More and more people are swapping starches for flour in their recipes. If this is something that you have thought about doing then read on to find out more about cornstarch and its uses.
Cornstarch is one of the most versatile starches that there is. Extracted from the starchy endosperm of corn, its white powdery substance is virtually flavorless. It’s a nice ingredient for thickening puddings, soups, pie fillings, and many baked goods recipes. When added to cake, cookie, and shortbread recipes, cornstarch helps create a crumbly and tender texture.
Commercially, cornstarch is often used as an anti-caking agent. When added to packaged goods like shredded cheese, cornstarch coats the cheese and helps to absorb moisture that would otherwise cause spoiling. The absorption process also helps prevent food from clumping over time. Additionally, it is used when making sugars, such as corn syrup.
When cooking with cornstarch, it is best to mix this ingredient into a recipe that is at room temperature. When cornstarch is added to too hot of a mixture, the heat can cause unwanted clumping. Before adding any starch to a recipe, it’s recommended first to make a slurry. To make a slurry, simply mix cornstarch with a cold liquid such as water. This mixture will create a paste-like substance, that you can then add to the desired recipe. Using this slurry method will ensure that the cornstarch is evenly distributed throughout the recipe and not broken down by the heat. It is not recommended to freeze sauce and soups that include cornstarch. Freeing cornstarch can cause the molecules in the starch to break down, and once thawed, the liquid will not hold the same texture as before.
Cornstarch is often used as a thickening agent when added to soups, stews, and gravies. Denser than flour, less cornstarch is needed to thicken a liquid to the desired consistency.
When cornstarch is added to a recipe, the starch molecules work to absorb water and thicken the mixture. When heated, those molecules swell and consume even more of the liquid in the recipe. Upon thoroughly cooking, the starch in the mix will have expanded size to ten times its size. Once the mixture cools, these same molecules will set. The setting of these molecules can help further solidify the dough, which makes cornstarch a great thickening agent for gooey fillings like pies and pudding. However, this molecule expansion is limited. While a cornstarch enriched recipe can be brought close to boil, it should never be fully boiled. When cornstarch is exposed to too high of temperatures, the starch molecules will begin to deflate, and the mixture will return to its runny state.
For Baked Goods:
Cornstarch not only acts as a thickening agent, but it can also be used in baked goods like cookies, brownies, and cakes. If you’re looking for more structure in your favorite dessert recipe, then you may want to try using cornstarch. Combining cornstarch with other flours can help soften the rigid proteins of the flour, resulting in a light and chewy dessert. Similar to when adding cornstarch to a soup or pudding, if adding cornstarch to a dessert batter, it should first be turned into a slurry. This will ensure that all of the molecules remain intact and that the starch is evenly distributed. Upon adding cornstarch to your baked goods, evaluate it as you would a soup. Has your batter reached the desired consistency? If not, then a bit more cornstarch may be needed. Once your dough looks perfect, bake your dessert like usual. The result should be light, fluffy, and delicious desserts.
Have you ever wondered why your powder sugar ingredients include cornstarch? Cornstarch acts as an anti-caking agent. By keeping moisture and condensation from reaching whatever it is mixed with. It helps to prevent lumps in finely ground foods like sugar. Cornstarch isn’t just used to ward off moisture from sugar. The next time you’re in the grocery store take a look at how many products list cornstarch as an ingredient. From gravy granules to shredded cheese, you might be surprised by the wide variety of foods that cornstarch is added to.
Frying With Cornstarch:
Cornstarch can also be used as a coating for fried foods. While cornstarch shouldn’t be used as a substitute for flour in baked goods, you can very easily substitute it in for flours when coating fried chicken, fish, or other items you’re frying. Not only will cornstarch work in the same way that flours do, but it will hold up better against sauces and absorb less of the frying oil. Less oil means less fat in your meal.
When frying food with cornstarch, I recommend that you coat the items lightly. Applying a light even coat to your food will ensure that it results in a crispy texture. When too much cornstarch is added, the coating often turns out gummy rather than crunchy. For the perfect, gluten-free fried food, consider blending cornstarch with a gluten-free flour like almond flour. This will help create a more breaded result, similar to wheat flour.
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved
Most recipes have been perfected for use at seal level. At higher altitudes, adjustments in the cooking time, temperature, and ingredients could be necessary.
At sea level, water boils at 212 degrees. With each additional 500 feet of altitude, the boiling point drops 1 degree. Even though the boiling point is lower, it takes longer to generate the heat required to cook food. Therefore, at high altitudes, foods boiled in water (such as pasta and beans) will take longer to come to a boil and will require longer cooking times than recipes suggest. The processing times for canning foods and the blanching times for freezing vegetables will vary, too.
At high altitudes, cake recipes may need slight adjustments in the proportions of flour, leavening, liquid, eggs, etc. These adjustments will vary from recipe to recipe, and not set guidelines can be given. Many cake mixes now carry special directions on the label for high-altitude preparation.
High altitudes can also affect the rising of doughs and batters, deep-frying, candy making, and other aspects of food preparation. For complete information and special recipes for your area, call or write to the home agent at your county cooperative extension office or to the home economics department of your local utility company or state university.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved
The Secret Ingredient For Ridiculously Crispy Chicken
For years I experimented with ways to make chicken extra crispy until one day a chef friend and I were discussing this issue. He told me that the trick is to use baking powder on “skin-on” poultry. I was a bit surprised and put it to the test myself. Holy smokes it does work!
Apparently, baking powder raises the skin’s pH levels, which will allow proteins to break down, giving you a crispier and more evenly browned outcome. Combining with poultry’s natural juices, it forms carbon dioxide gas that creates a layer of small bubbles. These bubbles will increase the skin’s surface area, which allows it to develop a crunchy texture once cooked.
It’s so simple. All you need to do is mix together 1 part baking powder to 3 parts kosher salt (for example 1 tablespoon baking powder & 3 tablespoons kosher salt – of course it all depends on what size poultry you’re cooking). Evenly sprinkle over the skin’s surface and then place in the refrigerator, uncovered, between 12 to 24 hours. Without rinsing cook it any way you want to (roast, grill, fry). It’s really that easy. You just need a bit of planning, but it’s worth it.
You can use it on chicken, turkey, duck, game hens, or goose. Thanksgiving is coming up so you may want to give it a try on your Thanksgiving turkey.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2016 All Rights Reserved
Bacon is salted, dried, cured or smoked meat from the back or sides of a pig. The term is derived from the Germanic bache/backe “back meat,” though at first the word referred to any part of a pig. Flitch (or slab bacon) designates a whole chunk of bacon before it is cut into slices. Burned bacon can be dangerous because burning it will produce carcinogens.
If you’re not doing it already then I have 3 words for you…BAKE YOUR BACON! Frying is the traditional way to cook bacon, but as we all know the high heat can make the bacon fat splatter all over the place. Baking applies lower heat, reducing splattering and shrinkage. It is also the best way to cook large amounts of bacon. Arrange the bacon slices side by side on a large, parchment paper lined, baking sheet. It’s a good idea if the baking sheet has a large rim on it. Bake in a preheated oven at 400º F for about 20 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and browned. Cooking food in the oven at this temperature is actually roasting, but there are times when the terms roasting and baking can be used interchangeably. Remove the rendered fat as it accumulates with a bulb baster, if necessary. When done it’s a good idea to transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
Generally bacon is about 50% fat. As it cooks, the fat becomes liquid and separates from the meat. This process is called rendering. The rendered fat can be put in a tightly covered container and stored in the fridge or freezer for sautéing or frying other foods.
Purchasing the leanest bacon can be counterproductive, as the fat gives the bacon most of its desirable flavor and crispness. Most of the extra fat melts off during cooking. The fat on bacon should be about 1/2 to 1/3 of the total weight. If you buy bacon from a butcher, you can ask for the rind to be removed and for the bacon to be sliced. A whole slab stays fresher longer. A butcher-cut slab can be stored for two weeks in the fridge or two months in the freezer. The freezing does create ice crystals which causes the bacon to splatter when fried stovetop.
Did you know that bacon can be frozen for up to 4 weeks? The curing process affects the stability of the fat, which means that bacon can turn rancid even when frozen. Although you can freeze the unopened package, it is usually better to separate the slices into conveniently sized amounts (about 4 ounces or so for breakfast). Wrap the bacon tightly in plastic wrap, then overwrap with aluminum foil. For added protection place in a ziplock bag. Long-term freezing is not recommended. Thaw thoroughly in the fridge before cooking.
Once the vacuum pack is opened, bacon will usually keep for only about a week in the fridge, although sometimes it will keep for a couple of weeks. The ends may darken and dry out and they should be sliced off and thrown away before using. To make bacon crumbles, chop the bacon first and then cook it.
Keep Calm and Eat Bacon!