Starches & why we love them

Author: Monty   Date Posted:13 November 2013 

Starches are wonderful white powders with many functional applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries. I will try and explain how wonderful these powders actually are and how they relate to what we do here at the Melbourne Food Depot. As the first of what hopefully will be many posts regarding starches I am going to concentrate on their use in the confectionery industry. Feel free to check out our starch products available for immediate purchase.

Starch products have many applications in the confectionery industry:

1. The main one would be as gelling agents. Both modified and unmodified starches can be used regardless of the original starch source (corn, tapioca, potato and wheat). In order for starch to gel it must be cooked up to the partiular gelatinisation temperature. The most common starch used for this application is corn. If a less elastic texture is required starch maybe used as a part replacer for the gelatin. The best starch to use in this application would be potato due to its clarity.

2. Starches and low DE maltodextrins can also be used in confectionary manufacture. They can be used to substitute gelatin or expensive hydrocolloids like gum acacia. They will also have the added benefit of inhibiting sugar recrystallisation. This also aids when making vegan or religious claims on products.

3. Modified starches and maltodextrins can be used in panning applications. These are consideraly cheaper than some hydrocolloids for example gum tragacanth.

4. Starch can be used as moulding starch. This is where an impression is pushed into the starch and the liquid confection deposited into the hole. Once the jelly has set they can be recovered from the starch and the starch reused.

5. Starch can also be used for dusting products preventing them from sticking together. Remember those tin of lollies your Grand Mother had in the special room? The white powder was starch.

6. Pregelatinized or (Cold-Water-Swelling starches) do not need to be cooked (they can be further heated). They give structure, body and viscosity to the product.

7. Thin boiling starches (acid treated starches) have very low viscosity at high temperatures. These starches are ideal for depositing of other hot processes. The starch granules have been treated with an acid, this chops down the starch chain length, hence the name thin. This processing technique lowers the hot paste viscosity while leaving the gel strength unchanged. This enables more starch to be used in the mix while not adding to the processing problems (pumping and the like).