What is Starch and What its Main Uses?
Surely more than once you’ve heard of starch, present in many foods, but you may never have stopped to investigate what it is. Well, the first thing you should know is that starch is the only plant polysaccharide that the human body is capable of assimilating. It also assimilates very fast. It is one of the three types of carbohydrates that exist-sugar and dietary fibers are the other two-and is made up of a large number of glucose units that are linked by glycosidic bonds.
Most of the energy we use to complete our life processes comes from starch, a substance present in the vast majority of foods in our diet. In fact, a very important percentage of our diet should be composed of products rich in starch, such as potatoes, rice or cereals (pasta, bread, wheat, barley). We also find it in fruits and vegetables, in legumes (no matter the color and size, beans, peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas or beans are rich in starch) or in a series of processed foods not very healthy
Culinary uses of starch
But starch-rich foods are one thing, and the starch that is used to produce food starch is quite different from where it comes from. The solution to the question is in the fields of cereals such as wheat or corn, in the rice fields, in the plantations of cassava, cassava, tapioca and potatoes, the vegetable that is probably most associated with starch. In Spain, the main source of starch for cooking is corn. Hence the name Maizena, the most outstanding trademark for this type of product.
You should also know that starch should always be cooked. If we find it cold this flour is indissoluble, and our digestive system can not digest it if we take raw starch; thus losing the important energy contribution that supposes. The most common way to consume it is boiled, but if you are going to use it as a thickener, just warm it at 70ºC for a few minutes. There are several uses for starch, such as thickener and gelling agent in sauces, soups or doughs. Although it is not so usual, some people use it to the batter or to give extra energy to their dishes.
If you are going to use it as a thickener, simply mix the starch with tap water in a glass or bowl until it dissolves. Once the operation is completed you just have to add the mixture to the stew. Calculating the percentages is difficult, first because it depends on the number of liquids in the recipe (in addition to water you have to count the oil, juices and other liquids you can carry) and then because you do not always need the same thickness. Some custards will be much thicker than a soup, so you should keep these issues in mind when using it.
Starch beyond the kitchen
Beyond the use we give you between stoves, we can use the starch outside the kitchen, for example in natural cosmetics as a facial mask. It is easy for the masks you buy to contain cornstarch, but if you are one of those who prepare their own homemade mask do not forget to add starch. With it remove impurities and excess oil from the pores, and it is easy to remove a mask that also carries egg white and rose water.
And if you boil the starch until it forms a paste and filter it you will have a powerful glue that you can even store for a week in the fridge.