A: A starch is the part of the plant where its energy is stored in the form of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are made up of long chains of glucose molecules. Since glucose is one of the main energy sources in biology, the plant stores it in this very condensed form to save space. The most common sources of starch used in food processing are corn, sorghum, rice, potato, or cassava (tapioca).
Starch from various sources contain different ratios of these long-chain glucose molecules called amylose and amylopectin. The ratio of amylose to amylopectin can affect the functionality of the starch for use in different food applications.
A: Managing moisture is one of the primary functions of starch in foods. Below are examples of common applications in food products:
A: The term “native” refers to starch in its un-modified form. Most native starches can be used in “natural” or “clean label” product formulations.
A: The term “modified” refers to physical or chemical modifications that are made to improve the performance of a starch from its native form. Modified food starches are often more stable and optimized for use in a wider range of temperatures, pH, and processing conditions. Modified starches are not typically used in natural product formulations (as per USDA), and may or may not be used in “clean label” products.
There are dozens of different food starches that are tailored to work in a variety of different applications.
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