What is it?
Tapioca is the pure starch extracted from the cassava root. It is one of the purest forms of starch. It is a very fine white powder, similar in appearance to corn starch.
Tapioca is gluten free, grain free, sugar free and nut free as well as virtually tasteless and odourless. These attributes make it ideal for use in foods for those with food sensitivities.
It is very high in carbohydrates so use it in moderation to prevent blood sugar spikes and other negatives associated with high carbohydrate intakes.
What can I do with it?
Tapioca is a binder and thickener. It is somewhat elastic when cooked which is specifically useful in starch mixes used in gluten free flours and baking,
Tapioca is virtually undetectable in recipes, which is why it’s used in both sweet and savoury dishes. It has positive effects on the texture and “mouth-feel” of recipes — for example, by making baked goods more spongy, springy, promoting browning and helping crusts to crisp up without affecting the taste.
Tapioca absorbs and retains significant amounts of moisture, which makes it very good for binding, thickening and moistening recipes. While gluten-free baking can sometimes be hard without the sticky and bouncy quality of gluten protein adding some tapioca starch can help keep recipes from crumbling and getting too dry. Use it in combination with other starches and gluten free flours for the best results.
What can it do for me?
Using tapioca in recipes can be a great way to reduce the use of butter, oil, cream or dairy. It’s suitable in moderation for people on a low-calorie diet, those with diabetes, high blood pressure symptoms, high cholesterol, allergies and digestive issues.
What can I substitute?
Arrowroot is another starchy food product that’s a popular addition to gluten-free baking and similar to tapioca in many ways. Arrowroot is made from several different root plants, including cassava or yuca root, but also other tropical plant varieties grown in Asia and Africa. It’s high in starch, low-calorie, low in protein and fat, and is also free from all common allergens (gluten, nuts, seeds, dairy and it’s vegan). Most people use it to bind, thicken and moisten recipes just like tapioca.
How do I store it?
Store in an airtight container and keep away from moisture. If properly stored it will have a very long shelf life. You can store it in the freezer for a longer shelf life. Remove all air from the container to prevent condensation of moisture inside the container.