Potato starch is made through an extensive process of washing, sometimes cooking, and then separating the starch present in potato cell walls so that it can be made into powdered or liquid form. In cooking, potato starch is often considered a substitute thickener for cornflour or white flour. However, it has a higher heat point than cornflour, so it may be superior for certain foods that require high temperatures.
Another benefit to potato starch, especially as compared to wheat flour as a thickener, is that it is gluten free. This means folks who want nice thick gravy, or soups or stews, but haven’t been able to achieve this with flour due to gluten intolerance, can use potato starch instead with excellent results. Like cornflour, you generally have to dissolve the potato starch in a little bit of water before adding it as a thickener so it will blend easily with other ingredients. Many people especially prefer starch made from potatoes or corn when thickening sauces because it can help the sauces remain translucent; whereas flour creates a more muddied appearing sauce.
You’ll find many types of potato starch on the market, some in organic forms if you want to avoid pesticides. It is occasionally sold as starch flour or potato starch flour instead, but usually all names refer to the same starch. Again, with the lack of gluten, such flour could be used to substitute for wheat flour in a variety of recipes, greatly enhancing the number of gluten free products you can make. Potato bread made with the starch or flour is often sweet and excellent, though check labels on commercial brands because they may contain some wheat flour.
- Refer also to Potato Flour