Q.

What is a Slurry?

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A.

A slurry is a method for incorporating starches or flours into simmering liquids without clumping.

Starches and flours thicken by “gelating” – their granules swell (trapping water) and leak starches into the surrounding liquid.  This is what makes gravy thick & gives cherry pie filling its luxurious silky texture.  Different starches gelate in different ways at different temperatures, but clumping is often a potential.

Clumping happens when the starch added to hot liquid (soup, sauces, etc) gelates around a core of dry starch, trapping it and preventing it from properly distributing into a liquid (for example – cornstarch turning into tiny balls in a pie filling).

Cooks use several methods to prevent this, one of which is the slurry – where they combine the starch with a small amount of cold liquid and shake or vigorously whisk to combine.  Then the mixture (with the dissolved starch) is added to the liquid to be thickened.  This way the starch molecules are properly distributed so they thicken normally instead of forming clumps.

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