Using The Functional Properties of Starch to Enhance Snack Foods

Both native and chemically modified starches are and have been commonly utilized in snack products. Their use has been for expansion, adhesion, texture, and color generation.

In recent years, physically modified flours have been introduced into this snack industry. They offer some properties of chemically modified; however, they are label-friendly (flour).

Puffed (Extruded-Baked)

Common maize, tapioca, potato, wheat, and other grains are commonly used. Modified starches, however, usually require very specific modifications and are manufactured to possess specific functional properties. These properties are as much related to the starch origin as the degree and type of modification molecularly incorporated.

Native, monosubstituted, and/or hydrolyzed starches generate unique expanded products. Dextrinized and/or thermally processed starches offer adhesion, color, and textural properties. Depending on the degree of modification or the origin, a food scientist can prototype a product for extrusion, baking, or frying.


Native or unmodified starches are not predominately used in these products; typically, these snacks consist of modified starches and flavorings. The shaping or forming of the dough is dependent upon the finished snack product. Products are shaped or formed before frying.

Sometimes snacks are frozen before the frying process. They can also be frozen after par frying. Par frying is the process used to only partially cook the food item.

In many of the fried snack products, blended ingredients are used. Starches, both modified and native, as well as flours, dextrins, and low-DE sweetener solids are common ingredients. Level of usage is dictated by texture, color, flavor, storage, and frying conditions.

Typically, for simple coatings (batters), 20%-80% starch is used in the dry mix. More complex coatings can involve several starches at significantly differing levels (1%e10%). All ingredients are chosen based on product quality and functional attributes to be contributed.

Baked, Microwaved, Impinged Air Processed

The above terms can also be referred to as nonfried. Within the snack industry, this is one of the fastest growing market areas. For starch use, this too has been a significant growth area. Starches have been able to create the unique products required for this growth. Those products are called half-products. A half-product represents a formulation that, for commercial use, requires the consumer or commercial operation to complete the texture or functional properties incorporated into the product.

An example could be an extruded particulate that requires baking or microwaving to complete the expansion, viscosity development, or crisping of the ultimate product for consumption. Dependent upon texture and other functional properties, starch choice could range from common corn to a highly modified starch (origin optional based on function).

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