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Also known as
Cornstarch, Maize starch
Cornstarch, or corn flour, is the starch of the corn (maize) grain. It is different from maize flour or makkai ka atta. Maize flour is milled from the whole kernel, while cornstarch is obtained from the endosperm portion of the kernel.
Cornstarch is commonly used as a thickening agent in soups and liquids. As the starch is heated by the liquid, the molecule chains unravel, allowing them to collide with other starch chains to form a mesh - thus slowing the movement of water molecules. This results in thickening of the liquid, be it soup, stock or other culinary liquids. White corn flour is used as a filler, binder and thickener in cookie, pastry and meat industries.
How to select
• Select corn flour, which is white and powdery, without any lumps or discoloration.
• While buying corn flour, also watch out for the expiry date.
• In the kitchen, cornstarch can be used as a binder for puddings or similar foods, or as a thickener for sauces, stews, and similar dishes.
• Cornstarch is a bland, gluten-free alternative to flour for frying and for sauces and gravies.
• Use it in cakes, cookies, pies, and a host of other sweet goods as well.
• Many cooks prefer using cornstarch as it imparts no additional flavour to foods.
• A simple pudding can be made with milk, cornstarch, and sugar.
• Always make a paste of cornstarch and cold water before adding to heated foods to prevent lumping.
• Do not overcook as it will begin to break down and thin out.
• Stir continuously but gently. Vigorous whisking will also cause loss of texture.
• When cornstarch paste is added, cook over medium heat and bring to a boil for about one minute. Remove and serve.
• Do not freeze any cooked recipe that contains corn starch.
• Corn flour may be used as a substitute for arrowroot powder in specific recipes.
• It may be used in preparation such as custard, cakes, coating cutlets before frying.
How to store
• If stored in an airtight, dry container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, cornstarch will last for long.
• You may also put it in a plastic bag and refrigerate to improve the shelf life.
• Cornmeal or maize flour versus corn starch is comparable to whole wheat flour versus white flour. Cornmeal includes the whole corn grain (bran, germ, and endosperm) while cornstarch or corn flour is refined (bran and germ removed). Whole grain equals a good source of dietary fibre.
• For heart health (and health overall) it is best to limit refined grains and increase whole grains.