Arrowroot Uses

One of the key arrowroot uses is, as a popular cooking agent. However, it has some medicinal value as well and is used in treating certain health conditions. Read this article to learn more about arrowroot powder and its uses.
The arrowroot plant is often referred to as obedience plant or Maranta arundinacea. This plant is native to West Indies where people of Arawak tribe are believed to have used the arrowroot as a herbal remedy for arrow poisoning. Thus its name arrowroot was derived. Today arrowroot is grown in various parts if the world including Brazil, Thailand, Philippines, Mauritius, India etc.

How to Obtain Arrowroot Powder?

The roots of the plants are first cleaned, washed and the water is drained thoroughly. Then they are smashed into a pulp by crushing the roots with a wood mortar. As a result, a milky white liquid substance is released, which is then passed through a coarse piece of cloth to extract the pure form of starch. It is then dried under the sun or in a drying house to obtain arrowroot powder.

How to Cook with Arrowroot?

Arrowroot powder is a dry, bland and odorless powder. It is widely used in various culinary purposes. It has a neutral taste and acts as an excellent thickener in delicate flavored liquids and help them to get converted into gelatinous mixture. Its thickening property does not change when it is added to acidic foods and hence, used in preparation of fruit gels and sour sauce. It is not affected by freezing and is used in homemade ice cream, in order to prevent formation of ice crystals.

Arrowroot powder does not contain gluten and is considered as a suitable replacement for wheat flour in baking of cakes and biscuits and various pudding preparations for people with dietary restrictions. A starchy thickener in improving the concentration of gravies is also one of the widely popular arrowroot uses. This is possible because its thickening quality remains intact even after heating. Before adding the thin powder into any hot liquid, it should be mixed with equal quantity of cold liquid so that a thick paste is formed and then this mixture should be poured into the hot food. Do not overheat the food after adding arrowroot or else it will lose its thickening effect. The only drawback of arrowroot is that it does not blend properly with dairy products.

Medicinal Uses of Arrowroot

As we have already mentioned, roots of the arrowroot plant have been in use as a traditional medicine, since several years. It was used to extract out poisons from septic wounds, harmful insect bites etc. The basic component of arrowroot powder is carbohydrates and it does not contain any protein. This makes it an easily digestible substance. For this reason, its consumption as a substitute for wheat flour is considered as safe for elderly and infants with chronic stomach problems. It also has a mild laxative effect that improves bowel movement. Moreover, calcium present in the arrowroot powder helps to maintain an acid alkali balance in the body. Those patients who require a no protein diet can also eat foods prepared from arrowroot. Arrowroot is mixed with water to prepare a thick paste and is used for weaning infants. This paste can also be used for soothing up the irritation caused by gangrene or smallpox.

Thus you can see that arrowroot uses are not just confined to being a food additive, but it is also an effective medicine. Though there are a number of substitutes like potato starch, rice starch, tapioca starch, kudzu powder, etc., none of them can give the kind of results that we get from using arrowroot in a recipe.
By Bidisha Mukherjee
Published: 5/26/2010
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