Southeast Asia is the world’s largest tapioca starch producer. In the region, Vietnam is a major supplier owing to its abundant natural resources and suitable weather, which are ideal for the mass production of cassava plants. Tapioca starch, with 02 main types Native and Modified, is widely used in the food and non-food industries. The distinction between native tapioca starch and modified tapioca starch will be explained in this guide. Read on to learn more about the tapioca starch market.
1. What is native and modified tapioca starch?
Tapioca starch, also commonly called cassava starch, is one of the world’s largest starch sources, coming in behind corn starch. It is a white dry starch product extracted from cassava, a tuber from Southeast Asia also known as tapioca or manioc. There are two types of starch including Tapioca Starch; Native and Modified.
A native starch is the purest type that contains only unaltered tapioca. Derived from the root of the cassava plant, the native tapioca starch has very low residual impurities, bland flavor, and superior gel properties. For everyday cooking and food preparation, native starch is a versatile material. Its application in the food and non-food sectors, however, is often limited by its functional qualities. Several physical and chemical modification approaches have been developed to improve starch qualities, resulting in modified types.
Starch modification is a method of producing modified starch by physically, chemically, or enzymatically modifying native starch under certain conditions. A modified starch is modified to allow the starch to function properly under common conditions during processing or storage, such as high heat, high shear, low pH, freeze and cooling. Modified starch is used as a thickening agent, stabilizer, or an emulsifier.
Some modified cassava starch is used in food and non-food products. Source: Aseancassava
2. The production of tapioca starch
2.1. Native tapioca starch
Vietnam tapioca starch is produced mainly by the wet milling of fresh cassava roots. Cassava tubers that are mature and of good quality can yield about 25% starch. Per 100 kg of cassava roots, roughly 60% starch and 10% dry pulp may be recovered from dry cassava chips.
In this process, cassava roots are transported to factories. Most starch factories will process the delivered roots within 1-2 days and avoid storing perishable fresh roots as cassava roots deteriorate fast. First, the roots are put through a drum to remove soil, sand, and other contaminants. After passing the roots through the root washer, some of the residual peels, known as wet peels, are manually removed, along with some hard stems or stumps. A rasper is used to slice and grind the washed roots. The pulp is removed from the starch slurry by passing fresh root slurry through a series of extractors, ranging from coarse to fine.
The starch slurry from the fine extraction is concentrated under a certain temperature. Water is separated further by passing the starch slurry through a dewatering centrifuge, which reduces the water content from 60% in the slurry to 35-40% in the cake. Starch cake is then dried by a hot-air dryer, known as a flash dryer, until it retains only 12-13 percent moisture and is ready for sale.
Native tapioca starch manufacturing process. Source: Breuninger et al. (2009), Aseancassava
Below is the standard quality of Vietnam native tapioca starch.
- Carbohydrate content as starch: 85% min
- Moisture content: 13.0% max
- Protein content: 0.20% max
- Total ash content (m/m): 0.20% max
- Whiteness: 90% min
- Acidity (ml NaOH 1N/100g): 1.5 max
- pH of 10% solution: 5 – 7
- Viscosity(6% solution): 650 – 850 BU Min
Some indicators in the specification can vary slightly depending on quality grades and manufacturers.
2.2. Modified tapioca starch
Physically modified starch (Pregelatinized starch)
In cold water, native starch is insoluble, which limits some uses. Therefore, pregelatinized starch or instant starch are modified from native starch. It is soluble cooked starch that thickens and forms a gel in cold water without heat. Pregelatinized starch is produced by a physical process by which starch is cooked and dried. Drum drying, extrusion, and spray drying can all be used to dry the product. The common production process of pregelatinized starch involves drying of 30 – 40 % (dry solid) starch slurry on a roller drum dryer heated to 160-170°C by direct steam.
Chemically modified starch
There are various chemical processes to produce chemically modified starch. Below are some popular types of chemical processes used in the food & non-food industry.
Acid-thinned is chemically modified starch produced by processing natural starch with an acid such as hydrochloric acid. Also known as thin-boiling starch, this starch provides a low viscosity hot paste when cooked. When cooled, cooked starch forms an opaque and stiff gel. Acid thinned starch’s film and gel-forming qualities make it ideal for confectionery, paper, and textile applications.
Under alkaline circumstances, the reaction of starch with sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) produces Oxidized Starch. This starch is used at the size press as a surface sizing on a wide range of uncoated free sheets to reinforce the paper surface.
Pyrodextrin is made by burning starch in the presence of mineral acids. The product has increased film forming ability, higher solubility, and reduced hot paste viscosity, making it an excellent adhesive.
Starch can be hydrolyzed by enzymes, resulting in a product with improved solubility and lower viscosity. The product with a low degree of hydrolysis is commonly used in instant food products.
In Vietnam, there are the following popular types of modified tapioca starch:
- Alpha Starch (Pregelatinized Starch)
- Modified starch E1404 (oxidized starch)
- Modified starch E1412 (Distarch phosphate)
- Modified starch E1414 (acetylated distarch phosphate)
- Modified starch E1420 (acetylated starch)
- Modified starch E1422 (acetylated distarch adipate)
Inside a modified tapioca starch manufacturer in Vietnam
3. The best applications of tapioca starch
Native tapioca starch is extensively used in food recipes such as bakery products. Native and modified starches are used in food as thickening, binding, texturizing, stabilizing, gelling, film forming, and emulsifying agents. They also work well as fillers, sweeteners, flavor carriers, and fat substitutes. Canned food, frozen food, dry mixes, baked goods, snacks, noodles, dressings, soups, sauces, dairy products, meat and fish products, and baby food are just a few examples of food products that contain starch and its derivatives.
In drinks with solid ingredients, modified starches are utilized as a colloid stabilizer. Because of their enhanced processing features and capabilities, starch-based sweeteners are favored in drinks over sucrose.
Gelling, thickening, texture stabilization, foam strengthening, crystal control, adhesion, film formation, and glazing are all examples of how starch products are utilized in confectionery.
Tapioca starch plays a huge role in the paper industry due to its whiteness, safety, cleanliness, and viscosity. It’s also a very good property in the water holding process because of its strong dryness.
Dextrins are excellent adhesives and used in many applications including corrugated board, paper-bags, laminated board, gummed paper, tapes, labels, stamps and envelopes. In animal feed, and construction materials, starch is used as adhesives or binders.
In the textile industry, starches are used as sizing agents to stiffen and preserve the thread in order to improve weaving efficiency. They’re also utilized as finishing agents to make smooth textiles and as color thickeners to make printed materials crisp and long-lasting.
3.7 Pharmaceutical, personal care, cosmetics
In tablet manufacturing, native and modified starches are used as binders, fillers, and dissolving agents. In sanitary items such as diapers and napkins, modified starch is employed as a water absorber. Medical gloves include starch powder to make them easier to wear. Specialty modified starches are utilized as a carrier for mineral oil-based skin moisturizers. Other modified starches are utilized in personal care products as emulsifiers, encapsulating agents, sizing agents, thickeners, and other additives.
Tapioca starch is used as a thickening agent in food
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