The cereal and snack industries use starches to create specific textures, such as increased crispiness, especially in high-temperature, short-time processes. In the snack market, there is a trend towards lower fat, including fried textures from baked products, high fiber, and simpler processes. Starch can help achieve each of these goals.
Ready-to-eat Breakfast Cereals
Cooking, shaping, and expanding cereal can be too harsh on native starches in common flours like corn and oat. When this happens, the dough may not expand properly, resulting in undesirable texture and density.
Sometimes when cereal pieces are directly expanded using an extruder, it can cause them to break down. By adding a high-amylose or crosslinked corn starch, it can help improve the shape definition and control of the process, as well as the texture and bowl-life.
Bindzus and Altieri claim use of a phosphate ester as an extrusion expansion aid.
Adding cereal brans and other health-promoting ingredients to breakfast cereals can reduce the product’s expansion and mouthfeel. However, using resistant starches can help maintain the product’s texture, appearance, and palatability while still providing health benefits.
These resistant starches for expanded cereals and snacks are made from high-amylose maize and processed to improve nutritional value and retrogradation.
Fried or Baked Snacks
Starches are used in fried snacks to improve texture and add dough machinability. More amylose leads to a firmer texture, and high-amylose starches can control oil absorption.
French fries are often coated with high-amylose starches or dextrins to make them crispier and more durable under heat lamps. Different types of starches like cross-linked tapioca starch, low-DE starch hydrolyzates, and modified dent corn and potato starches are used for this purpose.
High-amylose starches make fried products crispier because they form brittle films when cooked and dried. Some have used starch with sodium alginate to make onion rings, which are extruded and fried.
To make baked goods look and taste like fried products with less fat, starches that expand and crisp up are used. These starches are changed to be able to expand in the milder heat of an oven. A highly monosubstituted starch or pregelatinized starch is preferred.
To lower fat levels, a dextrin or soluble starch can replace oil for shine. Converted starches are used in starch-based tackifiers, which rely on their ability to form a film and stick to surfaces.
Again, to further reduce fat levels, these starches replace the oils used to attach seasonings and particulates to the surface of snacks or to agglomerate cereals like granola.