Cornstarch is often used in baking recipes, but did you know that it has other uses too? Learn about the benefits of using cornstarch and why it’s important to use it correctly.
Cornstarch is a white powdery substance derived from corn. It can be found in many foods such as soups, sauces, bread, cakes, and muffins.
It is also commonly added to some medications to thicken them.
Cornstarch has long been used as a thickening agent in sauces and gravies, but does it also improve the texture of meats?
Cornstarch is a white powder derived from maize (corn) starch. It’s often added to food during cooking to thicken or emulsify sauces and gravies. This makes them easier to stir and blend into foods.
While some studies suggest that cornstarch helps the meat retain moisture, other research suggests that it actually toughens the muscle fibers. In addition, cornstarch contains gluten, which can cause intestinal distress in those who are sensitive to wheat.
The answer depends on how you cook your meat. The best way to determine if cornstarch will help tenderize your meat is by testing out different methods.
If you want to try this at home, here are three ways to test whether cornstarch will make your meat more tender:
1. Add cornstarch directly to boiling water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and add the meat. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes before serving.
2. Mix cornstarch with cold water and pour over hot meat. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
3. Combine cornstarch with milk and mix well. Pour over hot meat. Let’s sit for 20-30 minutes.
There are two main factors to consider when determining doneness: color and temperature. Meat should have a deep red color. If you see any pink color, then the meat needs to be cooked longer.
Meat should reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). To check the internal temperature, insert an instant-read thermometer through the side of the roast.
You can also use a meat thermometer instead. Insert the probe into the center of the meat.
Overcooked meat can dry out, become rough, and lose its flavor. When you’re cooking meat, always remember that the key to perfect results is proper timing.
Overcooking meat can result in tough cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and fish. You may even notice that your steak becomes rubbery after being cooked for too long.
To avoid overcooking meat, follow these tips:
• Cook meat until it reaches 165°F (74°C), and only then remove it from the oven.
• Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly.
• Don’t leave meat unattended while it cooks; cover it with foil if necessary.
When adding cornstarch to your recipe, start with 1/4 cup (60 ml) per pound (454 g) of meat. For example, if you plan to serve 4 people, you would need about 2 cups (480 ml) of cornstarch.
For a thicker gravy, you might want to double the amount of cornstarch. For example, if the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of flour, you could increase the cornstarch to 6 tablespoons (90 ml).
For a thinner sauce, reduce the amount of cornstarch to half the original quantity.
Yes! Cornstarch can be frozen indefinitely. Just place it in a freezer bag or container.
Cornstarch is made from corn kernels. Other starches include potato starch, tapioca starch, arrowroot powder, and rice flour. These starches all work similarly, but they each contain their own unique properties.
Potato starch has a higher protein content than cornstarch. It is often used as a thickener for sauces and gravies. Tapioca starch is derived from cassava roots. It is commonly used as a thickening agent for soups and stews.
Arrowroot powder is made by grinding dried roots of the plant Arum maculatum. It is often added to desserts because it gives them a smooth texture. Rice flour is ground from rice grains. It adds body and thickness to sauces and gravies.
Tenderizing agents fall into three categories: acidic, alkaline, and enzymatic. Each type works differently.
Acidic tenderizers such as lemon juice, vinegar, and citric acid cause proteins to break down. They make meat more flavorful and easier to chew.
Alkaline tenderizers like baking soda and sodium bicarbonate raise the pH level of the meat. This causes proteins to denature, making them soft and easy to chew.
Enzymes like papain, which comes from papaya fruit, and pectinase, which comes from citrus fruits, break down muscle fibers. They help the meat retain moisture and give it a chewy consistency.
There’s no one right way to tenderize meat. Choose the method that suits your needs. If you prefer a very tender cut of meat, try an acidic tenderizer. Alkalinity will produce a firmer cut. Enzymes will create a juicier piece.
Meat should reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). The USDA recommends cooking meat until it reaches at least 145°F (63°C). However, some cuts of meat may cook faster than others.
If you’re not sure whether your meat is done, insert a meat thermometer through the side of the roast. When the tip of the thermometer registers 160°F (71 °C), remove the meat from the heat.
You don’t have to buy expensive store-bought products to get great results. Homemade tenderizers are easy to make and inexpensive. Here are two recipes that use common ingredients found around the kitchen.
When cornstarch is combined with water, it creates a paste that coats the surface of the meat. As the meat cooks, this paste dissolves, leaving behind a thin layer on the surface. This helps the meat absorb flavors better and prevents it from drying out during cooking.
Yes! You can replace cornstarch with any starch that is similar in size and shape. Arrowroot powder, tapioca starch, or potato starch would be good choices.
No. Cornstarch doesn’t require rinsing.
Cornstarch is safe to use in all kinds of food. However, if you plan to bake bread or cakes containing cornstarch, keep in mind that they won’t rise properly.