Binding – The Natural Methods

The binding agents in the supermarket, which generally come in a powdered form with a few additives, work wonders, but for those who prefer a more natural method for binding sauces, there are a lot of options. In addition to this, knowing exactly what you are stirring into your food can bring about a certain peace of mind. With a simple binding agent made from starchy ingredients such as potatoes, corn or wheat, you can quickly achieve a bit more consistency. The classic binder made from flour is almost always successful, even for beginners.

FOOBY Tip FOOBY Tip

If using starch, dissolve the desired amount in a bit of water and stir well. While stirring, slowly add the liquid to the sauce to prevent any lumps from forming. If using egg yolk, do not cook the sauce any further once the egg yolk has been added. Simply mix it together with water beforehand and add it to the sauce at the end.

Binding – The Classics

Cornstarch works similarly to the supermarket binding agents – a large proportion of which consists of cornstarch. Adding cornstarch directly into sauces will cause lumps to form immediately. Depending on the amount of liquid, use one or two teaspoons of cornstarch to slowly adjust the consistency. The advantage of cornstarch is that it is neutral in taste and requires little further cooking.

Another classic binding agent is a roux. For this, simply melt some butter, stir in some flour until thick and add it to the sauce. You can also let this butter and flour mixture cool down and add it to the sauce at a later point. For a slight variation to this method, knead some flour into some butter with a fork, and add this to the sauce.

The disadvantage to binding with flour is the floury taste that sometimes occurs. If you boil the sauce for a further 15 minutes after you add the flour, then the taste will disappear.

Binding – Desserts

Gelatin is not your only option for thickening desserts such as fruit dishes, puddings or crèmes:

·         Sago is mostly used for the sweet fruit dish known as Rote Grütze. The small balls of starch need to be cooked for a while until they           become soft and clear – they never dissolve completely.

·         Locust bean gum does not require heat for binding and is therefore suited to cold dishes.

·         Agar-agar can be boiled and liquefied again and again and gelatinises upon cooling. This binding agent allows you to correct the               consistency as often as you like.

Binding – The Alternatives

There are other options aside from egg, flour, butter and cornstarch. If you are looking for alternatives – due to allergies, food intolerance, or diet requirements – try the following binding agents:

·         Plantains and apples can be formed into a mousse or puree and stirred into a sauce. This lends itself especially well to certain Asian           dishes.

·         Together with the sauce, blend a few potatoes, carrots, or other vegetables that may feature in the meal. 

·         Adding cream, butter, crème fraiche or yoghurt can make sauces creamier.

·         Ground oat flakes, yeast flakes or almond flakes can also be used.

One of the most simple but effective solutions is letting the sauce reduce down. The sauce will naturally become thicker and more flavourful.

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