Definition: Arrowroot is a powdery, highly digestible starch that is commonly used in cooking throughout the Caribbean. The plant, which is considered an herb, is native to the Caribbean and thrives in the tropical climate. The starch comes from the rhizomes of the Maranta arundinacea plant. St. Vincent and Jamaica are the main producers of the arrowroot starch.
The name, arrowroot, comes from the indigenous Caribbean people and the manner in which they used the plant to treat wounds from poisoned arrows.
Also, because of its digestibility, the starch was used medicinally in Victorian times to wean infants from mother’s milk and nourish those with dietary restrictions. Arrowroot starch also makes an excellent substitute for talcum powder in cosmetics and it was once used in the paper making industry.
Gastronomically speaking, arrowroot is gluten free. It’s an excellent substitute for cornstarch and flour as a thickening agent in sauces, gravies, pie fillings, and puddings. Arrowroot starch is neutral tasting and tolerates acidic ingredients, such as citrus. The starch also freezes well and dissolves well at lower temperatures. In fact, it must be cooked over low heat as it doesn’t endure high temperature cooking and does not reheat well. Also, arrowroot does not do well in milk-based cream sauces (it changes the texture), but bakes well in cakes, cookies and biscuits made with milk.
Also Known As: obedience plant
Alternate Spellings: arrow root