A Starch is a Starch

Actually it isn’t, but I liked the sound of that for the headline. Reader Mark asks:

In my local Asian food market I can find a few different starches (Corn, Potato, Tapioca) pretty easy, and it would seem to some extent starch is starch, but that also seems a bit naïve on my part to think of them all as inter-changeable. Are there texture, flavor, or other reasons why I’d want to use a corn vs. any other starch in pudding?

Hey Mark! A very interesting question. There are quite a lot of starches that can be used as thickeners and all of them are a little different from one another. Cornstarch (corn flour) is a common one for pudding because it’s so readily available and can handle some boiling before the “gel” starts to dissolve. Cornstarch-thickened mixtures also hold their thickness after being frozen, though acid can inhibit it’s ability to thicken.