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Corn starch is a pure gluten-free product made from grinding the corn kernel, cleansing the product, then allowing the substance to dry into the well-known powder state. It is derived from the endosperm of the corn kernel (Zea mays), comprising
almost 70% of the corn kernel.
The use of starch is chronicled in records of
the early Egyptians, who manufactured papyrus using a starch coating. Roman records indicate that those early innovators found uses for starch in foods, medicine, cosmetics and fabrics. It was not until the middle of the nineteenth
that the process for large-scale efficient extraction
of starch from corn was developed.1 Corn, on the other hand, is a New World ingredient, derived from an early
version of corn known as Teosinte. For this reason, corns use as a starch source is relatively new.
The primary function of corn starch is its thickening
capabilities. Powdered sugar and pie fillings are two of the most common baking related items that contain corn starch as a major ingredient. Corn starch is also able to assist different ingredients in binding together. Starch
gelatinization is a vital function of corn starch in baking. Upon adding heat and moisture, starch irreversibly breaks down allowing water or moisture to seep into the granule causing swelling and gelatinization. Besides
its use as a thickening agent (the first physiochemical property), corn starch serves to disperse or suspend food ingredients within a mixture. For instance, corn starch is used to suspend fats in protein mixtures, as well
as suspend proteins in fat mixtures. The third physiochemical property is starches ability to form gels. The fourth physiochemical property is corn starch’s ability to form strong adhesive films. For this reason, corn starch
is one of the most widely used food ingredients in baking and beyond.