Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Today, we have a guest on the blog, George Erdosh. I met George through this blog, and when I visited his blog, I was quite fascinated by his site and the chemistry involved in "How Foods Work." George and I figures that we had a lot in common, as we both have degrees in Chemistry and Physics. George was a mineral exploration geologist, who somehow wound up in catering.
I thought is might be fun to have guests on the the blog from time to time and George generously agreed and sent me this column to share with my readers. Here, George has laid out a great chart for you to help decide what starch you need to thicken your recipes.
Please be sure to visits George's website How Foods Work
Thanks so much George, we'll look forward to more guest appearances in the future...
Which Starch for Which Job
When a dish needs to be thickened with starch, most cooks grab the standard cornstarch off the shelf. In fact, most recipes call just of that. It is inexpensive and always available. But is it always the best?
Choosing a starch, consider four characteristics:
appearance of the final dish
change of flavor of the dish
amount of thickening power a starch supplies
how stable the starch is on standing
The following table gives you a comparison of the various common starches available to us. You find arrowroot and tapioca in any Asian market, tapioca in any supermarket. (If you only see pearl tapioca on the shelf, make a tapioca starch by pulverizing it in a food processor or in a mortar.) I also included different kinds of flours for comparison.
Comparing Starch Thickeners
We will do a comparison based on the starch, the coloring of the starch before, how viscous the starch is on a scale of 1-3 (1 being the thinnest) , the flavor of the starch, and the final coloring
* Cake flour gives the smoothest, whitest sauce of the three wheat flours.
You may notice the absence of potato starch. Food processors use this inexpensive starch a great deal but it is not easily available for the home cook. Arrowroot has similar thickening power and physical characteristics and you may substitute one for another.
Please visit my blog for other useful kitchen tidbits: www.howfoodswork.blogspot.com