Starch – corn starch – tapioca Sago – arrowroot

The most common thickener is wheat flour, although it is less effective: in fact it requires considerable amounts and makes the sauces to which is added opaque. A great thickening power has the potato starch, however, that makes the sauces and creams a bit sticky and streamers, while maintaining a kind of transparency.


The same effect without stickiness, is made in equal quantities with cornstarch (typically sold in pharmacies, as food for children) Sagon or Tapioca Pearl (Sago). The Sagon is derived from sago pith of the stem of various species of palms, particularly the Sagus laevis.

The tapioca starch is derived instead from the tuber of a plant called Manihot utilissima. A false tapioca is made with potato starch, but not transparency, nor the real creamy tapioca has a different  taste.

Then there is the arrowroot (chinese potato), which is extracted from the rhizomes of Maranta arundinacea, and is the best thickener. There is sufficient quantities to thicken with perfect transparency. It takes 7-8 g of arrowroot to “bind” a quart of salsa sauce, and it takes 5 g to prepare one  serving of cream with tomato sauce or other vegetables.

With low-fat milk, saccharin and arrowroot we are preparing sweet creams, various flavors, low calorific value. Also imperceptible quantities of arrowroot can give or restore some consistency to butter sauces, such as “Dutch” or “bearnaise” and thicken the chocolate in the cup and some juice too fluid stewed fruit.

One hundred grams of this starch provides an average of 350 calories, but as mentioned, are just 5 grams per serving of cream with a contribution of 17.5 calories then.

Starch, cornstarch, tapioca, arrowroot and Sagon are very digestible, added to children food and also, given the low caloric intake, that of the obese.

Thickeners can be used in cooking, in small doses, to give texture to sauces and creams.

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