The same process would be used for the first three, and another somewhat different process for the last, which also will yield seitan, a vegan, gluten based meat substitute.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes/yams, or yuca/cassava/manioc
Food processor or grater
A few large bowls or jugs
A wide, flat container or a baking tray
Coffee grinder (optional)
1. Grate your potatoes, sweet potatoes, or yuca on the smaller grater holes in your grater/grating attachment on your food processor (if you have more than one size- if not, just use whatever size you have).
2. Mix your grated root veggies with a lot of water. I used 6 medium sized potatoes for my batch that I recently made and used about 3 or 4 cups of water. Exactly how much you use doesn’t matter so much- the more the better.
3. Swish and squeeze your grated root veggies into the water, trying to release as much starch into the water as possible. This won’t take a while- it just needs 10-15 seconds or so.
4. Let the root veggies sit in the water for about another minute or two.
5. Strain your root veggies, reserving the water. Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the root veggies as possible.
6. Now you no longer need the grated root veggies and can use them to make hash browns or casseroles or similar things. I used my grated potatoes with the starch squeezed out to make hash browns by mixing it with onions, garlic, and salt, and letting it fry covered on a low heat, in my greased cast iron skillet for some time, flipping it over, then serving. I haven’t tried this with sweet potatoes or yucca, but google tells me you can make hash browns with both of them as well.
7. Take the water you reserved in step 5, put it in a tall jug or other deep container, and let settle for some time. About 20 minutes should be ok, but I didn’t time it. You’ll be able to see a bunch of white sludge at the bottom of your jug.
8. Pour off the brownish or orange-ish or clearish liquid from the jug, making sure not to mix it or shake it, reserving the sludge at the bottom. This liquid can be used in soups or similar.
9. Mix your sludge with a bunch of new water, then let it settle down again for another 20 minutes or more.
10. Pour off your water carefully (reserving it if desired) and the sludge you have left will be clean potato or tapioca or sweet potato starch.
Well, wet starch anyhow.
11. You can use your wet starch immediately as a thickener for soups, stews, sauces, puddings, whatever… Or you can dry it to be used in recipes that require powdered starch, like crackers or gluten free flour mix, or whatever. You can also mix it with things like Spice N Tice Italian seasoning to make a gluten free coating for chicken shnitzel.
12. To dry it, lay out your sludge on a lined baking tray or in a wide container, and leave on the counter to dry for 24 hours or so. It should become dry and crackly.
13. Break up your dried starch with a fork or a whisk or whatever you want. It’ll still probably be somewhat clumpy, but sticking it in a coffee grinder or food processor will make your starch powdery and pretty indistinguishable from store bought starch.
If you want to know quantities- when I made potato starch out of 6 slightly larger than golf ball sized potatoes (a mix of white and red potatoes) I got around 1/4 cup potato starch. The different varieties of potatoes and sweet potatoes will make different amounts of starch depending on the variety- yuca will make a large quantity of tapioca starch.
Homemade Seitan and Wheat Starch Recipe
Unbleached all purpose white flour
1. Mix unbleached all purpose white flour with water, enough so that you have decently firm dough. Knead it well.
2. Fill a big bowl with water, put your dough in the water, and let sit for about 12 hours, to let the gluten strands develop.
3. Knead the dough under the water. The purpose of this is to separate the starch from the gluten. The starch will go into the water, making it white, and a greyish tan sticky gluten mass will remain behind. Knead for about 5 minutes, then pour off the water and reserve it.
4. Fill the bowl with new water, and knead some more, trying to rinse as much of the starch out as possible.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4, reserving the water each time, until the water stays clear when the flour is kneaded in it.
6. Let the water sit in a few large jugs, and the starch will settle down to the bottom.
7. Pour off the water and the white sludge that remains at the bottom will be your wet starch. To dry it, follow steps 11 and on from the instructions in the recipe above.
8. The grey/tan mass left behind is your seitan, which you can cook in a bunch of different ways so that it mimics meat; seasoning it then simmering it in a soy sauce based broth is the most standard preparation method. I’ve elaborated on ways to cook seitan in this post, and I have a whole category on my blog with a bunch of seitan recipes and cooking methods so feel free to check them out.
Just a word of warning- I probably was gluten sensitive my whole life, but eating a bunch of seitan probably made my gluten sensitivity peak to the extent that now I can’t even eat things that touched gluten- so just keep that in mind.
If you’re completely not gluten sensitive, feel free to use seitan as part of your larger diet (I don’t recommend a seitan heavy diet) to save money and/or for morality reasons if you’re vegan/vegetarian.
So- homemade starch- a fun project, a money saver if you can get the raw ingredients cheaply or grow them yourself, and a good way to ensure you are using only wholesome ingredients if you don’t trust anything white and prepackaged at the grocery store.
Are you a starch user? What type of starch do you generally use? How do you tend to use it?
Do you think you would ever make homemade starch? If so, which kind do you think you’d be most likely to make?
If you’re not gluten free, have you ever had seitan? Ever made it? Does it look like something you’d try?
And… just a heads up- for my gluten free readers, I am actually experimenting with a homemade gluten free mock seitan, so… just wait and you too will have a yummy vegan meat alternative to use. 😀