Tuber and Root Starches

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Compared to the starches from dry grains, the starches from moist underground storage organs come in the form of larger granules that retain more water molecules, cook faster, and release starch at lower temperatures. They contain less amylose, but their amylose chains are up to four times longer than cereal amyloses. Root and tuber starches contain a fraction of the lipids and proteins that are associated with cereal starches, which makes them more readily gelated— lipids delay gelation by stabilizing granule structure—and gives them less pronounced flavors. These starches leave their sauces with a translucent, glossy appearance. The properties of root starches suit them for last-minute corrections of sauce consistency: less of them is required to lend a given thickness, they thicken quickly, and don’t need precooking to improve their flavor.