Arrowroot flour has been a staple in many cultures for centuries, and it’s making a strong comeback as a go-to gluten-free, grain-free, and paleo-friendly alternative to traditional flour.
So, what exactly is arrowroot flour, and how can you incorporate it into your cooking and baking repertoire? Let’s explore this impressive ingredient and discover all it has to offer!
What is arrowroot flour?
Arrowroot flour (also known as arrowroot powder/starch) is a starchy powder made from the rhizomes, or underground stems, of the arrowroot plant (Maranta arundinacea). The arrowroot plant is a tropical tuber like yucca or cassava.
To make arrowroot flour commercially, the rhizomes are first washed, peeled, and grated. The resulting pulp is then mixed with water to separate the starch from the fibrous material. The starch is then dried and ground into a fine powder, which is sifted to remove any remaining fibrous material. This process yields a pure, white, flavorless, and odorless powder that is highly absorbent.
What’s the difference between arrowroot flour and regular flour?
The main difference between arrowroot flour and regular flour is that arrowroot flour is made from the arrowroot plant and regular flour is made from refined/enriched wheat.
Arrowroot flour is more of a pure starch than a standalone flour like regular flour, so while arrowroot flour can give a lighter texture to baked goods, it can’t be used as a direct replacement for regular flour. Read the full details on arrowroot flour vs all-purpose flour.
Benefits of arrowroot flour
Arrowroot flour is naturally gluten-free and grain-free. It’s known for being a non-allergenic alternative to wheat flour that is easily digestible. Arrowroot boasts anti-inflammatory properties and is loaded with essential nutrients such as potassium, iron, and B vitamins.
Arrowroot flour can serve as an excellent paleo-friendly alternative to cornstarch (corn isn’t allowed on a paleo diet). Plus, arrowroot flour is fat-free, cholesterol-free, sugar-free, and has a low glycemic index score (won’t spike your blood sugar).
It’s an excellent ingredient for thickening sauces, gravies, and puddings without imparting any flavor or changing the color.
Arrowroot flour nutrition facts
|Arrowroot flour (1 tbsp.)||35||8 g||5 g||0 g||0 g||0 g||14|
|All-purpose flour (¼ cup)||120||24 g||1 g||0 g||0.5 g||4 g||85|
How to bake and cook with arrowroot flour
As I mentioned, arrowroot flour/powder is mostly used as a thickening agent. Substitute 2:3 for cornstarch or 1:2 for all-purpose flour.
To thicken soups, sauces, and gravies, mix a small amount of arrowroot flour with cold water to make a “slurry” before adding it to prevent clumping. I recommend adding it in at the end of cooking to make sure you don’t overheat the starch, which interferes with its thickening ability.
Arrowroot flour can be incorporated into gluten-free baking recipes to create a light and delicate texture in cakes and cookies. However, due to its finer texture and high liquid absorbency, it’s best to use a blend of arrowroot flour with other gluten-free flours for the best results.
Popular arrowroot flour baked goods and dishes
Arrowroot is a common ingredient in the following:
- Light and fluffy cakes such as angel food cake, sponge cake, and chiffon cake
- Gluten-free bread, including sandwich bread, rolls, and bagels
- Pancakes and waffles
- Pie and tart fillings
- Thickener in sauces, gravies, and soups
How to make arrowroot flour at home
Unless you live in South America, it’s going to be very tricky to get your hands on the rhizomes of the arrowroot plant, which are used to make arrowroot flour.
The process of making arrowroot flour involves harvesting the arrowroot plant, washing and peeling the rhizomes, and then grinding them into a fine powder. This process requires specialized equipment and is not something that can be easily replicated at home.
However, arrowroot flour is widely available in grocery stores and online retailers. I recommend going to a reputable supplier to buy high-quality arrowroot flour (Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Flour is a good one).
How to store arrowroot flour
Since it’s a starch, arrowroot flour can last for a long time if stored properly. Store-bought arrowroot flour typically has a shelf life of up to 2 years if stored in a cool, dry place away from moisture and humidity.
It’s important to note that over time, arrowroot flour may lose some of its thickening power, so it’s best to use it up before 2 years.
What are the best substitutes for arrowroot flour?
Without a doubt, tapioca starch is the best substitute for arrowroot flour. It has a similar texture, neutral flavor, and thickening properties which makes these two interchangeable in recipes. Plus, they are both gluten-free.
Cassava flour comes in at a close second, which like tapioca starch, comes from cassava roots. It’s just as healthy as arrowroot flour and has lots of fiber.
If you don’t have access to arrowroot flour, tapioca starch, or cassava flour, you can use cornstarch in a pinch to thicken things (not meant to be used in large amounts).
Arrowroot flour can be a healthy option for those looking for a gluten-free, grain-free, or paleo-friendly alternative to traditional flours. It’s low in calories and fat, and it contains several nutrients, such as potassium, iron, and B vitamins.
Arrowroot flour is made from the rhizomes, or underground stems, of the tropical arrowroot plant. The rhizomes are washed, peeled, and dried before being ground into a fine powder.
No, arrowroot powder is not inflammatory. In fact, it is often used as a digestive aid and anti-inflammatory agent in traditional medicine.