Wheat Starch Substitutes

Wheat Starch substitutes

Wheat Starch is a very important ingredient in the kitchen and running out of it might make you frustrated, unless you know better ways of working with the ingredients you have in your kitchen to substitute wheat starch.


Wheat Starch

Wheat starch is a glutton free carbohydrate which has been subjected to extra processing leaving it devoid of nutrition.Wheat starch is certainly not wheat flour although they share the same raw ingredient.Wheat starch is also known as pure flour or noodles and below are best ways of substituting it.

Substitutes for Wheat Starch

Homemade wheat starch

Homemade wheat starch is the ideal substitute for store bought wheat starch by virtue of it having an increased level of toughness and it is easy to make too.

  • Prepare a dough: Add more flour to your dough until it is not too soft but smooth and not sticky. Cover your dough with a damp cloth and leave it to rest at room temperature for an hour or two.
  • Pour water: Once the dough is proofed pour water that is 3 times the size of the dough.
  • Knead the dough with both hands such that the starch in the dough will be washed into the water.
  • Pour out pulp and repeat process: When the pulp becomes thick enough, pour it out and replace it with the same quantity of clean water. Knead the dough once again and again until the dough is absolutely gluten.
  • Sieve the pulp: Mix the washed water together, pouring it through a mesh sieve, then leave it to settle for half of the day {12 hours} or more.
  • Collect precipitated starch and dry it: Once settled, pour out the water at the top and place the precipitated starch into a clean cotton bag. Place the bag in a very sunny and well- aired area so that it can be tried. When semi-dry, crumb it to smaller pieces to speed up the drying process.

It is to be noted that, if added directly into a dish, wheat starch clumps. The correct way to mix wheat starch into a dish is by fast making a slurry. A slurry is a good blend of wheat starch and water. You pour the slurry into the main liquid while stirring until the intended thickness is achieved.

Starches from different sources differ in temperature of gelatinization as well as granule size. Since they are all starches, they can substitute each other. The most important thing to know is what you intend to do or achieve. Without knowing what you are trying to do knowing which starch to use as a wheat starch substitute becomes difficult.

Corn starch

Corn starch is extracted from corn. It is a good substitute for wheat starch as it is a strong thickener and it can also fulfil the purpose of adding softness to baked products. When used as a substitute to wheat starch, half of the amount of corn starch should be used, reason being corn starch is stronger, as already stated. Like wheat starch, corn starch forms lumps if not mixed into a slurry before being mixed into dishes. Corn starch has to be properly cooked as it leaves a chalky taste when under-cooked. It also adds an opaque quality to sauces but it loses its ability to bind when frozen, cooked under high temperatures and mixed with acidic ingredients.

Arrowroot Starch.

This starch is common in the tropical climates and it is made from the rhizomes. Like corn starch, half of it can be used to substitute wheat starch. It is a good thickener, adding a glossy shine to gravies. Arrowroot starch works well with acidic ingredients but curdles in milk based cream sauces. It also cannot stand high temperatures in cooking.

Tapioca Starch

It is made from the cassava plant’s tuberous root. It can substitute wheat starch in a ratio of 2:3 (2 tbsp Tapioca Starch = 3 tbsp Wheat Flour). It is the best alternative as it provides structure and chew in gluten free baking. It brings out that firmness/dryness in baked products, enhancing a liquid balance to the recipe. It can also bind sauces and soups well as it has a neutral taste.

Potato starch

Starch that is extracted from potatoes is also a strong binder, hence it substitutes wheat flour at the ratio 1:3/4 (1 tbsp of wheat starch= three quarter tbsp of potato starch). Potato starch offers the same tenderness brought out by wheat starch in baked products, hence it makes a good wheat starch substitute. It cannot withstand being in a boiling liquid, rather, it does well under low-moderate heat. It should definitely be mixed into a slurry first to avoid a clumped dish.

Characteristics of wheat starch

Wheat starch is a very fine powdery white substance which can withstand being cooked at high temperatures. It has a fine texture which makes it dissolve more easily in liquid. Wheat starch being gluten free does not entail that it is wheat free, thus you should not try it if you are intolerant to wheat.Wheat starch is not elastic.In terms of its taste, it has no element of sweetness at all, it is tasteless. Although it is a granulated carbohydrate, starch is very easy to digest.

Uses of wheat starch

Making dumpling

Wheat starch is popularly used in making Chinese dumpling wrappers as it is a milder thickener as compared to other forms of starch. It gives dumpling wrappers an intended semi-transparent thickness.

Thickening puddings and pie fillings

Wheat starch is used to stabilise puddings and pie fillings. Once heat is introduced to the pudding and pie fillings, the wheat starch in the fillings absorb water. When left to cool, the solution turns cloudy and forms a gel whose strength is totally dependent on the amount of wheat starch used. Therefore,the process through which starch thickens food is called gelatinization.

Binding soups, sauces and gravies

Wheat starch can be used to thicken or bind gravies, making the ingredients stick together. This gives the gravy, soup or sauce the desired thickness, as well as adding an opaque quality to the sauces.

For gluten free baking

Usually wheat flour is used in baking, especially cakes. It binds the ingredients together adding good texture and moisture to whatever you will be baking. Wheat flour is mixed with the heavier flour, in smaller ratios to avoid getting gummy baked products. Two table spoons of heavy flour are removed and replaced with 2 tablespoons of wheat starch; meaning it’s heavy flour minus 2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons wheat starch per cup. This ratio, if used in making cake produces firm but tender cakes with a “melt in your mouth kind of texture.”

 Coating for frying

Wheat starch can be used as a coating on fish or anything being fried. It is also used in a Chinese frying batter since it is gluten free, it hinders the batter from sticking and it gives it a crispy texture.When used as a coat, the fried turned out crispy.

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