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Starch Functionalities

Starches belong to a family of substances that thicken liquids through the entrapment of

water from their long-tangled polymer chains. Natural starches are composed of two main

polymers known as amylose and amylopectin. Starches are native to most terrestrial plants;

starch granules are how a plant can store its nutrients (Tian et al, 2014). A plants seed has starch

present in it. It is this starch that the sprouting plant uses to begin its life cycle.

In class, we looked at the functions of starches thickening functions in the form of wheat,

corn, rice, and potato. The main function of starches in a system are to add thickening abilities or

viscosity to the system. Based on Escoffiers 1941 ratio for a roux (wheat flour and clarified

butter), and utilizing the CIA ProChef 9th edition cook book, three rouxs were prepared. A blond

roux, brown, and a dark roux. Each roux has its own time and place and each has their own

thickening and flavor adding capabilities. Blonde and brown rouxs are used as the primary

thickeners in the roux trilogy. It is true that these two variations will add a nutty flavor and if

used in the ratio 10% roux to liquid; should thicken to a napp consistency (Culinary Institute of

America, 2007). Rouxs lose thickening capabilities over time, due to continuous starch granule

degradation. Once a starch granule is completely degraded, it loses all functional properties and

is deemed relatively useless. Some examples of recipes that use rouxs are mother sauces

bchamel and velout. A dark roux has very little thickening capabilities and is used in few

applications, I can very closely relate to one and that is Louisiana gumbo. Gumbo is one of the

few recipes that utilize this completely degraded and practically burnt roux.
Other starches we looked at in class consisted of corn starch, potato, and rice. These starches all

behaved differently when exposed to different environmental conditions. When exposed to

extreme low pH starches and high levels of NaCl, the starches lost thickening capabilities.

Optimum level for starch imbibment of water is at a neutral pH of 7 (123helpme.com). An

influction of pH directly effects amylase leaching of starch granules, an iodine solution can be

used to count starch granules that have been ruptured under a 100x magnification

(nuffieldfoundation.org). Sucrose presence has a direct effect on starch functionality as for the

starch and the sugar will be competing for free water in the system, this means that if the solution

is overly saturated some un-hydrated starch granules in the system can potentially precipitate.

The size of granules also has a direct effect on this, rice being one of the smallest and potato

being one of the largest. (Figueroa et al., 2016)

Basic kitchen preparation. (2007). New Haven, CT: Culinary Institute of America.

Figueroa, Y., Guevara, M., Prez, A., Cova, A., Sandoval, A. J., & Mller, A. J. (2016). Effect of
sugar addition on glass transition temperatures of cassava starch with low to
intermediate moisture contents. Carbohydrate Polymers,146, 231-237.

How pH Affects the Break Down of Starch by the Enzyme Amylase Essay. (n.d.). Retrieved
April 05, 2017, from http://www.123helpme.com/preview.asp?id=116243

Investigating the effect of pH on amylase activity. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2017, from

Imeson, A. (2010). Food Stabilisers, Thickeners and Gelling Agents. Chichester: Blackwell

Myhrvold, N., Young, C., Bilet, M., & Smith, R. M. (2011). Modernist cuisine: the art and
science of cooking. Bellevue, Wash. (3150 139th Ave. SE, Bellevue, WA 98005):
Cooking Lab.
Tian, Y., Guan, B., Zhou, D., Yu, J., Li, G., & Lou, Y. (2014). Responses of Seed Germination,
Seedling Growth, and Seed Yield Traits to Seed Pretreatment in Maize ( Zea mays
L.). The Scientific World Journal,2014, 1-8. doi:10.1155/2014/834630