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I'm trying to thicken a heat-sensitive mixture. I would like to use cornstarch as a thickener, but from my understanding, cornstarch must be heated to near-boiling (95 deg C) to gel in a mixture. I would like to avoid heating the whole mixture to boiling. If I make a cornstarch slurry, heat it to boiling, and then add it to a cold or room-temperature mixture, will it still have a thickening effect?

I would prefer to avoid other thickening alternatives like xanthan gum or arrowroot.

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    Why do you want to avoid arrowroot? It works well for this sort of thing. – Chris H Apr 6 '17 at 11:29
  • What exactly are you thickening? ... some thickeners have issues with acids or dairy. And how thick do you need it? If you can warm it enough and it's not acidic or containing certain fruits, gelatin might work for you – Joe Apr 6 '17 at 11:36
  • Is the whole mixture heat sensitive, or is there maybe a component that's less so, which you could heat with the cornstarch? – Cascabel Apr 6 '17 at 15:21
  • Avoiding arrowroot for now because I want to see if this could be possible with cornstarch. This is a dairy mixture. I could definitely heat it with the cornstarch, but I'm finding it changes the flavor profile when I do, so I'm wondering if there are other options. – Josh Apr 6 '17 at 16:13
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It would probably work but for the proper consistency of the finished product, your cooked cornstarch slurry would need to be very thick. This would make it difficult to mix into a homogenized smooth mixture unless you were to use a blender to mix them.

Rather than cornstarch, xanthan gum or arrowroot flour, why not use tapioca powder/flour? It thickens quickly starting around 140°F (60°C) and gives a nice clear gel, especially nice for fruit desserts. It also holds its gelling property and won't separate like cornstarch based desserts can.

I buy my tapioca flour in an Asian grocery store but I've also seen it sold in the Asian foods aisle in many larger supermarkets. It's quite inexpensive.

You substitute the same amount of tapioca flour as cornstarch in a recipe.

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