Heels and Flooding have proposed the pro duction of starch from horse chestnut, which amongst other amylaceous and albuminous substances is said to contain 25 per cent. of this substance. The bitter principle in the chestnut can be removed by alkali, and the following process is said to afford a product, which cannot be chemically distinguished from starch obtained, from other sources. The chesnuts are thro wn into boiling water, skin ned and grated ; the grated mass is then well mixed and kneaded with soda (1 lb. to 100 lbs. of the pulp,) and the starch subsequently obtained from it by washing in the ordinary manner. Water alone is said to remove the bitter principle, but a sharp taste then remains attached to the starch, which can only be re moved by aU ali. The snow-white powder known as arrow root, and at Qne time most erroneously consi dered the very essence . of nutrition,' and par- ticularlyrecommendedas food for infants, is a very pure kind of starch prepared in the West Indies, particularly in Jamaica, from the rootof the Marantha arundinacea” and “ In- dica,” plants belonging to the family of the “Scitamine®.” The name was first applied to the root from its supposed efficacy in curing wounds. The starch is coiltainedin thejoints of the rhizome or underground stem, being deposited in a number of very minute cells. The following account of the mode of pre paring this arrow-root is givenby Pereira:— ” The starch or fecula is extracted from the roots (tubers)_ when these are about ten or twelve months old. The process isentirely a mechanical one, and is performed either by hand or machine" In Jamaica it is procured as follows:—The - tubers are dug up well washed with water, and then beaten in large deep wooden mortars to a pulp. This is thrown into a large tub of clean water. The whole is then well stirred, and_the fibrous part then wrung out by the hands and thrown away. The milky liquor being passed through a hair sieve. or coarse cloth is suffered to settle, and the clear water ia drained ofl: At the bottOm of the vessel is a white mass, which is again mixed with clean water and drained ; lastly, the mass is dried on sheets in the sun, and is pure starch. In Bermuda the roots are first deprived of their paper-like scales, and then rasped by a kind of wheel rasp, and the fecula well wash ed through sieves and carefully dried.
This article was originally published with the title "Starch from Horse Chestnut and Arrow Root" in Scientific American 8, 14, 105 (December 1852)