Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Gettin My Pregelatinized Smile On

I was getting my smile on with some fake Pringles known as Lay's Stax this evening, browsing the ingredients as I often do (people like me sometimes do that - check out carmine!), and what do I see but something beautiful called

Pregelatinized Starch

Blech! I swallowed quickly so as not to think about it too much and ran crying to the internet. Never fear, i found out, pregelatinized food starch is not food starch that they've already added gelatin to - no, i was being too literal (and naive).

It's just a pretty name for Improving on Nature. From the industry site Food Innovation's FAQ page:
Q/ How do I choose among the various pregelatinized starches for instant puddings and cheese sauces?
A/ The first question to ask is: How quickly do you need the starch to hydrate? Pregelatinized starches with fine particle size hydrate faster than coarser ones, but those who use fine-particle pregel starches may want to take steps to prevent lumping. Coarse ground starches disperse easily but hydrate slowly.
Oops - that wasn't very helpful. That assumes I already know. And maybe i ENGINEER velveeta competition or something. Let's try another.

Ahh! Here we go. From the site Food Product Design:
Instant improvements
Pregelatinization is a processing technique where the starch is manipulated so that it swells to some degree in cold water, unlike ordinary starch, which requires heating. The most-common method involves heating a starch paste to its gelatinization temperature, drying on a drum dryer and grinding the dried starch to a powder. Upon reconstitution with water, pregelatinized starch has less thickening power and tendency to gel than pastes of the parent starch. Pregelatinized starch works in applications requiring more rapid hydration or room-temperature preparation, such as instant dessert mixes and soups.

"Our partner, Emsland GmbH, manufacturers a line of GMO-free, kosher-certified, pregelatinized potato starches called Emjel," says Mel Festejo, chief operating officer, American Key Food Products, Closter, NJ. "The line is extensive, with each ingredient possessing its own set of superior functionalities."

For example, one of these ingredients binds and thickens and gives good texturing and stabilizing properties in bakery products, instant puddings and desserts. It also works as a coating agent for nuts, and as a binding and texturing agent with good expansion-regulating properties, mainly for extruded, indirectly expanded snack products. Another acts as a binding and texturing agent in frozen foods, dressings, mayonnaises and creams. It provides good stabilizing, freeze/thaw and baking properties. "As a thickening and stabilizing agent with good texturing and foam-stabilizing properties, this starch can be used in instant sauces and dressing powders," adds Festejo.

Now back to Chip parties in the Park!

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