Potato Starch vs Potato Flour: What's the Difference?
Those on a gluten-free diet may be familiar with potato starch and potato flour, but there's a lot more to them than meets the eye. One is the secret to ultra-crispy, deep-fried foods, and the other to long-lasting yeast breads. Here's everything you need to know before you hit the baking aisle.
How Is Potato Starch Made?
Potato starch starts with washed and peeled raw potatoes. Using high-speed machinery, the starch is extracted from the potatoes, then dried. The result is a very fine, white powder, resembling cornstarch. Potato starch may also be produced as a by-product of processed potato foods, such as French fries or even potato chips.
What Is Potato Starch Used For?
Use it in place of cornstarch when deep frying foods, as it has a high-temperature endurance and gives a crisper result. Try sprinkling it on dinner rolls to keep them from going stale as quickly, or use it to dust the counter when rolling dough or fondant.
How Is Potato Flour Made?
Potato flour, like potato starch, starts with whole potatoes, but this is where their similarities end. The potatoes are cooked, dried, and ground into a fine powder. The result is a powder that's more beige in color, similar in appearance to whole-wheat flour.
Potato flour is of course much higher in nutritional value than starch. Plus it's rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, making it a healthier, gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. It does have a much stronger potato flavor than potato starch.
What Is Potato Flour Used For?
Potato flour can be used in conjunction with other types of flour (such as rice flour), for gluten-free baking. However we don't recommend using it as the sole flour because it holds a lot of moisture and can result in a too-dense, gummy baked good.
But potato flour's ability to absorb moisture is also its strength: Add a small amount to yeast bread to help retain the freshness of the bread.
Like other flours, potato flour makes an excellent thickening or binding agent. Try using it in breading for meat - you'll get a crisper result than you would with wheat flour. It can also help to enhance the potato flavor in potato dishes as well, like potato rolls.
You can find potato flour at the supermarket or online from popular retailers such as Bob's Red Mill.
Can You Use Them Interchangeably?
Not really. The one exception is if you're using potato flour for the purpose of extending the shelf-life of yeast breads, potato starch can be substituted. It's not a one-to-one ratio, however. Potato flour is mostly starch, but not all, so you'll want to use slightly less potato starch than you would flour (a ¾:1 potato starch to potato flour ratio). Otherwise, there are better substitutes for potato starch and flour that we'll go over below.
Substitutes for Potato Starch
Starches are a lot easier to substitute for than flour. Here are some common substitutes and ratios:
- Cornstarch: Use one tablespoon of cornstarch for every one tablespoon of potato starch.
- Tapioca Starch: Use two tablespoons of tapioca starch for every one tablespoon of potato starch.
- Arrowroot Powder: Use one tablespoon of arrowroot powder for every one tablespoon of potato starch.
Substitutes for Potato Flour
The best substitute for potato flour is going to be potato flakes, which is essentially potato flour that hasn't been ground as fine. You can either dissolve it into batter for baking, or use a blender or food process to grind it into a fine powder. Potato flakes can be substituted for potato flour using a 1:1 ratio.
If you're using potato flour as a thickener, you can substitute two tablespoons of tapioca flour for every one tablespoon of potato flour.
For gluten-free baking, try this all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.