Starches & their diverse functionality in Food Systems

Starches from different sources, even those extracted from less common corn varieties, offer a range of functionality and present several potential advantages. Starch and derivatives have emerged as the most promising environment friendly ingredients over the years, offering varied application benefits in both food & non-food industries. These cost-efficient functional ingredients tend to influence appearance, texture, taste and shelf life of the products.

We all want foods and beverages with great mouthfeel and taste, but don’t want to fill up with fat, calories and sugar. Product developers recognize that low-fat, high-fiber and low carbs are critical factors today for baked goods and snack formulations. Starches help manufacturers to address these challenges. Starch can be extracted from more than 50 types of plants and supports sauces, puddings, pie fillings and soups.
But no two starches are created equal, and that’s good for bakery and snack product developers seeking to differentiate their products and solve formulating problems. Food starches provide “go to” answers that address structure, moisture, shelf life, yield and even cost issues. And they make a crucial difference when preparing the gluten-free and clean-label products that attract so much consumer buzz these days.
Bakery and snack food formulators can choose among native and modified grade of starch as well as pregelatinized styles.

Native Starches

Food starches come from many sources, but the most common are cereal grains (wheat, corn, rice),
tubers (potato, tapioca) and legumes (pea). Plants form starches to store energy for later use, but they do so in different ways — hence, the functional differences between them. Native starches are untreated and include corn (dent or field corn, waxy maize, high amylose), potato and tapioca. These native starch are allowed for use in food, but the range of chemically modified starches is restricted for food use. The use of native starch from plants is on the rise, as food developers and manufacturers replicate the properties and functions of wheat for gluten-free
applications, which hasn’t always been easy to do.
The functionality of native starch varies from heavy bodied pastes (corn) to high viscosity, long texture, creamy consistency and low temperature stability (waxy maize). Native starch are most suitable for products that are freshly prepared and used without prolonged storage. Native starch offered in purified but not otherwise modified form, differ in the way they work in baked foods and snacks. In snacks, native starches offer various features and functionalities, depending on the base material. Native maize starch hold the ability to provide expansion and texture control, uniform surface characteristics, structural stability and increased crunchiness.

Native starch also differ in how they thicken and texturize fillings, toppings and glazes. Different grades of starch can also enhance shear resistance, as well as acid and heat stability in varying degrees.
There’s a taste factor involved, too. Some starches can contribute a cereal note when cooked. Potato and tapioca starches possess less flavour and are used in more delicately flavoured products. Native starch must be cooked to get their full benefits. The functionality of native starch is also affected by processing conditions such as mixing, shear, pH and baking time and temperature. Other ingredients may change the performance of native starches.

HL Agro manufactures native maize starch for food processing, textile and paper industries. Made from the Non-GMO maize, the starch powder is invariably used to impart viscosity, stability, creaminess, texture, binding properties, pleasant mouthfeel, and more to food formulations ranging from frozen baked goods to powdered instant puddings to bottled salad dressings.

Modified Starches

Modified starches have been used for years in many applications, often as a thickening agent, emulsifier or stabilizer. But processors are increasing their use of clean-label starches as well as native starches, the latter especially for gluten-free products. Modified starch are made by chemically treating native starch to change their properties, typically through hydrolyzing bonds or crosslinking parts of the starch molecule, thus shortening or lengthening its chain length.
Bakery formulations gain benefits through use of modified starches. These benefits include viscosity control and management of moisture during baking. Also, starches enable control over texture, cell structure and finished product shape and size. In fillings, they optimize viscosity, texture, appearance, bake stability and shelf life. And they help with cost control.
The more specialized the job, the more a modified starch is needed. Modified starches benefit bakery formulations by addressing specific needs within the product. These requirements might be freezethaw stability, batter adhesion, moisture control or viscosity stability.

Food manufacturers find success with these native & modified array of starches. Modified and clean-label starches allow bakers to address mega market trends, including increased ingredient and formulation costs, nutrition — by either addition or reduction — as well as gluten-free and unique textures.

Starches help bakers address these trends in a cost-efficient manner. By stabilizing texture and shelf life, they enhance convenient use of baked foods.

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