Cornstarch is a fine, powdery starchthat is made out of corn. The cornstarch is actually made from the endosperm ofthe corn, which makes up most of the kernels that we eat when enjoying popcornor corn on the cob. Cornstarch, also sometimes called cornflour (or “cornflour”), is produced by grinding, washing and drying the endosperm of the corn– the part between the outer husk and the inner seed - until it reaches thatfine, powdery state. Cornstarch is gluten free.
How to Use Cornstarch
Cornstarch has many culinary uses, but it is mostoften used as a thickener for sauces, gravies and fruit pie fillings.Cornstarch thickens very quickly and easily, and forms a clear sauce aftercooking, rather than an opaque one. It has roughly twice the thickening power of flour, and while it isflavorless after cooking, it does need to be cooked for a short period toremove any starchy flavor from the starch, as well as to give the mixture it isused in a chance to thicken.
Unlike flour, cornstarch will clump up if addeddirectly to hot liquids and must be mixed with a small amount of color liquidbefore being incorporated into something hot, such as a gravy or a pudding.It if is added to a cold mixture, it does not need to be prepared in any waybefore cooking and will dissolve as the mixture heats up. If cooked for anextended period of time, or whisked too vigorously, a mixture thickened withcornstarch can break. Arrowroot and tapioca are both good substitutesfor cornstarch when it comes to thickening power.
Cornstarch is also included in many baked goodrecipes, and is often used in conjunction with flour. Since it is gluten free,cornstarch can help add some structure to a baked good while increasing itstenderness. It appears very often in shortbreadrecipes, where bakers are looking for a very crumbly and tendertexture in the finished product. Another common way of using it is adding asmall amount of it to all purpose flour to make a substitutefor cake flour. You will also often see it included in batters,where it helps contribute to a light crust after frying.