Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by most green plants as an energy store. It is the most common carbohydrate in human diets and is contained in large amounts in staple foods such as potatoes, wheat, maize (corn), rice, and cassava.
Pure starch is a white, tasteless and odorless powder that is insoluble in cold water or alcohol. It consists of two types of molecules: the linear and helical amylose and the branched amylopectin.
Depending on the plant, starch generally contains 20 to 25% amylose and 75 to 80% amylopectin by weight. Glycogen, the glucose store of animals, is a more branched version of amylopectin.
Starch is processed to produce many of the sugars in processed foods. Dissolving starch in warm water gives wheatpaste, which can be used as a thickening, stiffening or gluing agent. The biggest industrial non-food use of starch is as adhesive in the papermaking process. Starch can be applied to parts of some garments before ironing, to stiffen them.
The word "starch" is from a Germanic root with the meanings "strong, stiff, strengthen, stiffen".〔New Shorter Oxford Dictionary, Oxford, 1993〕 Modern German ''Stärke'' (starch) is related.
"Amylum" for starch is from the Greek αμυλον, "amylon" which means "not ground at a mill". The root amyl is used in biochemistry for several compounds related to starch.
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