Most people would recognise Arrowroot ‘Flour’ in the baking section of the supermarket. It is generally used to thicken sauces and gravies and is a staple in most baking pantries. With properties much like Corn Flour, it is interchangeable with (or even labelled as) Tapioca, which comes from the Cassava plant. But have you ever thought about where that soft powder comes from?
The hardy perennial Arrowroot plant (Canna Edulis) has glossy green leaves (great for animal fodder) and can grow up to 2m tall, but it’s what’s under the ground that is most important to us. The tubers, which form in the soil, are delicious to eat when they are small and white and make a nice change from potato, but once they grow large and brown, they have another use altogether.
Arrowroot ‘flour’ is actually a starch made from grinding the tubers and I’m pleased to say that here on The Ridge we quite easily extracted this starchy ‘flour’ from our own vibrant crop.
Once dug out of the soil, the rootstock was washed and peeled, then cut into small cubes. Next, we blended it with water to produce a thick pulp and tipped it into a large bowl and added more water. The ‘flour’ quickly settled to the bottom of the bowl, and we were able to drain the brown fibrous pulp off the top.
We continued this process, adding more water until it ran clear, then drained it all off. What was left was a wet, white ‘gloop’ that we poured into trays and left in the hot sun to dry.
A couple of hours later, we had that familiar soft powdery Arrowroot Flour, grown at home and free from the commercial pesticides, preservatives and anti-caking agents that can be found in many store-bought alternatives.