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Thread: Primal liquid-thickening agents page

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    zincfinger's Avatar
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    Primal liquid-thickening agents

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    I apologize if this has been thoroughly covered already. But as you all know, traditional, non-primal recipes for stews, gravies, and such that have a thickened sauce typically call for wheat flour or corn starch as the liquid thickener. What do you typically use as a thickening agent if you want to keep your sauce or gravy primal? Filé powder? Okra? Purified fruit pectin? Something else? Are the results with these substitutions similar, in terms of consistency/viscosity? Or do you just invoke the 80% compromise and use a couple tablespoons of flour? Or, alternatively, do you just adjust your taste to non-thickened gravy?

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    Time. If the suace is based on a good gelatinous stock, boiling will thicken it. Or use egg yolk, it's a bit tricky and you need to be careful tempering it, but awesome and rich.

    ETA - I usually don't bother with the egg, I've learned over the years that stew is just fine a little thinner.

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    Tapioca starch or arrowroot powder; white rice flour if you eat rice. A few teaspoons of starch isn't a big deal for most people that don't eat super low carb.
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    Arrowroot probably works best for sauces. It makes a clearer sauce than flour, and doesn't absorb the excess fat like flour does, but it works pretty well. It is a starch tho.

    A couple of nights ago I used heavy cream to thicken a pot roast gravy -- about 1/3 cup or more of heavy whipping cream and stir and simmer as the volume reduces and the sauce thickens somewhat. Worked great.

    Other thickeners I've used are xanthan gum and agar, but you need to mess around with them to figure out where they work best. You can also try Knox Gelatin -- basically the same stuff you cook out of bones making bone broth. You can also make you own jello with Knox, some sweetner and some fruit juice -- still juice, but a little fresh-squeezed lemon or lime can make a refreshing and more paleo version of Jello Brand jello. I use stevia as a sweetner as I try to avoid any sugars, including honey.
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    I bought some candlenuts and read that they can be used to thicken. Haven't done it yet, but I likely will soon since it is getting cooler out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkd2001 View Post
    ...Other thickeners I've used are xanthan gum and agar, but you need to mess around with them to figure out where they work best...
    Agar, huh? I've used that in a laboratory environment, making Petri dishes to plate out bacteria, but I'm a little surprised that it's sold in a grocery/cooking context. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I've never seen it in any grocery store I've been to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zincfinger View Post
    Agar, huh? I've used that in a laboratory environment, making Petri dishes to plate out bacteria, but I'm a little surprised that it's sold in a grocery/cooking context. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I've never seen it in any grocery store I've been to.
    I see agar flakes in the Asian section of natural food stores. It's very expensive! Almost $8 for a few ounces.
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    I use xantham gum as my go-to thickener, but it does take some experimentation (immersion blender works well). It's very versatile stuff, just a light dusting can be enough to emulsify a oil/vinegar dressing, thicken a sauce, or improve the mouthfeel of something that's normally thickened with reduced sugar. From a Primal standpoint its rather processed, and often produced from corn, but when your talking about using 1/8th tsp instead of tablespoons of sugar, flour or cornstarch its a no-brainer

    agar agar is often found as both a powder and in bricks/sticks/flakes in ethnic markets or the asian section of some grocery stores (dyed blocks are common in filipino cuisine) It behaves sorta like gelatin, but without the 'wiggle' and can harden at room temp. It may seem expensive, but keep in mind how much packages of Jello cost when there may only be 10g of gelatin inside.

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    +1 on the tapioca flour, you can replace cornstarch-thickener with tapioca and its more stable and makes a nice shiny sauce. If I braise something (i.e. potroast), I just blenderize cooked onions with the juices and it makes a nice thick gravy.
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    Tapioca starch, potato starch, xanthan gum. Even corn starch isn't that bad IMO. I doubt you'll notice a tablespoon and it's pretty clean complex carbohydrate. I tend to use xanthan gum.
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