Cornstarch is a thickening agent that helps add texture to recipes.

©2007 Natural Health Supply

Q. What's the best way to use cornstarch in cooking?

A. Cornstarch is used for many things in cooking, but it's most common use is as a binder and thickener in various dishes.

Cornstarch is a smooth powder made from the endosperm (center) of dried corn kernels, and it has about twice the thickening ability of flour. Unlike flour, cornstarch actually becomes clear when cooked. It's also used as as an anti-caking agent in powdered sugar, which is why confectioners sugar seems to have a similar consistency to cornstarch.

One common occurrence when using cornstarch is the accumulation of lumps. To avoid lumps when using cornstarch, it should be mixed with a cold liquid until smooth before cooking or adding it to a hot liquid. If sauces made with cornstarch are overcooked or stirred too long, they will become thin.

The next time you peruse the baking isle, check out the ingredients list -- you'll be surprised to learn just how many prepackaged baking mixes use the binding ingredient.

For some great recipes that use cornstarch, see: