Arrowroot

12 Jul 2015
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The word Arrowroot is all too familiar to most of us, but what is Arrowroot? We found out that it is actually a starch. Here's some more information on the Arrowroot.
arrowroot

The word Arrowroot is all too familiar to most of us, but what is Arrowroot?  Arrowroot is the starch extracted from the rhizomes of the arrowroot plant. The plant is a perennial herb and its scientific name for the arrowroot is Maranta Arundinacea. It is mostly cultivated in the Caribbean Island of St Vincent and the Grenadines and is a major staple for many countries around the world and you know what, it is also found right here in Trinidad and Tobago.

What is Arrowroot?

Arrowroot, also known as arrowroot starch, arrowroot powder and arrowroot flouris a white powdery substance just like cornstarch but there is a distinct difference between the two.  The difference is that the rhizomes of the arrowroot plant is dug from the earth while cornstarch is made by hulling corn from the cob and their processes are also different.  The arrowroot plant is indigenous to the West Indies and its name was born from the Aborigines, also known as Arawaks, who used the powder to draw out toxins from those who were injured after being struck by poison-tipped arrows.  The arrowroot plant, which is tropical perennial, grows to a height of up to 6 ft (2 m) with clusters of long, thin stems and small cream-colored flowers that grow in pairs. The benefit is mainly that it is gluten free and people with other digestive disorders also find it very helpful.  During the ancient days people who suffered from a digestive order would be given a hot drink consisting of milk mixed with arrowroot and sugar and adults would have sherry or brandy added to theirs. Current research has shown that the arrowroot is very low in calories hence today it is quite popular with those who follow a low calorie diet. 

How is Arrowroot made?
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Arrowroot, also known as arrowroot starch, arrowroot powder and arrowroot flouris a white powdery substance just like cornstarch but there is a distinct difference between the two.  The difference is that the rhizomes of the arrowroot plant is dug from the earth while cornstarch is made by hulling corn from the cob and their processes are also different.  The arrowroot plant is indigenous to the West Indies and its name was born from the Aborigines, also known as Arawaks, who used the powder to draw out toxins from those who were injured after being struck by poison-tipped arrows.  The arrowroot plant, which is tropical perennial, grows to a height of up to 6 ft (2 m) with clusters of long, thin stems and small cream-colored flowers that grow in pairs. The benefit is mainly that it is gluten free and people with other digestive disorders also find it very helpful.  During the ancient days people who suffered from a digestive order would be given a hot drink consisting of milk mixed with arrowroot and sugar and adults would have sherry or brandy added to theirs. Current research has shown that the arrowroot is very low in calories hence today it is quite popular with those who follow a low calorie diet. 

Arrowroot Uses

The arrowroot has a number of uses and is still especially popular in culinary arts.  It is used as a thickener in recipes like sauces, gravies, puddings and jellies and is also used in cookies, biscuits and cakes. Unlike cornstarch or flour, arrowroot has a completely neutral taste and will not make your sauces turn cloudy.  It is also great for gluten-free baking; when baking with nut flours, adding one tablespoon of arrowroot starch to your recipes helps to make cakes, muffins and cookies lighter and softer.

As a thickener for sauces and stews, you can mix 2 tablespoons of arrowroot to a 1/4 cup of water. However, because arrowroot  breaks down more quickly than corn-starch the mixture should be added to your sauces and stews at the end so as not to subject it to high temperatures for too long.  Arrowroot has a neutral taste therefore, the flavour and colour of your food will not change.

My mother used the arrowroot powder as a cooling agent on my little brothers when they were babies.  The rashes will appear on the babies from time to time and instead of using Johnson’s baby powder, she would rub the arears with the arrowroot and the rashes would disappear in a day or two.  I used it on my children when they were babies as well as children growing up and it worked.

You can store arrowroot for a couple of years by simply placing it in an air tight container, away from direct heat or sunlight, when not in use.  To test whether the arrowroot is still potent enough to be effective, rub or crush a small amount in your hand, then taste and smell it; if the aroma is weak and the flavour is not so obvious the arrowroot should be replaced.

Try it!

The optimum daily dosage of arrowroot has not been established with any certainty due to the lack of sufficient medical research therefore, you should follow the directions on the package for proper use or consult your Medical Practitioner. 

Arrowroot is not known to be associated with any significant side effects when taken in the recommended dosages on the package however, to avoid constipation you should not take arrowroot with other medications or dietary supplements used to alleviate diarrhoea. 

If you are a Do It Yourself (DIY) enthusiast and decide to plant an arrowroot tree, you should first choose an area of your yard that is partially shady.  You can then visit your local plant shop and purchase one or two small trees along with some compost, which you can mix into your soil.  The hole can now be dig 4-6 inches deep and space the rhizomes12-15 inches apart with 2-3inches between rows.  Place the soil into the holes and be sure to water the plants.   Keeping the soil moist, in the early stages of growth is important and the rhizomesshould take about 14-30 days to sprout.  You will need to fertilize your plants with an organic fertilizer or compost about 14 weeks after planting and the fertilizer should be higher in phosphorous and potassium than nitrogen, as the addition of large amounts of nitrogen will promote leaf growth, detracting from the development of the edible rhizomes.

Enjoy your adventure.

 
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