What’s arrowroot and why are we using it?

What’s arrowroot and why are we using it?
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Around Muirhead, we’re making Fruit Spreads these days, in addition to our normal offerings of canned and bottled fruit.  We chose to make fruit spreads rather than jam for a few different reasons, most of which are specifically related to health concerns of pectin, but also because of the way Arrowroot thickens, cooks, bakes, and bar-b-ques up.

Most jams and jellies on the market are made with pectin.  Where this is a great thickener, it has it’s disadvantages.  Pectin these days isn’t just pectin; it’s several ingredients in that little box.  In fact, Dextrose is listed as the first ingredient on many of the main sources of pectin that you can purchase in the store.  Not pectin.  Dextrose.  Dextrose is the name given to glucose produced from corn.  Most corn grown in the United States is genetically modified to resist insects or herbicides.  Drugs.com says that dextrose can interact poorly with medications and that newborns & women who are pregnant or nursing shouldn’t ingest it.  It goes on to say that those who are diabetic shouldn’t nutritional data arrowrootingest it, either.  (Of course, this information is for “pure” dextrose.)  But wow!  That sounds like some scary stuff!  Why are we eating it again??

pectin

If you’ve never looked at the ingredients on a box of pectin, this is what you’ll see. DEXTROSE as the first ingredient!

That really got us to thinking, since we’re so very conscious of producing great food.  We researched and discovered that arrowroot is still pure arrowroot, it’s not GMO,  and works fantastically well for thickening jams and jellies, but because there’s no pectin (and therefore no dextrose), the final product is called a Fruit Spread.

Aside from health concerns, when you cook, bake, and bar-b-que with a product made with arrowroot, you don’t get that funny “gummy bear skin” on your meats and other culinary delights, so it’s got a leg up in the food awesomeness category!

 

Here’s a little bit about arrowroot, from a more cerebral point of view:

Uses:- Arrowroot has a large number of culinary uses. It is used in sauces, biscuits, jellies, cakes, puddings, fruit pie fillings, and glazes as a thickening agent. It is also used as a replacement for corn starch. Arrowroot powder can also be used in place of flour. It is also used for making shimmering fruit gels. Arrowroot is used to prevent the formation of ice crystals in home-made ice creams.

The arrowroot powder is deficient in gluten, so it can be used as a replacement of wheat flour for baking purposes. There are many health benefits of arrowroot. Some of these include:

  • The mashed rhizomes of arrow root are used on septic wounds, and scorpion and black spider bites as it draws out the poison from the injured area.
  • Arrowroot is also traditionally used to cure gangrene.
  • It is a powerful antidote for vegetable poisons.
  • Arrowroot is very useful in aiding digestion and helps to regulate bowel movement.
  • Arrowroot powder mixed with water is cooled into a jelly like substance that is used for weaning infants.
  • It is used in the treatment of smallpox. It is widely used as a medicine by people having dietary restrictions.

Benefits of Arrowroot Arrowroot is a very popularly used herb, which is often confused with another herb known as arrowhead. This herb is known by many different names in the different parts of the world. Some of these names are arrowroot cookie, bamboo tuber, obedience plant, East Indian arrowroot, St. Vincent arrowroot, and reed arrowroot.Arrowroot is actually not a specific plant. Any plant that belongs to the genus Maranta is usually known as arrowroot. However, in the more common usage, the term arrowroot is usually used to describe the starch that is most easily digested. This starch is produced in the rhizomes of the plant. There are many other plants that produce a similar starch; however, it is the uses of arrowroot starch that the world is most familiar with.

Queensland arrowroot, Florida arrowroot, and Brazilian arrowroot are some of the other arrowroot plants that produce a starch similar to that produced by the Maranta arundinacea, which is known as the true arrowroot and which is the real source of all the benefits of arrowroot starch.

The name arrowroot has been literally derived from the popular ancient Indian use of the herb as an antidote to the poisoned-tipped arrows that were used to kill in battle. In the Caribbean, arrowroot plant is a dietary staple, and thus, the name may also have originated from the phrase aru-aru, which means meal of meals.

Sources:
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/arrowroot.html
http://blog.morethanalive.com/arrowroot-powder-and-its-benefits
http://www.drugs.com/cdi/dextrose.html
http://www.diethealthclub.com/health-food/arrow-root-health-benefits.html
http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipes/healthy/types-of-sugar-0921
http://www.just-health.net/What-Is-Dextrose.html
http://modernhealthmonk.com/natural-sweeteners-sugar-myth