Don’t be fooled just because potato starch and potato flour both have the word “potato” in them. They are made differently and serve different purposes when you use them in your gluten-free cooking. Read on for some potato starch/flour facts and tips, and advice on what to use if you need a substitute for potato starch or potato flour.
- Although potato starch and potato flour are different, potato starch flour and potato starch are the same thing (no, it is not just you—that is confusing!).
- Potato starch is made by removing the potato peel, then the potato is made into slurry, which is dehydrated to form the starch. Potato flour is made with the whole potato, including the skin. The potatoes may be cooked or left raw when they are dried then ground into flour. Lynn, from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures, has a nice article on the many features of potato starch.
- Potato starch is very fine, much like cornstarch. Potato flour is a heavy flour.
- Potato starch has a rather bland taste, which doesn’t taste overwhelmingly like potato. That makes it good for use in all kinds of recipes, even if you are cooking something sweet.
- Potato flour has a strong potato flavor.
- Potato starch is typically used to make gravies and sauces. It also makes baked goods light and fluffy.
- If you do use potato starch in a gravy or sauce, don’t let the liquid boil. This will make it harder for the liquid to thicken.
- Potato flour, if used correctly, is good for use in breads and rolls. However, it is not usually used as the main flour when baking, because the goods can often come out gummy and dense. If it is used in smaller amounts it works well to hold together what you are making, though. It absorbs a lot of liquid and works best in small amounts in gluten-free flour blends.
Again, even though the word “potato” is in both products, that doesn’t mean you can successfully substitute one for the other! Potato flour’s heavier weight and strong flavor means it doesn’t substitute well in recipes that call for potato starch—after all, they are really meant for different purposes. So what if you’re right in the middle of cooking and find that you are out of potato flour or starch?
For potato flour:
Unfortunately it is hard to make a generalization about what you can use if a recipe calls for potato flour but you don’t have any. It rather depends on what you are making. However, there are a few basic tips you can follow–
- The best way to make substitutions when baking gluten-free is by matching the weights of your ingredients.
- You may have to adjust the moisture in your recipes depending on the flour you use. This might take some experimentation on your part.
- If you just can’t seem to get that recipe right and your baked goods consistently come out gummy in the middle, your oven may not be getting as hot as it says it is. The degree of gumminess of what you make can also be determined by different flours—again, if you’re not happy with how your food is coming out, you might need to experiment.
For potato starch:
Starches don’t cause as much trouble as flours do! You have a few starches to choose from besides potato—cornstarch, tapioca, and arrowroot—and they are pretty much interchangeable when you are baking with them. Some even use dried potato flakes as a substitute for potato starch—yes, the kind in the box that you use when you want instant mashed potatoes.