be mixed with a cold liquid before being heated or 
added to hot mixtures. Some English and early American cookie recipes call 
for arrowroot flour, which is the same product. (Epicurious)

Poke (Cook Island Dessert)
2 1/4 lb Banana
    2 tb Sugar, granulated
    1 c  Milk, whole
    2 c  Water
    1 c  Arrowroot
    1    Coconut
  Peel and break up bananas. Put into pot, add water
and boil until a purplish colour. Take off heat and
  Pour mixture into a big bowl and when cold mash and
add arrowroot, sugar and milk. Butter a baking dish
and pour in mixture to bake at 180-200C (360-400F).
  Coconut juice: Grate coconut and add 3/4 cup hot
water and strain - extracting the milk. Take the baked
mixture and cut into medium sized squares. Pour on
juice to soak into the poke.

Source: The Maori Cookbook, From The Cookie Lady's Files. 
Posted on GEnie's Food & Wine RT by COOKIE-LADY [Cookie] on 9/10/93
Reposted by DonW1948/ to on 1995/06/20.

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