Arrowroot is part of the starch family, just like corn and potato. Its white powder is extracted from the marente rhizome (maranta arundinacea), a tropical plant that grows mainly in Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Guyana, but also in the West Indies and India. It is characterized by straight and high stems of about one meter. Its leaves can be green or variegated with creamy white.
A touch of history
The arrowroot “arrowroot” in English, owes its name to the Native Americans of South America: the Arawaks. The latter used it to extract poison from the wounds caused by the arrows sent by their enemies.
Nowadays, marente has above all a culinary connotation: “We use its starch, also called “arrowroot”, to thicken or bind preparations: sauces, entremets…. In addition to bringing a touch of exoticism to the recipes, it takes into account the health aspect since it is, among other things, gluten-free, anti-inflammatory and low in calories”, presents Alexandra Murcier. Its thickening agent also allows it to be used in cosmetics for the production of balms and creams. We will come back to this below.
Arrowroot powder is interesting for its prebiotic side. It contains a variety of fibers that help nourish the intestinal microbiota and support natural defenses. “Arrowroot will therefore be particularly recommended for people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)”, explains the dietician-nutritionist. This is probably why the arrowroot is also sometimes called “ stomach dressing and that in Martinique, its starch is sometimes incorporated into food preparations for infants with fragile intestines. This does not exempt you from taking medical advice.
“Arrowroot is also a good option for celiac patients since it is gluten-free”, continues the health practitioner.
Arrowroot starch also acts as anti-inflammatory. Combined with coconut oil, it can be applied to painful gums. On this subject, several books offer recipes for soothing treatments for the mouth, such as that of Janice Cox (source 2).
The arrow-root also makes it possible to bring a source of energy long duration. As the dietetics specialist explains: “In its composition, there are carbohydrates (85%) and vitamins, including:
And also calcium, magnesium, iron and a little copper.”
Be careful, however, not to take arrowroot for a superfood: “Arrowroot is only a starch and not a raw food to be consumed in its own right. To cover the body’s real needs, it would be necessary to take it in large quantities and daily, which does not really make sense here”, nuances the practitioner.
She adds: “On the other hand, its slimming advantage is considerable. Arrowroot has a lower glycemic index than that of corn, so it will be preferable to favor the first.” It also contains few calories: 65 kcal for 100g (source 2).
While arrowroot powder and cornstarch are effective thickeners, they have different characteristics. For example, they react differently to heat. Arrowroot tends to break down when cooked over high heat, so it is best to use it at the end of cooking as it thickens quickly without the need to boil (creams , blanks, etc.). In comparison, cornstarch can be cooked at high temperatures for a long time. Ideal for making meringues.
Another major difference between the two, the composition : “If both are normally gluten-free, be careful with cornstarch. Indeed, some brands are not considered reliable for people with celiac disease” adds Alexandra Murcier.
The people of Réunion are so fond of arrowroot that they use it as the main ingredient in baking. Among their emblematic recipes: “the Rouroute sweets”, kinds of whitish biscuits.
For 6 persons (source 3)
1 puff pastry, 1 liter of milk, 190 cane sugar, 120 g arrowroot, 3 whole eggs + 3 yolks, 1 vanilla pod
Spread the dough in the mold to miss. Prick with a fork.
Pour 80 cl of milk into a saucepan with the sugar and the vanilla pod cut in half and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, mix the remaining 20 cl of milk with the sifted arrowroot and the eggs
Pour the boiling mixture over the mixture with the eggs while beating with a whisk.
Return the pan to low heat and allow to thicken, stirring gently with a wooden spoon.
Pour everything over the dough.
Bake in the oven (in the bottom of the oven) preheated to 180°C for 40 minutes.
Taste it, it’s worth the detour!
For its properties soothing and healingmarente powder is an ingredient that is frequently found in cosmetics in creams, masks but also beauty gels.
It is especially for its matifying virtues that arrowroot can be incorporated into certain make-up powders, eye shadows, blushers… When applied to the hair, it will also help absorb excess sebum (source 4).
Arrowroot is also sometimes found in the composition of certain natural deodorants.
Indicative dosages for DIY recipes (Do It Yourself)
If arrowroot powder makes it possible to make different preparations, note thathowever, it is insoluble in oil but partially soluble in water, when stirred.
You will find it especially in grocery stores and organic stores. “The best thing is to favor an arrowroot from fair trade because organic labels from Latin America, for example, are not always a guarantee of quality,” says Alexandra Murcier.
This ingredient from elsewhere is sold at an affordable price in France: count on average between 10 and 14 euros for a kilo.
“Ideally, protected from air, humidity and heat. Remember to close the container well after each use,” recommends the nutritionist.
If you have trouble finding arrowroot, you can fall back to the tapioca starch which is similar to arrowroot, by its gluten-free side.
Unless you live on the other side of the Atlantic, it will be difficult to obtain the maranta arundinacea plant, a basic element for making starch. However, if you find some, you can take inspiration from the following process to transform it into powder:
Soak the rhizomes (perennial underground stems) in hot water. Then peel them to remove their fibrous skin. Cut them and pound them to obtain a pulp (this step helps to detach the starch from the fibrous components). Then wash the pulp and pass it through a sieve before drying it and grinding it into a powder.
“Except for particular allergies, there are no notorious contraindications to using arrowroot except perhaps the ethical aspect, since we are moving away from “local consumption”, says Alexandra Murcier.
‘Yes, this starch is authorized for pregnant women. There vitamin B12 it contains is even beneficial for the fetus : it participates in its development and helps to prevent a congenital malformation”, underlines Alexandra Murcier. A medical opinion will however be advised before taking it.
You will have understood, if the arrowroot powder is not very revolutionary, it has above all the merit of being with double advantages; gluten-free (in cooking) and exotic (in cosmetics). More than to try!
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