The Essentials and Many Uses of Starch

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Important uses of starch as food and its significant industrial usages.

Starch is the food material that is stored in plants and can be found in seeds, in roots, in tubers or in stems. It provides food for growing seeds and for plants during their resting period. Starch is an important food for people, too. It is the most important carbohydrate in the human diet. Starch, scientifically known as amylum, is the common name for a white, granular or powdery, odorless, tasteless carbohydrate. One notable characteristic of starch is – it does not dissolve in cold water, alcohol or ether. It does dissolve in hot water.

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What are the major sources of starch? Well, major sources of starch include; arrowroot, cassava, corn, potatoes, rice, sago palm, and wheat.

Green plants during the process of photosynthesis make starch. It forms part of the cell walls in plants. Our body gets energy from the starch found in plants. People eat starch in its natural form in potatoes, rice and other starchy vegetables. Flour is a starch made from the seeds of rice, wheat, corn, or other plants.

Uses of Starch as Food

  • It used in making foods for cattle, pigs and poultry and humans
  • It is used in jellies and gum
  • It is used in medicines and candies
  • It is used in food thickener and paper
  • Carefully selected starches help make yogurts and puddings
  • Other special food starches improve the flavor, texture, shelf-life and processing of a variety of baked products.
  • Starch is also used as bakery fillings for cream and fruit pies and doughnuts
  • It is used as dry mixes for cakes and muffins, brownies and cookies
  • It is used as ingredients for jellies, cookies, glazes, icings and frostings
  • There are specialty starches used to help create reduced-fat and no-fat products
  • It improves baked goods rich in fiber
  • Dextrose is made from starch

Other Uses of Starch

  • Starch is used to make foam for packaging
  • It is used in making sizing for textiles and papers
  • The glucose from starch can be fermented to biofuel ethanol
  • It is used as filler in papermaking
  • It is used in preparing laundry starch
  • It is used as a substitute for talcum powder and other beauty and health products
  • It is processed to produce dextrin- a gummy substance used primarily in making adhesive
  • It is used as syrup
  • It is used as industrial alcohol
  • Starch is used as nitrostarch (used for explosive)

Every time we eat rice or potato, we are actually eating starch. Starch provides us the energy to work. In the form of carbohydrates, starches give the energy needed by humans. Foods rich in carbohydrates are usually the most abundant and cheapest when compared with foods high in protein and fat content.