Why potato starch in comparison to other thickeners? I'll give you three reasons, and let's see if we can make a convert out of you too!
1. No Aftertaste: When mixed in to thicken a mixture you don't get that chalky, gritty, pasty aftertaste that you do with so many other thickeners. Always a bonus to know you can add a little extra and not alter the taste of your dish!
2. Inexpensive: Potato starch is no more expensive than cornstarch and although it can be found in the vegan/gluten free section at the health food store, if you head to an Asian market instead, you'll find large bags for less than $1!
3. Procrastinators Best Friend: Although many thicker stews and sauces start out with a roux base, potato starch can be added at the end of your cooking time instead of the beginning. In fact it does better that way and won't over-thicken. Because of this, you can make things a day or two in advance, or even freeze them without getting mealy. Once thawed, heat and then add your starch to thicken to your liking without your dish tasting like a science project.
Potato starch is a great add-in to have on hand and can really save the day when it comes to thicker stews, sauces and meals that need a little body to them. Although I still have other thickeners in my kitchen, I only use them when a recipe specifically calls for them. I always use potato starch as my main soup and stew thickener.
(Image: Bob's Red Mill)