Plenty of questions arise when determining what starch to use in a snack. Will the item be crispy, crunchy, creamy or thin? How much should the snack expand? Is it baked? Will it have a coating?

“The type of starch used will affect properties at both the initial bite portion of the eating experience and the oral breakdown of the snack,” says Matt Yurgec, associate, global applications, bakery and snack team for Ingredion, Inc. and based in Bridgewater, N.J. “For instance, the type of starch used can affect how hard the initial bite is and how loud the sound is that the snack makes when it is bitten. The starch selection can also affect whether or not the snack will break down via a shatter like a pretzel or a snap like a hard biscuit.”

Starch selection also will play a role in the dissolving rate of the snack, he said. The cohesiveness of the bolus (a lump of chewed food) and the amount of “toothpack” (food debris that gets stuck in teeth) also may be affected by starches.

“Based on our knowledge of snack texture, adjusting some or all of these attributes will lead to a product being perceived as either crunchy or crispy,” Mr. Yurgec says. “Each of these properties can be tailored to achieve a texture experience that is desired.”

Starches are not easily interchangeable for any given application, says Mel Festejo, chief operating officer for American Key Food Products, Closter, N.J.

“Crispness in texture, for instance, is characteristic of starches with higher levels of amylose,” he says. “Such starches, however, do not lend themselves to much expansion. High-amylopectin starches, on the other hand, contribute to greater expansion, which may not be the target in the formulation of thin snacks.”

Potential sources for starches include rice, tapioca, wheat and corn. Sub-categories appear, too, such as in corn starch.

Dent corn starches may provide a harder, more audible crunch when compared to a waxy starch, which may provide a flinty, light bite in a snack product like a cracker, says Michelle Kozora, technical services manager for Cargill Texturizing Solutions. Amylose in dent starch may contribute to more of a harder texture but still may be crispy, she says. Amylopectin-only starches, like waxy corn, contribute more of a lighter, crispy texture.

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