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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. Substitute 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 refrigerate.
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 liquids.

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 tapioca 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 root stalks 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 cool.

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°-200°C (360-400°F).

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.