In thermal food processing methods like canning, jarring, retorting, and heat sterilization, selecting the right starch is vital. A food technologist may suggest using modified starch with specific properties to enhance stability and consistency.
When choosing a starch, several factors come into play, such as flavor, shelf life, and appearance. Generally, modified common or waxy corn starch serves as a good starting point for research.
Adapting Starch for High-Acid or Low-pH Foods
In cases involving high-acid or low-pH foods, the heat treatment is usually minimal. To meet product requirements, you might consider using a cross-linked-only starch, but sometimes monosubstitution is necessary, especially when considering characteristics and storage needs (generally ranging from 1.5% to 6.0%).
Harnessing Unique Starch Characteristics for Thermal Processing
Starches with unique properties can offer advantages in thermally processed foods. Whether using native or specially modified starches, you can achieve a range of viscosity profiles and improve processing while retaining particulate integrity.
Understanding the Thick to Thin Starch Concept
The concept of transitioning from thick to thin consistency is important in specific food preparations. It becomes relevant when you need to add particular components before or after processing. While native potato starch is a natural example of a thick to thin starch, it may not be suitable for all food formulations.
Exploring Modified Starch Options
Starch suppliers offer various modified starches, some with monosubstitution only and others with specific acids that create a hydrolysis reaction during sterilization. This can result in a smoother consistency and reduced viscosity. These starches have also found applications in microwaveable foods (typically ranging from 0.5% to 4.5%).
Enhancing Thermal Processing with Thin to Thick Starch Properties
Starches with significant modification can provide properties that transition from thin to thick. This can reduce sterilization time for certain food systems, potentially increasing productivity and product quality. However, depending on the food product, quality issues related to color, texture, and mouthfeel may arise. Waxy maize is a commonly used starch for this process.
Starches for Opaque Foods
In the case of foods not meant to be clear (cloudy), specially engineered starches are necessary. Applications like gravies, sauces, or beverage mixes benefit from these modified starches, which are generally stable during high-temperature processing. Modified common maize and/or wheat starches are typically used for this purpose. It’s important to note that starches designed for opacity are not recommended as water binders or phase stabilizers.