Answer: Yes. It is a plant-based food ingredient.
In the vegan world, you have to choose what goes into your food cart. Cornstarch is one food product that is a sure affirmative in the vegan category. You can skip studying this food ingredient’s components and check for additives that may contradict the vegan diet.
Is cornstarch vegan? It is a plant-based food ingredient that comes from the endosperm of corn. Cornstarch is a thickening agent for dishes. The white powdery substance added to food gives a thickened texture to many cuisines.
Vegans use cornstarch for cooking and baking recipes, but there is more to learn about this simple corn-based food that you can apply to your vegan recipes.
What Is Cornstarch?
Cornstarch is a plant-based product made from the white center part of a corn kernel or the endosperm and is very starchy. Discovered in 1842 used for starch laundry, then shifted to food use a few years after. Vegans use cornstarch to prepare their meals for its thickening properties in different dishes and appreciate it for being gluten-free.
It is a functional food to add texture to dishes. It belongs to the family of starches, and its long chains of starch molecules will unravel and swell when heated with moisture present.
Cornstarch Used In Vegan Recipes
Vegans have many uses for cornstarch. The primary function of cornstarch is a thickener for cooking. It gives texture and body for baking sweet and savory dishes. Cornstarch has twice the thickening effect of flour by adding a tablespoon or two.
When mixed with liquid, the appearance is clear, unlike flour that is opaque. An important thing to remember is you should not freeze sauces or mixtures that have thickened with cornstarch. Freezing breaks down the gelatinized starch matrix, and during the thawing process, the mixture will lose its bulk and become thin.
Cornstarch dissolved in a separate container with cooled liquid (water, wine, stock, or broth) to make a slurry. Stir the slurry into the hot sauce or broth to allow even distribution of molecules to swell. The swelling action or gelatinization is what causes thickening to occur.
Remember to bring the mixture to a full boil before cooling. The starch molecules need to mature to gelatinize. It will release the moisture once cooled down, and the mixture will become thin again.
Vegans will add cornstarch to thicken the salad dressings for their greens. They use the same for sauces and for the hearty vegetable stews, which are favorite comfort food. It works to thicken the gravy for your mashed potatoes, onion cakes, or even biscuits. Added to yogurt and pudding, it makes both fuller and thicker in texture.
Cornstarch gives structure by keeping the shape of bread, muffin, or a cookie. It gives the cake or pie the thickening fullness and bulk. When used with flour on baked goods, it softens the flour and creates the perfect texture and crumb.
Some recipes call for the fruit mixed with dry cornstarch before baking. The thick juices of the fruit will thicken the cornstarch while baking. Adding this will prevent a watery or runny texture for the pie.
Casseroles using a top covering to bake in the stew will have a crispy and fluffy top layer and seal in the flavors together. It keeps the moisture for cakes, pastries, and bread preventing crustiness or flakiness from drying.
Once mixed in equal parts, cornstarch and flour, produce a batter for fried foods with a light and crispy texture. Foods like fried cauliflower, fried spinach, or fried french beans have a crunchy and light texture.
Cornstarch added to coat finely sliced potato makes mojos extra crisp and perfect with the added cheese. Fried and coated tofu takes on a nice crispy texture instead of the soft, chewy meat we expect to bite.
Breakfast food like waffles or pancakes that combines flour and cornstarch keep it light and not too dense. Working as a substitute for eggs by using two tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with three tablespoons of water, you can now successfully make your french toast.
Is There A Difference Between Cornstarch And Cornflour?
You might confuse cornflour and cornstarch because the source is corn. But there lies the difference in its profile, uses, gluten content, and flavor. It would be best not to confuse the two food ingredients to avoid a cooking fiasco.
Cornstarch is a white powder that comes from the starchy compound of the corn kernel. It goes through removing the protein and fiber, making it gluten-free, leaving only the carbohydrate. It is a flavorless ingredient and adds texture to dishes.
Corn flour is a yellow powder made from finely ground dried corn or corn kernels. Cornflour has protein, fiber, starch, vitamins, and minerals. It is rich in gluten and makes wheat products dense and crumbly. It has a sweet taste and earthy taste like any other flour.
Is Cornstarch Healthy?
Cornstarch is all carbohydrates, with a gluten-free property. Cornstarch is neutral but has no protein, fat or vitamins, minerals, or fiber. The function of cornstarch is to add texture like baking powder or baking soda, all flavorless additives.
Cornstarch is one of the ingredients in highly processed and packaged foods. Its label shows high preservatives, refined grains, added sugars, and sodium. Processed or packed foods have a high-calorie count and sodium content, two main reasons for weight gain and bloating.
No one can claim that weight gain is due to thickened food by adding cornstarch. A tablespoon or two added to the recipe will add between 30-60 calories and 7-14 grams of carbohydrate to the dish.
How To Store Cornstarch
Cornstarch absorbs moisture, so you must keep it as dry as possible. It would be best to find an air-tight container to store cornstarch in your pantry or a cool temperature and dry place. Avoid exposing to ambient humidity and away from extreme heat.
DIY Homemade Cornstarch
- Soften the corn kernels by soaking in water, then blending to extract the starch.
- When cornstarch and water mix, it forms a substance called Oobleck.
- Using flour sackcloth or cheesecloth, drain until there are no pieces of kernels in the mixture.
- Squeeze out the liquid from the sackcloth or cheesecloth until solid kernel bits are left.
- The liquid is left to rest for two hours until the thickened part settles in the bottom of the container.
- Drain the clear liquid to separate from the creamy corn texture on the bottom of the bowl.
- Pat dry with a paper towel to take out any remaining moisture from the corn cream.
- Gather the almost solid cream and spread it out to dry in the sun or by the window.
- Once dried, put the solid cream in the blender to take out any chunks. The result is a silky texture of cornstarch powder.
Modern farming has increased the yield and quality of vegetables and fruits, including genetically modified corn. The corn used in cornstarch may have been enzymatically, chemically, and physically altered to increase its shelf life. It can tolerate extreme temperatures that would cause the corn to wilt, dry up or decay.
For food products that have cornstarch ingredients, it asks you to add water to the package. Processed food that is easy to prepare and assemble for a rushed meal or snack. These items are available on grocery shelves like instant foods, instant meals, instant noodles, instant mixes, gravy packets, and instant puddings.
Popular Cornstarch Brands For Vegans
The following brands have gone through careful review to ensure that no cross-contamination in the processing facilities happened. These brands have gotten the stamp of approval for vegan and gluten-free cornstarch.
The brands available and arranged in alphabetical order are Anthony’s, Argo, Bob’s Red Mill, Clabber Girl, Earthborn Elements, Hodgson Mill, Pure, Repunzel, and Rumford.
Other Uses Of Cornstarch
Packed items with cornstarch include shredded cheese, dry soup, cake, and biscuit mixes as an anti-caking agent. Referred to as anhydrous compounds, they are added in small amounts to dry foods to prevent clumping or caking. This ensures the product remains dry by absorbing moisture from condensation and prevent a slimy texture.
Cornstarch Is Part Of Vegan Nutrition
You are sure that when you use cornstarch, you are going vegan all the way. It is pure carbohydrates, but its starch comes from a corn kernel, and when added to prepare meals, you confidently know that it adheres to a plant-based diet.
It’s clear that cornstarch functions as an added ingredient to thicken all sorts of sauces to enhance the dish. Mixed with flour, you can make the perfect crust or casserole. Baked with pie or cake ingredients, you will get the nice gelatinized fruit topping.
Cornstarch is essential for natural moisture absorption and can keep fruits and vegetables fresh for a longer time. The anti-caking prevents moisture build-up and keeps the shape longer without having to keep draining the extra liquids.