Tuesday 10 August 2010

Is Arrowroot an Oxymoron?

LinkWell I don't think that oxymoron is the correct term to use for a root, but I love that word, doesn't it just roll off your tongue? But using arrowroot is one of those things that shouldn't really work. Like using heat to make ice. Remember that scene in Mosquito Coast, when Harrison Ford lights a fire to get the ice machine started? How can a white opaque powder make beautiful transparent sauces? It's magical, pure alchemy........

The usual ingredient used for this purpose would be gelatine. (we spell it the French way in the UK) Which if you actually click on the word to check the wiki description isn't very nice stuff and it goes into all kinds of homely treats, like jelly, and jelly babies, and marshmallows! But as you probably know it's made from boiled up skin and bones.....it sounds a little bit like something out of Sweeney Todd!! I can't believe it's still used in so many things for children.....especially after the mad cow disease scare!

I don't like to get preachy or didactic but Arrowroot is such a great alternative. It used to be all the rage in Victorian times. Ladies would eat delicate arrowroot biscuits for their digestion. I don't want to be accused of being old-fashioned but I think that there should be an arrowroot come-back. It's such amazing stuff, it takes me right back to the chemistry lab at school.....when the chemistry teacher would let us put bromine liquid into a test tube and hey presto! It turned into gas. I wouldn't be without my little magical box of arrowroot in the baking cupboard.....well sometimes I am, and believe me it's not a good feeling.....


  1. Is it used the same way as gelatine is used in jellies and marshmallows? I must investigate.

  2. I always use this for really soft jellies like in trifle or if I'm making a sponge topped with cherries and I want a really thick transparent glaze.

    I don't know if it would work for marshmallows or a really hard set jelly. I think it might be too sticky, or runny. I don't think I'd really thought this through!

    I know that you can get agar agar (Kanten) or Carrageen which are both gelatine substitutes made from types of seaweed which apparently do a really good job. I've never tried either of them. I must have a go. It sounds like a fun rainy winter day thing to do....I'll have to save it for then.