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Old 04-30-2008, 10:54 AM   #1
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A question of food history

I was making a Russian dessert today called Kisel. It's a fruit puree thickened with some kind of starch. The recipe called for potato starch to be used.

I know that potatoes are a common ingredient in Russian/Ukrainian cuisine, but I'm not sure if a peasant would have had access to refined potato starch in the old days when Kisel was first created. So I wonder: without potato starch, what is the most likely thickening agent that would have been used?

Mike

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Old 04-30-2008, 11:21 AM   #2
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Leftover mashed potato?
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Old 04-30-2008, 11:24 AM   #3
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Since potatoes were not available in the Old World until the 16th century, as they're native to Mexico and South America, I would imagine wheat flour would have been used.
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Old 04-30-2008, 11:35 AM   #4
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All the recipes I see use a slurry of water and potato starch or corn starch.
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Old 05-01-2008, 08:42 PM   #5
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Potatoes were introduced to europe in 1700. The popularity increased and sped across both continents, including Russia.

Potato starch is another name for potato flour, which is just potato starch with a bit of water added. It was an easy enough process. Potatoes were grated to a fine size and all the liquid was removed. After that, it was dried and ground.

There is no reason to believe that any citizen couldn't afford flour, especially potato flour. It was an easire crop to grow there than wheat.
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Old 05-05-2008, 01:44 AM   #6
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Kisel/Kissel consists of a sweetened juice or milk, thickened with arrowroot, cornstarch, potato flour* rye, wheaten or oatmeal flour

Historical Information plus recipes: Moscow Restaurant Guide - Kissel
Kissel / TOP 10 Restoran.ru

FYI
* Potato Flour is cooked potato that is dried and then powdered. The equivalent is dehydrated mashed potatoes, to which you add water. It is not in the recipe to act like or replace traditional flour. It smells/tastes like potato, because it is potato. An easy equivalent is packet mashed potato mix that you buy in the supermarkets.

Problems occur when Potato Starch is called Potato Starch Flour, or just "potato flour". Because Potato Starch Flour is a mixture of both names, it can be confusing as to which product the recipe means. They work very differently in a recipe, and cannot be substituted for each other.
Potato Starch is the carbohydrate from the plant cell that is dissolved in hot water, dried and powdered. An equivalent is cornstarch. This is a non-gluten flour that can be in a recipe to act like, or replace, wheat flour. It is odourless and tasteless.

In Allergy-free cooking the distinction between the two is very important.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:38 PM   #7
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interesting! Thanks everyone.
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