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WHAT IS TAPIOCA AND WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? Updated: 19/09/2017

WHAT IS TAPIOCA?

 

  • Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root, a tuber native to South America.
  • The cassava root is relatively easy to grow and a dietary staple in several countries in Africa, Asia and South America.
  • Tapioca is almost pure starch and has very limited nutritional value.
  • However, it's naturally gluten-free, so it can serve as a wheat substitute in cooking and baking for people who are on a gluten-free diet.
  • Tapioca is a dried product and usually sold as white flour, flakes or pearls.

 

 

HOW IS IT MADE?

 

  • Production varies by location, but always involves squeezing starchy liquid out of ground cassava root.
  • Once the starchy liquid is out, the water is allowed to evaporate. When all the water has evaporated, a fine tapioca powder is left behind.
  • Next, the powder is processed into the preferred form, such as flakes or pearls.
  • Pearls are the most common form. They're often used in bubble tea, puddings and desserts, as well as a thickener in cooking.
  • Because of the dehydration process, the flakes, sticks and pearls must be soaked or boiled before consumption.
  • They may double in size and become leathery, swollen and translucent.

 

WHAT IS IT USED FOR?

 

  • Tapioca is a grain- and gluten-free product that has many uses:
  • Gluten and grain-free bread: Tapioca flour can be used in bread recipes, although it's often combined with other flours.
  • Flatbread: It's often used to make flatbread in developing countries. With different toppings, it may be used as breakfast, dinner or dessert.
  • Puddings and desserts: Its pearls are used to make puddings, desserts, snacks or bubble tea.
  • Thickener: It can be used as a thickener for soups, sauces and gravies. It's cheap, has a neutral flavor and great thickening power.
  • Binding agent: It's added to burgers, nuggets and dough to improve texture and moisture content, trapping moisture in a gel-like form and preventing sogginess.
  • In addition to its cooking uses, the pearls have been used to starch clothes by boiling the pearls with the clothes. Tapioca flour is often mistaken for cassava flour, which is ground cassava root. However, tapioca is the starchy liquid that's extracted from ground cassava root.

 

NUTRITIONAL VALUES

 

  • Tapioca is almost pure starch, so it's almost entirely made up of carbs.
  • It contains only minor amounts of protein, fat and fiber.
  • Furthermore, it only contains minor amounts of nutrients. Most of them amount to less than 0.1% of the recommended daily amount in one serving.
  • One ounce (28 grams) of dry tapioca pearls contains 100 calories.
  • Due to its lack of protein and nutrients, tapioca is nutritionally inferior to most grains and flours.
  • In fact, tapioca can be considered as "empty" calories. It provides energy with almost no essential nutrients.

 

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