Cornstarch Uses: From Cooking and Baking to Cleaning and Crafts

April 23, 2023

If you're a fan of cooking and baking, you've probably used cornstarch at some point in your life. This fine white powder, made from the starchy endosperm of corn, is a versatile thickening and binding agent that can help you make sauces, soups, puddings, custards, cakes, and many other dishes.

But did you know that cornstarch has many other uses beyond the kitchen? In fact, cornstarch is a common ingredient in personal care products, cleaning agents, and even arts and crafts. In this article, we'll explore some of the many cornstarch uses and benefits, and provide tips and recipes to help you make the most of this handy pantry staple.

Cornstarch Alternatives

Before we dive into the cornstarch uses, it's worth mentioning that if you don't have cornstarch at hand, you can find great cornstarch replacements. Some of the most popular cornstarch substitutes include:

  • Flour: If you want to thicken a sauce or gravy, you can use flour instead of cornstarch. However, flour has a slightly different taste and texture, and takes longer to cook than cornstarch.
  • Arrowroot powder: This gluten-free and paleo-friendly starch has a neutral taste and works well as a thickener for delicate sauces and puddings.
  • Potato starch: Another gluten-free and paleo-friendly option, potato starch has a similar texture and thickening power to cornstarch, but may impart a slightly earthy flavor.
  • Tapioca starch: This starchy powder, made from the cassava root, is a common thickener in Asian and African cuisines. It has a strong binding power and works well in pies and puddings.

Cornstarch for Cooking and Baking

One of the most common cornstarch uses is as a thickening agent for sauces, soups, and gravies. Cornstarch works by absorbing the liquid in a recipe and forming a gel-like consistency that thickens the sauce. To use cornstarch as a thickener, mix it with cold water or another cool liquid until it forms a smooth slurry, and then add it to the hot liquid you want to thicken.

Aside from thickening, cornstarch can also be used as a binding agent in baked goods like cakes, cookies, and breads. Cornstarch can help keep the dough or batter together and prevent it from becoming too crumbly or dry. For example, you can add some cornstarch to your gluten-free flour blend to improve the texture and structure of your baked goods.

Cornstarch can also come in handy in other cooking and baking situations, such as:

  • Dusting surfaces: Sprinkling cornstarch on a cutting board, rolling pin, or dough helps prevent sticking and makes it easier to handle dough and pastry.
  • Coating meats and vegetables: Dredging meats and vegetables in a mixture of cornstarch and spices before frying or roasting can give them a crispy and golden crust.
  • Making custards and puddings: Cornstarch can help stabilize custards and puddings and prevent them from separating or curdling. Just make sure to whisk the cornstarch thoroughly with the other ingredients before cooking.

Cornstarch for Personal Care

Apart from cooking and baking, cornstarch has many uses in personal care products, especially for its absorbent and soothing properties. Some examples of cornstarch uses in personal care include:

  • Baby powder: Many commercial baby powders use cornstarch as their main ingredient to help absorb moisture and prevent diaper rash.
  • Dry shampoo: If you don't have time to wash your hair, or you want to extend the life of your blowout, you can use cornstarch as a dry shampoo. Simply sprinkle some cornstarch on your roots and massage it in to absorb excess oil and refresh your hair.
  • Deodorant: Cornstarch can also help absorb sweat and neutralize odor in homemade deodorant recipes. Combine cornstarch with coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oils to make your own natural deodorant.
  • Skin relief: If you have a rash, irritation, or sunburn, you can apply cornstarch to the affected area to soothe and dry it out. Cornstarch can help reduce inflammation and itching and promote healing.

Cornstarch for Cleaning and Crafts

Finally, cornstarch has many surprising uses in cleaning and crafts. Here are just a few examples:

  • Carpet stain remover: You can use cornstarch to absorb and lift stains from carpets, such as red wine, grease, or ink. Simply sprinkle cornstarch on the stain, let it sit for a few hours, and then vacuum it up.
  • Silver polish: If you want to shine your silverware without harsh chemicals, you can make an all-natural silver polish with cornstarch and water. Mix equal parts of cornstarch and water until you get a thick paste, then apply it to your silverware with a soft cloth or sponge. Rub gently, rinse with warm water, and dry with a clean cloth.
  • DIY slime: Cornstarch can be used to make homemade slime, which is a fun and tactile activity for kids and adults alike. To make cornstarch slime, mix cornstarch with water in a bowl until it forms a thick paste. Add food coloring and glitter if desired, and then play with the slime with your hands or tools.
  • Face mask: Cornstarch can also be used as a base for homemade face masks, especially for oily or acne-prone skin. Mix cornstarch with honey, lemon juice, and tea tree oil to make a clarifying and exfoliating mask that can help unclog pores and reduce inflammation.

Overall, the many cornstarch uses and benefits make it a must-have kitchen and household staple. Whether you need to thicken a sauce, soothe your skin, or polish your silverware, cornstarch is a natural and affordable solution that can help you achieve your goals. Just remember to store it in a cool and dry place, and don't be afraid to experiment with its many uses and variations.

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