There’s nothing worse than watery, colorless food. Food that hasn’t been thickened properly lacks flavor, and its texture is often less than appealing: more than enough to ruin an otherwise fantastic meal! There are lots of ways to add texture to your cuisine, and not all of them are as healthy as others. To ensure that you can rely on healthier methods, keep reading.
#1 Let it reduce
The easiest method of all is simply to allow foods like stews and soups to reduce. This means taking the lid off the pan, pot, or slow cooker and allowing some of the liquid to evaporate away. Slow cooker enthusiasts are particularly fond of this method and will often turn the crockpot up to high at the end of cooking. Another advantage of this is that it intensifies the flavor.
#2 Use cornflower
Cornflower is a Godsend for most cooks. Its fine texture and flavorless nature make it the perfect thickener for everything from soups to stews. Simply add a tablespoon or two of cornflower to any dish, stir, and your food will be instantly thicker. Due to its thinness, cornflower doesn’t become stodgy or congeal like other flours, so there won’t be any unpleasant lumps in your meal.
#3 Add instant food thickener
Instant food thickeners like Simply Thick are an excellent and convenient solution to make your food thicker. They’re easy to add and can simply be stirred into the mixture for instant results. Better still, they’re tasteless, odorless, and textureless, so they won’t affect the food in any way (apart from making it thicker). You can find instant food thickeners in most supermarkets and specialist cookery shops. Thickeners tend to be low in salt and fat, making them excellent choices.
#4 Egg yolk
Egg yolk won’t work in every scenario because it will (obviously) alter how your food tastes. Nonetheless, it’s a popular choice and with good reason. Egg yolk is an excellent thickener, so much so that you’ll normally only need one. Separate yolk from white and then simply stir in and put the dish back on the heat. Eggs are rich in protein and, if enjoyed in moderation, have an excellent nutrition profile, so you don’t need to worry about adding a yolk to something like a stew.
Arrowroot works in exactly the same way as corn starch and cornflour but for one crucial difference. It doesn’t need high heat to dissolve and can, therefore, be used to thicken dishes that require only a gentle simmer. Arrowroot is inexpensive and gluten-free. It’s tasteless and odorless, too, so use it exactly as you would cornflour.
Butter’s unhealthy reputation isn’t fully justified, and a single knob of butter will work wonders for thickening any dish you can think of. More than that, butter alters texture, giving food a glossy, silken look reminiscent of haute cuisine. Butter should, of course, be used in moderation, but if you want to add a touch of luxury to your finished dish, then you can’t go wrong.