Tiffany Perez

Thickening Agents

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Hi all - so I've really struggled to find an appropriate thickening agent that is compliant.  I've tried almond, coconut, and potato flour - I've tried them individually and I've tried to kinda mix and match them to work appropriately and (frankly) it just tics me off.  All of them have either a flavor and/or texture that doesn't work.  Or they just don't work period.  I've not tried arrowroot or tapioca - but have heard that they are gelatinous - which I won't like either.

 

I'm not a "replacements" person - cauliflower rice is not rice, spaghetti squash is not pasta, etc.  When I say I want a thickening agent I want something that functionally will replace flour or corn starch.

 

Is this an endeavor I should just give up on or does anyone know of a functional thickening agent?

 

Thanks

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I think it depends on your definition of 'functional'.  I use arrowroot and tapioca but yes without being very careful, you can end up with something a bit gelatinous... the nut flours are not going to work the same because they'll always be gritty due to the fact they're ground up nuts... 

Maybe someone will have a great idea but each thing is going to have its own properties and none of them are going to line up to flour or cornstarch.

What is it you're using it for?  Maybe that'll help with suggestions.

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I liked the texture of a stir fry I made using arrowroot and I didn’t feel like it changed the taste much, if it all.

I definitely recommend trying that or tapioca starch! My favorite Paleo blogger also appears to use one of the two in gravy recipes...

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Most things can be cooked longer to reduce them. Let it simmer, stirring it occasionally. The flavors will concentrate, so you may want to not add as much salt and spices as you normally would. Here's some general tips on reducing sauces:  https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/how-to-make-a-reduction -- obviously you can't add the butter as suggested in one step, and I don't really know if adding ghee would have the same effect. And the recipes linked are probably not Whole30 compliant, though I didn't actually click through and look. And while this specifically talks about sauces, you can do the same for soups or stews. It does take longer, but you might be happier with the results if you don't find a thickener that works for you.

The other thing I'd suggest, if you haven't already, is find some recipes that are Whole30 compliant that are similar to whatever you want to make, and see how they do it.  For instance, here's a  chicken and gravy recipe that's good:  https://nomnompaleo.com/post/4807547385/slow-cooker-roast-chicken-and-gravy, or here's a stew recipe: http://meljoulwan.com/2014/04/02/slow-cooker-osso-buco-stew/  or just google Whole30 plus whatever you're wanting to make. Odds are, someone out there has already made it, so you might as well take advantage of their knowledge rather than redoing stuff they probably already tried and decided didn't work well.

 

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I'm also having issues with finding a balance for a thickening agent using coconut or almond flour.  My local store doesn't carry arrowroot or tapioca.  I use thickeners mostly for soups, sauces, etc.  So far, I've tried pairing the coconut flour thickener with things that would go well with the flavor and same with almond flour.  I also have taken to sifting both using a small handheld sifter for when I just need a couple of tablespoons which helps with the gritty texture sometimes.  It can also make a difference if I make a "slurry" using cold water.

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I like tapioca flour the best- it takes very little and is most like corn starch. And yes, if you use too much it is somewhat gelatinous. I usually start with about a tablespoon mixed with a tablespoon of cold water. Most of my local supermarkets have it including Walmart. Good luck!

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I just cook everything down more :) If I make a stew or recipe with meat, once the meat is cooked through I take it out and just cook down the sauce.  Things are only runny because of excess water - so cook off the water.

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On 10/2/2018 at 12:49 PM, littleg said:

I just cook everything down more :) If I make a stew or recipe with meat, once the meat is cooked through I take it out and just cook down the sauce.  Things are only runny because of excess water - so cook off the water.

This. 

Its technically more liquid but sometimes for a thicker creamier taste I use coconut cream in place of water or broth. 

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On 8/9/2018 at 7:45 PM, Tiffany Perez said:

Thanks for the response.  It's helpful.  I don't have a specific recipe in mind - in general - gravy, stews, etc.

I know you don't want a "replacement" that's  not like the original thing. But....my girlfriend made the most amazing brown gravy this way: put a bunch of chopped carrot, onion and cauliflower into the pan with whatever meat you are roasting. When teh meat is done, take the pan drippings (plus compliant beef/chicken broth if not enough liquid) and then blend that all together with the super-soft roasted veggies plus some salt and pepper. It is amazing and you would never know it's not a flour-thickened gravy.

For soups, my husband wants them thick enough to walk on so I always make with just the barest amount of liquid (ie, just enough to barely cover the pot contents and then cook until done). Also, I always, always use red potatoes because they seem to have the highest starch content and so naturally make the soup or stew thicker.

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If folks are looking for a brown gravy recipe, the one included with this meal is absolutely amazing: https://www.paleorunningmomma.com/paleo-salisbury-steak-meatballs-whole30/! My fiance, who is not doing Whole30 and who loves gravy, loves this recipe. 

When we make these salisbury steak meatballs, we double the gravy recipe so we can save a bunch for other meals for later! 

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