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How does cornstarch work??? (Read 19684 times)
09/03/03 at 12:44:28
dallas r   Guest

 
Ok, so what is the deal with cornstarch? Why - when it is suppose to thicken, does it sometimes seem to go the opposite way and make stuff runnier? How does cornstarch work?
 
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Reply #1 - 09/06/03 at 01:17:02
Jim   Ex Member

 
Here's the 'skinny' on cornstarch:
1. Cornstarch should be mixed with a cold liquid (like water or stock) prior to adding it to whatever you are going to thicken. If not, the starch will form little, sticky dumplings. Not very tasty.
2. The thickening ability of cornstarch is limited by time and temperature. If you subject your starch-thickened recipe to excessive heat for too long, the starch molecules will break down. Hence, your once thick soup is now broth again. Also, if there is an excessive amount of acid or fat within the item you are trying to thicken it will 'break' and starch molecules will rupture.
3. Basically, cornstarch thickens by having the free starch molecules swell; when they swell, they absorb moisture. Think Baby Powder!
4. Check out Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" for more on the pure science behind cornstarch/arrowroot/flour thickeners.
5. http://www.argocornstarch.com/faq.asp has more about corn starch than you probably care to know.
Hope this helps!
-Jim
 
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Reply #2 - 09/08/03 at 11:54:25
dallas r   Guest

 
Thank you Jim!

  Yes... I think this helps. I will know for sure the next time I try using the stuff, but if it fails,
at least I will be closer to understanding why!
Grin
 
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Reply #3 - 10/12/03 at 13:33:18
Anh   Guest

 
How do starch molecules look like?  They are sugars, right?

Anh
 
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Reply #4 - 07/20/10 at 10:19:04
mike ramsey   Ex Member

 
It probably would work. Cornstarch is a small particle size and highly absorbent.

You could take a small piece of clear glass (like a picture frame glass) and clean it very well. Then put your thumbprint on the glass and sprinkle the cornstarch on it. The cornstarch should stick to the oils left behind by your thumb.
 
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Reply #5 - 07/20/10 at 22:34:52

WannabeChef   Offline
Full Member
MmmmMmm food
Beijing

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Cornstarch is too complicated. Too many ways to ruin it.
Thanks for clearing it up.
 
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Reply #6 - 07/21/10 at 06:54:53
mike ramsey   Ex Member

 
both are thickening agents, with cornstarch being the most INTENSE, thus working when you go to make green slime.
if i'm using flour or cornstarch to thicken something, i may use 1 cup of flour to get the same result that 1 tablespoon of cornstarch will accomplish.
however, i think if you increase your flour amounts for the green slime recipe it still wouldn't work, but just be a big glob of floury goo.
stick with the cornstarch, for this type of deal, that's the way to go.
 
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Reply #7 - 10/28/10 at 12:04:12
angusman   Ex Member

 
Great tips Jim, especially about adding cold liquid. That's where I always messed up when trying to thicken sauces.
 
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