Also known as
cornstarch in UK or maize starch in US and Europe.
Cornstarch, or cornflour, is the starch of the corn (maize) grain. It is different from corn flour or maize flour or makkai ka atta. Corn flour is milled from the whole kernel, while cornstarch is obtained from the endosperm portion of the kernel.
Cornstarch or cornflour 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 cornflour, which is white and powdery, without any lumps or discoloration. While buying cornflour, 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 thickening agent that is the 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 flavor 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 cornstarch.
· Cornflour 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
Keep indefinitely in an airtight container on a dry, dark shelf.You may also put it in a plastic bag and refrigerate to improve the shelf life.
· Cornmeal versus cornstarch is comparable to whole wheat flour versus white flour. Cornmeal includes the whole corn grain (bran, germ, and endosperm) while cornstarch or cornflour is refined (bran and germ removed). Whole grain equals a good source of dietary fiber.
· For heart health (and health overall) it's best to limit refined grains and increase whole grains. Eating corn starch daily is not the best strategy for overall health but can surely be used in moderation for specific recipes.