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Thickening101 with Massel Australia

Thickening 101

 

The meat is falling off the bone, the sweet aromas of slow cooked herbs have your guests ravenous, but your one pot wonder is a watery swamp disappointment. Never let a thin sauce stand between pot and plate again! Thickening 101: Where we explore the pros and cons of common thickening agents, and divulge our top tips and tricks to best thicken soups, stews and sauces.

 

Thickening methods


Reduce it

Reducing liquid: Thickening 101 with Massel Australia

In theory, an overly sloppy meal can be reduced through further cooking. Simply remove the lid, crank the heat and cook until the desired quantity of sauce is reached.

 

Pros

  • The recipe’s ingredient list is not altered in any way
  • No additional expense incurred

 

Cons

  • You risk concentrating the flavour
  • Other ingredients like meat may become overcooked (although you can remove before boiling down the stock)
  • You risk throwing the sauce-contents ratio off
  • You could delay serving time by up to an hour

 


Cornflour

Cornflour: Thickening 101 Massel Australia

Maize cornflour, or ‘cornstarch’, is flour finely derived from soaking and grinding maize kernels. It’s gluten-free, and when combined with liquid, turns milky in colour, and forms a smooth, glossy texture.

 

Quantity

  • 1t cornflour to 1L meal
    • If a recipe calls for 2½t of arrowroot, substitute 1T of cornflour.
    • If a recipe calls for 2T all-purpose flour, substitute 1T of cornflour.

 

How to use

Slurry method:

With equal parts cornflour and water make a paste. Add some hot liquid from the meal to your slurry and stir. When warm and smooth, add incrementally to your meal – stirring after each addition. A slurry ensures no gelatinous lumps form when the cornflour meets the hot liquid of your meal.

Dusting method:

Roll your meat and veggies in cornflour before cooking. The oil from the pan/meat fat cooks the flour and simultaneously thickens the meal.

 

Pros

  • Suitable for coeliac diets
  • Quick
  • Cheap
  • Flavourless
  • Resists thinning when overcooked
  • No additional fat is added to the meal

 

Cons

  • Capacity to thicken in acidic mixtures is reduced
  • Can turn translucent sauces milky in colour
  • Does not freeze well

 


Arrowroot

Arrowroot: Thickening 101 with Massel Australia

Arrowroot is a starch obtained from the roots of the tropical Maranta arundinanacea plant, native to South America. It is gluten-free, has an extraordinarily bland taste, and gelling properties perfect for thickening puddings and sauces. You can thank arrowroot for the glossy finish on tarts and sauces. Arrowroot activates as a lower temperature than both cornflour and all-purpose flour.

 

Quantity

  • ¼t arrowroot to 1L meal
    • If a recipe calls for 1T of cornflour, substitute 2½t of arrowroot.
    • If a recipe calls for 2T all-purpose flour, substitute 2½t of arrowroot.

 

How to use

Slurry method:

With equal parts arrowroot and cold liquid make a paste. Add some hot liquid from the meal to your slurry and stir. When warm and smooth, add incrementally to your meal – stirring after each addition. Only add when everything is cooked.

 

Pros

  • Suitable for coeliac diets
  • Quick
  • Cheap
  • Flavourless
  • Resists thinning when overcooked
  • No additional fat is added to the meal
  • Arrowroot will turn clear as it sets, meaning no discolouration to your meal

 

Cons

  • Does not reheat well (tendency to return to its starting consistency)
  • Can make savoury dishes look gelatinous and artificial due to its sheen

 


All-Purpose Flour

All-Purpose Flour: Thickening 101 with Massel Australia

Did you know general all-purpose glutinous flours are actually 75% starch? The starch absorbs water, and then when heat is applied, the molecules burst releasing a gel-like mixture perfect for thickening.

All-purpose flour gives more body to soups, stews and sauces than cornflour or arrowroot, meaning it’s ideal for rich, cream-based recipes like this Creamy Broccoli Pasta. Uncooked, the flavour is unpleasant. Once cooked, it takes on a nutty richness.

 

Quantity

  • 2t flour to 1L meal
    • If a recipe calls for 1T of cornflour, substitute 2T all-purpose flour.
    • If a recipe calls for 2½t of arrowroot, substitute 2T all-purpose flour.

 

How to use

Slurry method:

Mix equal parts flour and cold water. Add some hot liquid from the meal to your slurry and stir. When warm and smooth; stir into your meal. This will ensure no lumps form when the flour comes into contact with the hot meal. Bring meal to a boil and simmer for five minutes to cook the flour.

Slurry method: Thickening 101 Massel Australia

 

Beurre manié method:

Perfect for a small pan sauce. Knead equal parts butter and flour into dough. Add incrementally to a hot pan of sauce and whisk until combined. Simmer until the flour has cooked and your sauce has reached the desired consistency.

Beurre manié: Thickening 101 Massel Australia

 

Roux method:

Similar to a beurre manié, however the flour is cooked before the sauce is started, and calls on any kind of fat or oil. Melt the fat (e.g., butter) in a saucepan. Add flour and stir until combined. When the mixture has lightly goldened, remove from heat. Add a small portion of your liquid/meal and make a slurry. Combine all and simmer for three minutes until the desired consistency is reached.

Roux method: Thickening 101 Massel Australia

 

Dusting method:

Roll your meat and veggies in flour before cooking. The oil from the pan/meat fat cooks the flour and simultaneously thickens the meal.

Dusting method: Thickening 101 with Massel Australia

 

Pros

  • Calls for household ingredients
  • Reheats well
  • Freezes well

 

Cons

  • Not suitable for coeliac diets
  • More involved process
  • Tends to thin when overcooked
  • The colour of your roux transfers to your final meal, so is not suitable or all dishes.
  • Beure marnie and roux methods call for additional fats making it not the healthiest choice

 

Recipes

Chicken Thighs with Garlic Mustard Sauce

Creamy Cheese Sauce

 


Additional methods

Additional thickening methods - Massel Australia

There are wide variety of thickening agents on the market with differing price points and availability.

 

Dairy

  • Thickened cream
  • Sour cream
  • Yoghurt
  • Egg yolk

 

 Gums

  • Guar gum
  • Xanthan gum
  • Locust bean gum
  • Alginin

 

 Flours/Starches

  • Tapioca
  • Potato starch
  • Rice flour
  • Maize

 

Here’s a hint:

Cook your pasta, rice, pulses and beans in the dish to naturally thicken the sauce all in one pot.

 


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