Corn starch

Corn starch

Corn starch, cornstarch, cornflour or maize starch is the starch of the corn (maize) grain obtained from the endosperm of the corn kernel.



Thomas Kingsford is credited to have been the inventor of corn starch in the 1840s, while he was working as the superintendent of a wheat starch factory in Jersey City, New Jersey.[citation needed] Until 1850, corn starch was used primarily for starching laundry and industrial uses.[1]


It is used as a thickening agent in soups and liquid-based foods, such as sauces, gravies and custard. It is sometimes preferred over flour because it forms a translucent mixture, rather than an opaque one. As the starch is heated, the molecular chains unravel, allowing them to collide with other starch chains to form a mesh, thickening the liquid (Starch gelatinization). It is usually included as an anticaking agent in powdered sugar (10X or confectioner's sugar). For this reason, recipes calling for powdered sugar often call for at least light cooking to remove the raw corn starch taste. Baby powder often uses cornstarch.[citation needed]

When using corn starch, first mix it with cold water (or another liquid) until it forms a smooth paste, and then add it to whatever is being thickened. If it is added directly into the cooking food it will form lumps that are then difficult to mash out for a smooth mixture.[1] An easy way to make certain that all the lumps are gone from the corn starch/water mixture is to put the two into a jar with a screw on lid and vigorously shake the sealed jar until the lumps are gone.[citation needed] This also works with a flour/water mixture. This method also allows for better portion control when slowly adding it to a soup, sauce, or gravy.

Corn starch, in certain scientific experiments, can be used as a Non-Newtonian fluid.

A common substitute is arrowroot, which replaces corn starch on a 1:1 ratio.[2]


The corn is steeped for 30 to 48 hours, which ferments it slightly. The germ is separated from the endosperm and those two components are ground separately (still soaked). Next the starch is removed from each by washing. The starch is separated from the corn steep liquor, the cereal germ, the fibers and the corn gluten mostly in hydrocyclones and centrifuges, and then dried. (The residue from every stage is used in animal feed and to make corn oil or other applications.) This process is called wet milling. Finally the starch may be modified for specific purposes.[3]


Amylophagia is a condition involving the compulsive consumption of excessive amounts of purified starch, often corn starch.[4]

Names and varieties

  • Called corn starch in the USA.
  • Called cornflour in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Commonwealth countries, except in Canada, where it is also known as corn starch. Not to be confused with cornmeal.
  • Called maize starch in Europe.
  • Often called maizena in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, South Africa, Latin America and Indonesia, after the brand.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Corn starch". Everything2. Retrieved 2011-06-12. 
  2. ^ "Ingredient Substitution". 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2011-06-12. 
  3. ^ "International Starch: Production of corn starch". Retrieved 2011-06-12. 
  4. ^ Jackson, W. Clay; Martin, John P. (2000-02-28). "Amylophagia Presenting as Gestational Diabetes". Archives of Family Medicine. pp. 649–652. doi:10.1001/archfami.9.7.649. Retrieved 2011-06-12. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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