Producing Pulse Starch

  • Starch represents the major component of peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas, ranging from 40-50% of the dry seed weight. Starches can either be isolated from pulses using wet processing techniques, or concentrated during air classification to produce a coarse, starch-rich product. Wet methods to isolate starch are able to achieve much higher levels of purity (>85%) compared to air-classified products which will typically range from 65-85% and contain anywhere from 8-20% of the remaining seed constituents such as protein and fibres. 

  • Pea Starch With Spoon
  • Starch Granules
    • Processing & Ingredients

    Pulse Starch Technical Overview


Pulse Starch Composition

Starches naturally occur as granules that are composed of chains of glucose units linked together to form the two building blocks of starch: amylose and amylopectin. The ratio of amylose:amylopectin plays an important role in starch functionality. 

Compared to many other naturally occurring starches, pea, lentil and bean starches contain very high levels of amylose (29 – 50%) and contain low concentrations (<1%) of minor components such as lipids or proteins (Hoover et al., 2010).

Starch content and composition of pulses1
PulseStarch (%db)Amylose (%starch)
Pea45.7 - 51.231 – 49
Lentil44.5 - 50.129 – 29
Faba Bean40.8 - 47.231 – 40
Corn70.0 - 75.0226 - 31
Tapioca84.5316 - 31

1. Adapted from Ren et al. 2021. 2. Prasanthi et al. 2017. 3. Sanchez et al. 2010.

Functionality and Applications

Pulse starches are clean-label, functional ingredients. The higher amylose content of pulse starches allows them to form highly-stable gel networks. Pulse starches display reduced gelatinization temperatures and granular swelling which results in a lower peak viscosity under typical pasting conditions. Upon cooling, the reassociation of amylose in pulse starch allows for the formation of a strong gel. Pulses starches also exhibit greater resistance to enzymatic activity, high-temperature processing and slow digesting, contributing to a low glycemic index.

Food & Beverage

Pea starch can be used as a thickener, gelling agent, stabilizer, fat substitute, expansion agent, anti-caking agent and can provide crispiness and a smooth mouthfeel.

    • Sweeteners
    • Edible Films
    • Sauces, Soups, Dressings and Condiments
    • Snacks and Breakfast Cereals
    • Baked Goods
    • Processed Meats
    • Seafood and Meat Substitutes
    • Confectionary
    • Noodles and Pasta
    • Chilled and Shelf-Stable Dairy and Dairy Alternatives

Industrial Applications

    • Oil & Ore Refining
    • Medical Wound Dressings
    • Bioplastics
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Paper, Pulp & Packaging
  • Pea Starch in Paper Making
    • Applications
    • Processing & Ingredients

    Pea Starch in Paper Applications


Modifying Starches to Improve Functionality

Modifications can be applied to pulse starch to improve functionality for different end use applications, including:
    • Enzymatic modification
    • Chemical modifications:
      • Acid thinning
      • Oxidation
      • Cross linking
      • Substitution
    • Physical modifications:
      • High hydrostatic pressure treatment
      • Hydrothermal treatments
      • Irradiation
      • Ultrasonication
  • Starch Modifications
    • Processing & Ingredients

    Modifying Starches to Improve Functionality


1. Ren, Y, Yuan, TZ, Chigwedere, CM, Ai, Y. A current review of structure, functional properties, and industrial applications of pulse starches for value-added utilization. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2021; 20: 3061– 3092.

2. Prasanthi PS, Naveena N, Vishnuvardhana Rao M, Bhaskarachary K. Compositional variability of nutrients and phytochemicals in corn after processing. J Food Sci Technol. 2017 Apr;54(5):1080-1090. doi: 10.1007/s13197-017-2547-2. Epub 2017 Feb 18. PMID: 28416857; PMCID: PMC5380630.

3. Sánchez T, Dufour D, Moreno IX, Ceballos H. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2010 58 (8), 5093-5099DOI: 10.1021/jf1001606