The humble potatoes, we love them. From the creamy mashed potatoes to crispy french fries, it is a major building block of any cuisine. Its versatility is topping the charts that the reason why it is present in a lot of dishes, whether cooked or baked.
There are lots of products made from potatoes aside from the raw ones that we use. One of them is potato starch, a pantry basic for cooking and also for baking. But even if potatoes are very common, sometimes, you just can’t find potato starch on the grocery shelves, so here we are again to give you helpful tips and potato starch substitute that will work just fine like potato starch itself.
While we are at this whole “potato talk” we will also discuss a bit about potato starch, its basic characteristics and how it acts when cooked so you will have an idea. Also, in finding a substitute, in almost every ingredient, it totally depends on what you are cooking.
We will try to discuss each recommended substitute and in what dish can you use it instead of potatoes. We will also give you instructions on how you can make your own potato starch if you really need it but you can’t find any. Are you ready? Let’s start!
Background Check on Potato Starch
What is potato starch? As the name suggests, it is the starch extracted from the potato tubers. All plants contain starch as it is where they store their energy for them to grow and live. But in the case of some plants, one of them the potatoes, it contains a lot of starch in it. So basically, in potato starch, we only use the starch present on it and nothing else.
It is a white, light powder, has a neutral taste and since it is from a root crop, it cooks at a relatively low temperature. Dishes that are thickened with potato starch look relatively shiny and has a silky-smooth mouthfeel.
Potato starch is commonly used as a thickener in sauces and it is actually one of the best thickeners available. It is also used as binders on pies. It yields great results especially on dessert pies because it is bland and it doesn’t affect the taste and also it stands low temperatures which are perfect for freezing.
However, it cannot stand prolonged cooking in high temperatures so it should be added at the end of the cooking time. Potato starch is also used as a coating or as a batter and because it is very light and has low protein content, it produces crispy and light crusts. Aside from that, potato starch is very cheap and affordable.
Can You Substitute Potato Flour for Potato Starch?
This will be the first question that everyone asks, are this two the same or can we use them interchangeably. Can you use them interchangeably; well it depends on the dish. Are they the same? No, not really.
As what I mentioned above, potato starch is the “starch” alone, while potato flour is made from grounded and dried whole potatoes which even contains the potato skin, so it contains the starch as well as other components.
Potato Starch is lower in protein and fats and it doesn’t absorb a lot of water than potato flour. These characteristics are also the reason why potato starch creates a clear finish rather than opaque.
Potato starch is used mainly as thickener and binder while the potato flour is used as baking flour and as addition to potato recipes. While potato starch is practically tasteless, potato flour carries the taste of potatoes. However, both of them are gluten-free and thoroughly safe for those who have allergies and or intolerant to gluten.
Here Are Some Ingredients That You Can Use As Substitute For Potato Starch
Tapioca starch that comes from either a powder of small pearl balls is the closest alternative for potato starch. The starch from this ingredient is extracted from the cassava root much like in the process of extracting potato starch.
Tapioca like potato starch shares almost the same characteristics when used in cooking and baking. It is a great alternative for potato starch as a thickener for sauces as it also got a plain, neutral flavor and a shiny finish and cooks at a lower temperature.
It will also work good as a binder for pies, as it gives a clear, glossy, gel-like finish. It is also gluten-free. Tapioca, however, is a much lighter compared to potato starch so you might need to increase the ratio a bit when using in place of potato starch.
Arrowroot starch is another ingredient extracted from a root tuber. Like tapioca and potato starch, it shares a lot of common characteristics when used in cooking and sometimes, it actually works a lot better than the two. Arrowroot is very healthy compared to other flours and starches in the market and it is used in a lot of medicinal purposes.
Like potato starch, it is a good alternative in sauces as thickeners and binders on pies. It is undetectable in dishes because of the neutral taste and the glossy, gel finish that is actually better than potato starch or tapioca.
Arrowroot is easily digested by the body and doesn’t contain known allergens so you are more than sure that using it will cause fewer complications. The only downside is that arrowroot may be rarer than potato starch and a lot more expensive
Cornstarch is a common pantry ingredient that is very accessible. Made from the endosperm only of the corn can also work as a potato starch substitute. It is light cereal based starch that is good for thickening sauces and gravies especially those dishes that contains milk as it doesn’t affect the texture of the dish with dairy.
It thickens in a higher temperature and creates an opaque finish. It can also work for batters and coatings in place of potato starch.
One downside of cornstarch is the long cooking time and gelatinization time, unlike the root starches. It also has a “floury” aftertaste that is a disadvantage when used in pies and other desserts with delicate flavors. It is, however, easy to get a hand with and also very inexpensive.
Tip: You can make your own potato starch at home!
What you’ll need:
- Starchy potatoes like Russet potatoes (quantity depends on you)
- Cheese Grater
- Enough clean or distilled water
- 2 clear large containers
- Wash and peel your potatoes.
- Grate them using a cheese grater and put it in a basin or container.
- Soak and wash the potatoes gently in water to get the starch out.
- Use the strainer to filter the water from washing the potatoes and place it in a separate container. This water contains the starch.
- Wash the potatoes 2-3 times to get all the starch and transfer the water to the container.
- Let it sit to let the starch settle.
- Drain the water after you see the starch settling at the bottom.
- Stir in clean water in the extracted starch and again let it settle. This process will clean the starch. Repeat until the water becomes clear.
- Transfer into a container and let it air dry.
- After few hours or days, your starch is ready to use.
This process is very effective and extracts pure potato starch, but it yields only a little amount. You can also do this to tapioca and arrowroot.
There you have it cooks and bakers, some alternatives that you can use as potato starch substitute and other tips. I hope that it answered some questions and it broadened your ideas about starches and other ingredients. Please do not hesitate to ask us questions and share this post! Have a good day!