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Cornflour or Cornstarch

Cornflour, Corn Flour or Cornstarch is processed corn meal that contains only the starch element; maize is softened with a weak acid, ground to remove the bran and then all the non-starchy parts are washed out before grinding to an almost pure starch. So it differs from cornmeal, masa harina and polenta.

Unlike flour, cornflour contains no gluten, so is a better thickener for sauces as it does not lump up. When mixed into a cream with water, then boiled, it forms a gelatinous, glossy and quite clear jelly. Cornflour is interchangeable with arrowroot, but arrowroot forms a clearer jelly. If a cornflour sauce is cooked for too long, the sauce will thin out again.

Cornflour has almost no taste, but if anything is mildly sweet. Cornflour is ideal for blancmanges and custards, plus for use in baking cakes. Cornflour is also used in Chinese cooking, but not as much as arrowroot.

Other Languages

Language Cornflour
French Farine de maïs
German Maismehl
Italian Farina di granturco
Spanish Harina de maíz

Further Reading

  • Christian, G. (2005) Real Flavours: the handbook of gourmet & deli ingredients, Grub Street. ISBN 1904943209.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.