Whether you are researching food thickening agents for yourself or a close friend or loved one, and whatever the reason may be that you require thickening agents to be added to your food and drinks, it can often be somewhat bamboozling when confronted with a myriad of different products and equipment packed full on the shelves of the local store.
Food thickening agents are absolutely necessary to some and more of an optional extra to others, but whatever your motivation, continue reading for a comprehensive guide to what they are and how they are used.
What Exactly is a Food Thickening Agent?
Food thickening agents, more commonly referred to as ‘thickeners’, are substances that one adds to a mixture to adjust the consistency of liquids while at the same time not changing the taste or any other element.
Affordable, renowned, and incredibly popular products such as Simply Thick beverage thickener can make a real difference to a person’s enjoyment and management of their meal, especially if they are living with dysphagia or a similar swallowing-related problem.
Types Of Food Thickening Agent
In terms of conventional food thickening agents that are not specifically tailor-made for people suffering from dysphagia, the most commonly used thickening agent is all-purpose flour. Other common types of food thickening agents include tapioca, arrowroot, and cornstarch.
Agar-agar is made from red algae and comes in the form of a substance that appears exactly like jelly. Agar-agar is exceedingly common amongst vegetarians and vegans as it acts as a fantastic substitution for gelatin. Arrowroot is found in a wide variety of plants located in the tropics and is both flavorless and colorless, with more than double the thickening power of all-purpose flour.
Cornstarch, one of the other most popular food thickening agents, is both vegan and gluten-free and is perhaps the most versatile of them all. Cornstarch is completely transparent and has virtually no flavor identity of its own, which is why it is used in both savory meals and sweet desserts.
Food Thickening Agents in Cooking
Aside from the helpful benefits that food thickening agents provide for those people who have problems chewing and swallowing, food thickening agents are a fantastic addition in cooking, and many professional chefs use them in a variety of different meals and for food preparation.
The most common food thickening agent to be found in a normal and everyday kitchen is all-purpose flour.
Flour is absolutely perfect for thickening a wide variety of meals and dishes, namely soups, stews, creams, and gravies, and when you use all-purpose flour, it is worth noting that the final meal will be either cloudy or creamy in color. When one uses cornstarch to act as a food thickening agent, it has more of a sleek and shiny result which is why it is best used in desserts and sweets. If you use flour and subsequently choose to place your finished meal in the fridge, it is likely to get even thicker.