Cornstarch, which is sometimes referred to as corn flour, is a white powdery substance used for culinary, household, and industrial purposes. Like the name suggests, it is extracted from corn, more specifically the endosperm of corn.
It originated in 1844, and it’s mostly produced in corn-growing countries like the United States, which is the largest producer of corn in the world. However, countries like Brazil, China, and India also produce corn.
You should be able to find at least one type of cornstarch in the baking aisle of any grocery store or supermarket. If you wish to buy cornstarch online, you should do so from websites like Walmart or Amazon, where you can find brands like Clabber Girl or Argo, which are reputable and reasonably priced brands.
In this article, I’m going to speak a bit more about cornstarch, how it differs from corn flour, where it’s available, and how you can use it at home for culinary purposes.
What is cornstarch?
Cornstarch is like regular flour, but instead of being derived from wheat, it’s derived from corn.
Cornstarch is only made of carbohydrates (and no protein), and unlike wheat-based flour, it doesn’t have gluten, making it an excellent gluten-free alternative to flour thickeners.
As you know, cornstarch is often used to thicken sauces, gravy, or soups, and it’s also used to make things like corn syrup and other sugars.
However, allow me to emphasize that cornstarch and corn flour are not one and the same.
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Difference between cornstarch and corn flour
While cornstarch is made from the starchy part of the corn, corn flour is made from whole corn kernels, which means both have distinct nutrient profiles, flavors, and purposes.
Cornstarch is more refined and is made by removing the protein and fiber of the corn kernell, leaving only the starchy core called the endosperm. Only then it’s ground into a white powder.
Corn flour is obtained by grinding whole corn kernels into a powder. However, this means that the nutrient profile is more complete, since it’s taking full advantage of the corn. The powder, however, is typically yellow-colored.
There is also a difference in terms of flavor.
Corn flour has a more sweet flavor, so it can be used to replace wheat flour in bread, pancakes, waffles, and pastries. In contrast, cornstarch is flavorless, so it’s mostly used to add texture rather than taste.
One thing to keep in mind is that in countries like the United Kingdom, Israel, Ireland, and a few other countries, people refer to cornstarch as being corn flour, so in those places they’re one and the same.
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What stores sell cornstarch?
- Amazon is a great place to buy products online, including cornstarch. They sell cornstarch in bulk, so you can literally find buckets of cornstarch available. But while this is a more cost-effective option, it’s also true that in most cases, people only use tiny amounts of cornstarch.
- Walmart is among the most popular retailers in the United States alongside Amazon, and it has various brands of cornstarch, including Argo.
- Whole Foods offers 365 Everyday Value cornstarch, which is essentially their own brand. Compared to a brand like Argo, the one from Whole Foods is more affordable. They also have others brands available, including Argo and Rumford.
- Target also sells cornstarch from brands like Argo and Clabber Girl.
- Publix has many cornstarch brands available, including Bob’s Red Mill, Signature Kitchens and Argo.
- Safeway also has a variety of cornstarch brands, namely Argo, Signature Kitchens and Kingsford’s.
- Kroger is another supermarket that has Argo in-store, as well as its own brand of cornstarch.
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Great ways to use cornstarch
Make an Eggless French Toast
French toasts usually contain eggs, but you can replace them with cornstarch which acts as a wonderful substitute, not only because it’s flavourless, but it also provides the bread with the characteristic yellow texture.
This recipe is available on Vegetarian Gastronomy.
Make Crispy Tofu
If you’re like me and love tofu, this recipe is a delicious one and it only takes a couple of minutes – 10 minutes to prepare and 5 minutes to cook.
The tofu is left to marinate for 30 minutes in a marinade with soy sauce, lemon juice, maple syrup, sriracha, and garlic powder, until it’s coated with cornstarch to provide it with a crispy texture.
If you’re interested in this recipe, check it out at the Live-In Kitchen.
Make Vegan Cheese
As we’ve mentioned at the start of this article, cornstarch is more likely to be used as a thickener, rather than an additive that confers food with taste.
This vegan cheese recipe shows you how one can use cornstarch to hold the vegan cheese together, so that it acquires a form and texture that is similar to dairy-based cheese.
You can access this recipe by watching the video above, but you can also read it at Exceedingly Vegan.
Is cornstarch vegan?
The only ingredient present in cornstarch is corn starch itself, which is derived from corn. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that cornstarch is not suitable for vegans.
Is cornstarch gluten-free?
Cornstarch is typically touted as an excellent gluten-free alternative to wheat flour, but it’s important to emphasize that not all brands may be gluten-free.
Some cornstarch brands are processed in facilities where other products containing gluten are also processed, so cross-contamination is a possibility.
Are there alternatives to cornstarch?
There are several alternatives to cornstarch, including:
- Potato starch
- Wheat flour
- Tapioca flour
- Rice flour
- Chickpea flour
Personally, I love chickpea flour, as I regularly use it to make delicious plant-based omelletes.
Cornstarch is a product that you can easily find in a grocery store or supermarket, typically in the baking aisle next to other products like flours and cake mixes.
If you have trouble finding it in-store, you can always try buying it online via Amazon, Walmart, or Target, or you can opt for an alternative like chickpea flour or rice flour.
Hopefully, this article has helped you find the answer you were hoping to find. 🙂