AR'ROWROOT'. A variety of starch ex tracted from the roots of certain plants growing in tropical countries. It is a fine, starchy farina, valued as a deliency for use in preparing pud dings. desserts, etc., and as an easily digested food for children and invalids. It is obtained from the tuberous roots, or. more correctly, the root-stocks (rhizomes), of different species of the genus Maranta. belonging to the natural order .Marantace:e, and characterized by solitary ovules, a fleshy i.tyle curved downward, branching stems, and white flowers. The species chiefly yielding it is Maranta anindinacea, a native of tropical America, cultivated in the West India Islands, and growing about 2 feet high, with o•ato-lanceo late, somewhat hairy leaves, clusters of small flowers on two-flowered stalks, and globular fruit about the size of currants. The roots (or rhi zomes) contain a large proportion of starch. They are often more than a foot long, of the thiekne*s of a finger, jointed, and almost white, covered with rather large paper-like scales. They are dug when a year old, washed, carefully peeled, and reduced to a milky pulp. By rasping or otherwise the roots are reduced to a pulp and the starch removed by bathing with water. Great tare should he taken to prevent the starch sour ing and to insure cleanliness. The careful peel ing of the roots is of great importance, as the skin contains a resinous matter, which imparts a disagreeable flavor to arrowroot, if allowed to mix with it. The West Indian arrowroot most esteemed in the market is grown in Bermuda; the next, and at most equal to it. in Jamaica. The East Indian arrowroot is not, in general, so highly valued, perhaps because substitutes for the genuine arrowroot more frequently receive that name. The Maranta arundinacca is now, however, cultivated both in the East Indies and in Africa. llaranta indict,, which was supposed to he dis tinct from Muranto arundinarea, is now regarded as a mere variety of it, with perfectly smooth leaves. It is cultivated both in the East Indies and in Jamaica. Arrowroot is obtained also from Calathca atlouia and Clinogyne dichotoma, plants closely related to Maranta. Maranta
arundinacea is cultivated in Florida.
The amount of starch present in the roots of the Maranta varies according to age. and runs front S per cent., in those of the young plant, to 213 per cent. when full grown. The latter stage is reached when the plant is 10 to 12 months old; and the roots then present the fol lowing average eomposition per cent.: Starch or arrowroot Crude fibre 6 Protein 114 Other carbohydrates, tat and ash Water 651/2 water, SI per cent. nitrogen, free extract (mostly starch) , LS per cent. protein, and very small amounts of fat and ash.
Arrowroot is a light, opaque, white powder, NN hich, when rubbed between the fingers, pro duces a slight crackling noise, like that heard when newly fallen snow is being made into a snowball. Through the microscope, the particles are seen to be convex, inure or less elliptical, sometimes obscurely triangular, and not very dif ferent in size. The dry starch is inodorons. but when dissolved in boiling water has a slight peculiar smell, and swells up into a perfect jelly. Potato starch, with which it is often adulterated, may be distinguished by the greater size of its particles, their eoa•ser and nacre distinct rings, and their more glistening appearance. Refined sago-tiour is used for adulteration; many of its particles have a truncated extremity; their stir face is irregular or tuberculated. Arrowroot is also sometimes adulterated with rice starch, and with the etmunon starch of wheat Hour.
Large quantities of arrowroot are annually im ported into the United States and Europe. As an article of diet, it. is often prepared for in valids and children by merely dissolving it in boiling water and flavoring with sugar, lemon juice, wine, etc. It is also often prepared with milk, made into puddings, etc. When most sim ply prelmred, it forms R light meal. Arrowroot is a carbohydrate food, and hence a source of •nergy. As it contains little nitrogen, it is not very valuable for building and repairing body tissue. When combined with eggs and milk, which are nitrogenous foods, a better balanced article of diet results. See NUTRITION.