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A Kernel of Truth: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Cornstarch and Cornmeal

Corn. It’s not just for summer barbecues anymore. Derivatives of this large-grain plant have long been used in baking, but how much do you really know about cornstarch and cornmeal? Here are 10 fun facts.

  1. Cornstarch is made from the endosperm of the corn, found at the center of a corn kernel. These endosperms are ground into a fine white powder.
  2. Cornstarch is flavorless after it’s been cooked.
  3. Cornstarch is gluten-free and contains very little saturated fat or cholesterol. It is predominantly a carbohydrate and, obviously, quite starchy.
  4. Looking for crumbly texture? Cornstarch is the ticket. It also can give your baked goods more moisture and heft.
  5. Looking to thicken recipes? This is what cornstarch does best. It thickens up your recipes a lot more than flour and appears clear in liquids.
  6. Worried about the fact that cornstarch is a processed starch? In all things, moderation. A tablespoon or two isn’t anything to be concerned about, but if you want some healthier alternatives, try arrowroot or tapioca.
  7. Cornmeal is made by grinding sweet corn into a fine powder, also called corn flour.
  8. It comes in a rainbow of colors (well, almost: white, yellow and blue) depending on the color of the corn.
  9. Extremely versatile, cornmeal is ideal for giving all manner of baked good a crumbly texture.
  10. It’s possible to make your own cornmeal by grinding popcorn in a high-end blender.