There are quite a few recipes that will make use of flour as a thickener or as a coating but if you’re gluten intolerant because of celiac disease, or just a sensitivity to it, then that is not going to work. If you run into this then you’ll be glad to hear that you can easily substitute cornstarch in place of the flower whenever your recipe includes this ingredient as a thickener or as a coating for your fried foods.
You will want to be aware of the fact that cornstarch can’t replace flour in some baked goods and in that case, you’ll need to use gluten-free flour.
Cornstarch is naturally gluten-free as it is simply made of corn. Even so, there are some brands that aren’t safe for someone on a gluten-free diet and to be sure, it’s best to use gluten-free cornstarch. Here we’ll take a look at substituting flour with cornstarch.
Pie Fillings, Sauces, And Thickening Gravy With Cornstarch
You’ll find the cornstarch works great as a thickener when making gravy or sauces and even for pie fillings. In fact, some prefer it over flour. Another thing is you will usually not be able to taste the cornstarch the way you might taste the flour. The food will come out more translucent. The reason for this is the fact that cornstarch is pure starch whereas flour has protein in it.
When using cornstarch you won’t be able to use it spoon for spoon. In most cases, you’ll use one tablespoon per cup of sauce or gravy to get the thickness to be medium. You can add a little bit more if you want it heavier.
Things You Want To Remember When Using Cornstarch As A Thickener
You only need half the amount of cornstarch that you would use if it’s flour. This means if the recipe says you should use 2 tablespoons of flour then you would only need one of cornstarch. If you need to use a quarter cup of flour than only use 1/8 of a cup of cornstarch. It would be the same if you chose to use other starches such as arrowroot, potato starch, or tapioca.
You usually won’t be able to put the cornstarch directly on because it will clump and be difficult to dissolve. You can avoid this problem by mixing it with some cold water until it’s completely dissolved. You will then pour that into the mix you’re preparing. The water should be cold and you’ll want to keep stirring as it thickens.
High heat can cause lumping and for that reason, you want to cook using medium-low or medium heat. It will also be necessary to stir gently because if you do so vigorously it can break down the mixture. When you add any additional ingredients, remove the pot from the heat and stir them in gently but quickly.
The starch granules will swell to their maximum level when you get your mixture to a full boil for 1 minute. Once it starts to thicken, reduce the heat. If you overcook it the mixture it will thin as it cools.
If you’re making acidic based sauces you’ll find that cornstarch won’t work quite as well as flour. If you’re making a sauce with lemon juice, vinegar, or tomatoes it won’t likely work as well to thicken the sauce. This is equally true when making a sauce with fat like egg yolks or butter.
You’ll need enough liquid in your mixture in order for the starch granules to properly absorb. If you have more sugar than liquid then you’ll need to be aware of this and possibly add more liquid if you want to make sure it’ll be firmer. Gravies and sauces made with cornstarch don’t freeze well. If you try to freeze them they will likely turn spongy.