Curious (and somewhat disgusted): why corn starch in pasta?

Tonight my husband made some "fresh pasta" he recently bought at a large somewhat trendy grocery chain. It was cooked exactly to directions but came out gummy and slippery. Yuck. When I looked at the label it said "vegan - no eggs!" And the ingredients listed only flour, salt and corn starch. So I'm figuring that the corn starch was put in there to somehow compensate for the lack of egg? My husband wondered if maybe it was added as a preservative of the "freshness." Or could there be some other reason? We will surely never buy this again, but now I'm curious. Can anyone enlighten me?

  • Posted by: TobiT
  • March 12, 2013


Connie G. August 1, 2017
I found a gluten free homemade noodle recipe with just 1 cup each cornstarch and potato starch egg oil water salt and I threw in a pinch of baking powder I thought yucky but I tried it and it rolls out so nice you use some potato starch to roll it out on and I used a pizza cutter to cut the noodles, and the next day they were not stuck together like real homemade ones are and they were a lot texture wise of the noodles in campbells chicken and noodles ...I loved them and still use them
TobiT March 13, 2013
Thanks everyone! In general I do adhere to Sam's guidance to avoid those substitutes unless specifically needed. Unfortunately, when hubby does the shopping I often find some odd variations in our fridge and pantry! I guess that is a survivable trade off for having a mate who pitches in so much!

Anyway, thanks- I learned a lot from everyone's answers.
SMSF March 13, 2013
I agree with Sam that the corn starch is simply a dusting to keep the strands from sticking together in the package. I see no reason to be "disgusted" by the corn starch, though it's true that you didn't like product as prepared.
Maedl March 13, 2013
Proper pasta, that is pasta made from wheat and not corn or rice, is routinely made all over southern Italy. The ingredients are semolina flour, maybe some barley or farro flour and water. Eggs are not on the ingredient list and I am pretty sure that no salt is added to the noodle dough. The salt goes in the cooking water, which should have the salinity of sea water. This produces a pasta that grabs the sauce perfectly.

Like Sam, I think the corn starch was added to keep the pasta from sticking together. Next time you get pasta, have a look at the dried pastas--a good quality of dried pasta will almost always be better than fresh pasta in a grocery store. And read the ingredients label--anything with more than flour, water, and possibly eggs should stay on the grocer's shelf. And while you are looking at the pasta box, if you see that the pasta is extruded from old dyes, that will be your better choice. Those old, heavily-used dyes are nicked and worn, and give the pasta more texture, which helps the pasta hold the sauce better.
boulangere March 12, 2013
Not exactly. Pastas are commonly made without eggs. Corn and rice flours are common in gluten-free pastas. They are notoriously difficult to cook and hold because the rice flour component is so volatile. When it's done, it done. It can't successfully be held, sauced or not, for long, or the rice flour breaks down completely and it's like trying to hold a few pounds of corn starch.
Sam1148 March 12, 2013
Humm..I think the corn starch was used as a dusting agent to keep the 'fresh' pasta intact and separated; and not the mix or as a sub for eggs. Next time..unless you're vegan, don't purchase substitutes for stuff.
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