The water-binding capability of starch improves texture and lengthens shelf life.
Cleaning up

Despite the limitations of native starches, many ingredient suppliers are developing native starches that can provide a similar level of functionality as their modified counterparts.

“Technology is getting clean label starches to perform better than they did in their infancy a few years back,” Mr. Foss said.

Often native starches are used in conjunction with other ingredients to provide similar functionality at a comparable cost.

“Typically, for a clean label formulation there will not be a one-to-one replacement for a modified food starch,” Ms. Kozora said. “Native starches generally must be used at a higher rate. Also, you may need a blend of starches or need to add another ingredient solution to achieve the same texture, stability, appearance and taste.”

Cargill replaces modified food starch with native starch in several bakery applications, Ms. Kozora said, even in frozen cakes.

“When thawed, these cakes maintain a smooth surface, fine crumb texture and ideal moisture level,” she said. “Plus, they have a more consumer-friendly label.”

Crackers are another product the company has replaced modified starches with waxy or dent corn starch to bind the dough. Cargill continues to search for new starch sources and combinations of native starches, particularly alternative botanical starches such as tapioca and pea.

American Key Food Products uses alternative botanicals to enhance native starch functionality.

“We have flours and starches that aren’t on the normal radar: native pea starch and our proprietary cassava flour, which has a high tapioca starch content, and premium versions of white and brown rice flours,” Mr. Foss said.

The company recently introduced a new blend of cassava starches that can be used to bake a new range of baked products that have a distinctive, appealing texture.

American Key Food Products applied a gentle heating process that partially swells the starch to get a pre-gelatinized starch granule. This slight modification isn’t enough to change the starch’s classification on the ingredient list but delivers benefits to low-moisture applications such as cookies and gluten-free baked goods.

Ingredion’s latest starch innovations are native starches with added functionality for snack applications. Precisa Crisp texturizes are native corn starches that improve sheeting, expansion and texture. The company expanded its Novation line to improve cold shelf life stability and viscosity in fillings. Novation Prima 340 and 350 deliver instant viscosity and help batters withstand processing and cold-temperature storage.

“Novation Prima 340 functional native starch is ideally suited for bakery fillings, fruit preparations, pastries and desserts,” said Angeline De Castro, senior manager, marketing — Wholesome Springboard, Ingredion. “Some of the key benefits in these applications include reduction of cooking times to achieve cost savings and fresher product appeal, extended product shelf life, and excellent quality after refrigerated storage or freezing and thawing.”

With such a central role to every stage of the baking process, starches deserve proper consideration when working them into a formulation. Whether sticking with modified or looking to clean up the ingredient label with native, bakers can find a starch to suit their needs.