How to make tapioca pearls

Published: Mar 8, 2021 · Modified: May 23, 2021 by Honest Food Talks

Learn how to make tapioca pearls for bubble tea from scratch. Whether you like your boba pearls chewy, soft, ‘Q’ or firm, we’ll show you how to achieve that perfect texture.

How to make tapioca pearls

Homemade boba pearls are an absolute must if you love drinking bubble tea. Making boba balls from scratch will give you more control over the size, texture, and flavour. This is something you won’t be able to control with store-bought ones.

Our recipe will show you how to make the perfect boba in under 30 minutes. No more crispy centered, mushy or hard boba pearls! We’ll also show you how to make tapioca pearls with matcha, mango, lychee and even rose ones at the end!

What are Tapioca Pearls?

Tapioca pearls are small chewy balls made from tapioca starch. Typically, these spheres are black in colour and are used for bubble tea. Although boba has a gelatinous texture, no gelatin is used in the process of creation. Therefore, this makes these small chewy spheres vegan friendly.

Boba are naturally translucent and white in colour. However, black food colouring or brown sugar is often used in the process. This is to achieve the familiar black colour. Black boba pearls were created for an aesthetic purpose to contrast with the colour of milk tea.

What is Tapioca Starch?

Tapioca starch is a gluten-free flour that comes from the cassava root plant. The native South American plant arrived in Taiwan between 1895 and 1945, under Japanese rule. Tapioca starch is mainly known for making thick and chewy textures in dishes.

How to make tapioca pearls

Is this the same as sago?

Sago is also a type of chewy ball that is used in Asian desserts. However, it is usually smaller in size and made from a variety of tropical palm stems. Sago is used more widely across different Asian cuisines.

What does it taste like?

Cooked by themselves, there is very little taste to tapioca pearls. These small spheres can be made with brown sugar or steeped in a caramel syrup for a sweeter taste.

Texture

Some people describe the texture of these small spheres to resemble that of jelly and gummy bears.

In Taiwan, the texture of tapioca boba pearls is referred to as Q or QQ. The term itself is hard to translate. However, it attempts to describe the mouthfeels of the soft yet resilient or bouncy texture. The high percentage of starch in cassava root is the reason behind this chewy texture. Other dishes which are also described in Taiwan as Q include fish balls, mochi, taro balls, and tangyuan.

Where is it from?

Black tapioca pearls were first created as a cheaper alternative to sago. Milk tea with boba pearls was originally created in Taiwan during the 1980s. Milk tea was not an unfamiliar concept to the tea-drinking culture in East Asia. Meanwhile using boba pearls in desserts was already a common practice. The combination of both naturally kicked off in popularity when it was first introduced as a cooling summer drink and snack.

How to make tapioca pearls

Although the inventor of bubble tea is much disputed, there are two stores in Taiwan which fight the claim of inventing the drink. As neither side won the patent lawsuit, this allowed many vendors to adopt and sell their version of the beverage snack worldwide.

Why is bubble tea also called boba?

Boba can refer to the pearls alone or the milk tea drink as a whole. Interestingly, the term 波霸 (bōbà) in Chinese is slang for a woman with voluptuous breasts. The pearls was nicknamed boba as a gimmick for having larger boba balls than all other competing stores.

How to make tapioca pearls

It is widely believed that the term was adopted by overseas Chinese who referred to the beverage as boba. This was easier to pronounce than the Chinese term 珍珠奶茶 (zhēnzhū nǎichá). Today, the small black spheres are interchangeably called boba, pearls, or tapioca pearls.

Is it healthy?

Tapioca pearls are made of starchy carbohydrates. This means that they are calorie-dense and can be hard to digest. There are very little nutritional benefits but there are no adverse effects on health when consumed in moderation.

Some manufacturers may use colouring, thickeners and preservatives to prolong shelf life and its appearance. These ingredients can lead to gastrointestinal problems. This is especially the case when consumed in large amounts.

Fresh vs Store-bought

The benefits of making tapioca pearls yourself are that you know exactly what ingredients are inside it. Also, you will be able to customise it entirely by making unique flavours like mango boba or matcha pearls.

The disadvantage is the time it takes to make tapioca pearls. It is also difficult to get the consistency right on the first few attempts.

Store-bought boba pearls will guarantee a degree of texture and taste to resemble those at a bubble tea shop. Wu Fu Yuan is a brand which we recommend. The brand has created several instant options that can cook in 5 minutes.

Using Food Colouring

A lot of recipes will call for the use of black food colouring as this is a traditional method to make tapioca pearls. There is no problem with using food colouring.

However, for the recipe below, we will be using brown sugar as a replacement. Using brown sugar is a good way to get a sweeter flavour and also colouring at the same time.

How do you know when black tapioca pearls are cooked?

When it hits a rolling boil, add the tapioca pearls and wait for them to float to the top of the water. Once the boba is floating, lower to medium heat. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. Stir occasionally to prevent the pearls from sticking.

Is black tapioca pearls good for you?

Tapioca is almost pure starch and contains very few nutrients. On its own, it has no impressive health benefits or adverse effects. However, it may sometimes be useful for people who need to avoid grains or gluten. 3 дня назад

What flavor are black tapioca pearls?

To give tapioca pearls their dark color, brown sugar is added. The sugar gives the pearls a richer hue and adds sweetness. Because it gives them a more visible appearance and often a sweeter flavor, black tapioca pearls are commonly used to make bubble tea.

How long should you cook tapioca pearls?

How to Cook Tapioca Pearls: Instructions. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a deep pot, and add the tapioca. Bring it to a boil again, cover, and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Is tapioca healthy to eat?

Nutrition. Tapioca starch contains no fat or cholesterol, which makes it a healthy choice for those watching their dietary cholesterol and saturated fat intake. Tapioca is also very low in sodium. One serving contains 20mg of calcium and 1.6mg of iron.

How do you add flavor to tapioca pearls?

Tapioca balls have very little flavor on their own, so when it is sweetened with honey, they taste much better.

Can tapioca pearls kill you?

You may not know, however, that the tapioca we use is a refined product whose parent plant is filled with dangerous toxins that, absent proper preparation, can result in cyanide poisoning and possible death.

Are tapioca pearls hard to digest?

The bobas, or bubbles, are made of tapioca starch. “It is a chewy sweet texture. Doctors say a large amount of Tapioca starch can be difficult to digest.

Is Tapioca a laxative?

Tapioca is a very starchy food that’s mostly made of carbohydrates. By itself, tapioca likely wouldn’t cause significant constipation, Felipez said. But the balls typically contain other additives that can contribute to constipation.

Why is tapioca out of stock?

widespread drought is expected to cut tapioca production in the 2020/2021 crop year by 10-20 percent.” Drought, coupled with staff shortages because of COVID-19, has slowed production of tapioca.

What is black boba called?

Also known as boba, black tapioca pearls are the perfect “bubbles” in bubble tea. They are small, round balls made from tapioca starch for a sweet and somewhat gummy consistency. Ours are the same boba pearls as those used at gourmet pearl milk tea shops.

Why is Boba bad for you?

Boba are basically all carbs — they lack any minerals or vitamins and contain no fiber. One bubble tea can contain as much as 50 grams of sugar and close to 500 calories. While one bubble tea here and there is unlikely to have severe effects on your health, it should absolutely not be consumed on a daily basis.

What do you use tapioca pearls for?

Smaller tapioca pearls are usually used for puddings, while the larger pearls are generally used in boba tea. It is also sold in flakes and powders, which are usually used to thicken sauces, soups, or gravies. Tapioca pearls can be found at most major grocery stores in the baking aisle.

Does Woolworths sell tapioca pearls?

Madam Wong Tapioca Pearl Colour 400g | Woolworths.

Can bubble tea give you cancer?

Potential Health Risk In 2012, researchers at the University Hospital Aachen in Germany obtained samples of tapioca pearls from an indiscriminate bubble tea chain located in northwestern Germany. They discovered that this sample contained carcinogenic chemicals, or PCBs, which are known to lead to cancer.

Cassava starch is called tapioca, which is processed into several forms, one of them being in the pearl or spherical form known as tapioca pearls. These pearls are opaque in their raw form and appear translucent when cooked. Tastessence gives you step-by-step instructions to make this gelatinous food at home.

How to make tapioca pearls

Cassava starch is called tapioca, which is processed into several forms, one of them being in the pearl or spherical form known as tapioca pearls. These pearls are opaque in their raw form and appear translucent when cooked. Tastessence gives you step-by-step instructions to make this gelatinous food at home.

How to make tapioca pearls

How to make tapioca pearls

How to make tapioca pearls

How to make tapioca pearls

How to make tapioca pearls

How to make tapioca pearls

Tapioca Love!

1. National Tapioca Pudding Day is on the 15th of July.
2. National Tapioca Day is on the 28th of June.

Tapioca is a form of starch that is extracted from the ‘cassava’ root. This plant is now cultivated all over the world, but its origin was in Portuguese. Tapioca is used in many different forms and in different recipes. It is widely used as a thickener in many recipes. The starch is made in different forms: flakes, rectangular sticks, soluble powder, and pearls. Pearls, being the most widely used, are in the range of 1 – 8 mm in diameter. They are normally white, unless colors are used while processing. The pearls become translucent and chewy when cooked.

Things You’ll Need

The Making of Tapioca Pearls

Step 1: Keep water for boiling.

Step 2: Remove the tapioca starch in a bowl.

Step 3: When the water is at its boiling point, switch off the gas and mix the water in the starch.

Optional: You can add any color if you want, at this stage.

Step 4: Keep mixing and knead until it forms a dough.

Step 5: Make small balls of the dough. The size depends on what you’re going to use it for.

Tip: The dough may start drying when you’re making the balls, so you can add some drops of water and knead it again.

Step 6: Let these balls dry for a few hours. You can keep it for drying overnight.

Step 7: After they are dried, cook them. For cooking, keep water for boiling. When it starts boiling, put the pearls into it and let it cook. Keep stirring frequently so that they do not stick to each other. You will see them floating above, which means that they are almost cooked. Cook it for some more time. You can taste one and decide on the time, depending on how chewy you want it to be. The total time might go up to 20 – 25 minutes.

Step 8: Drain the pearl out of the water and remove it in a bowl or some other liquid (e.g. sugar syrup or other juices).

Recipes to Use These Pearls

Use it in Bubble Tea

Tapioca pearls are normally white, but the pearls used in bubble teas are black in color. This black color is because of the brown sugar syrup.

In the last step (step 8 explained above), when you separate the pearls, put it in white sugar, brown sugar, and water mixture. The mixture is done in 1:1:2 proportion (take 1 cup of each brown and white sugar, and mix it with 2 cups of water and heat). The pearls firm up when you put them in the syrup. These pearls can then be used in your favorite flavored tea.

Use it in Tapioca Pudding

Small pearls are used in desserts normally. There are different ways of making a pudding everywhere. You can add tapioca pearls to your recipe and relish a great pudding.

Recipe
1. Stir milk, pearls, sugar, and salt together.
2. Boil the mixture and stir continuously.
3. Add beaten eggs and simmer it till the mixture is thick. It can be served cold or hot.

These tapioca pearls are relished all over the world in different forms. Try them to enjoy the flavor.

Make Tapioca Pearls

1. Place tapioca flour in a bowl.

2. Combine water and sugar together in a small pot and bring the sugar water to a boil (make sure the sugar has dissolved)

3. Turn off the stove and wait until the boiling has stopped, then sprinkle in 1/4 of the tapioca flour. Whisk until blended then add in the rest of the flour a quarter at a time.

4. Mix the dough until they start to stick together and separate from the pot.

5. Transfer the dough to a flat surface (cover with parchment paper if you have it available) and let it rest for a few minutes until it’s cool enough to handle with your hands

6. Knead until the dough becomes smooth with a texture of play-doh or clay.

7. Divide the dough into 2 (keep the other half in a sealed container to prevent it from drying out) and roll each dough with a rolling pin into a flat round disk (about 3/8” thick) and cut it into strips and then again into squares.

8. Roll each square piece in between your palms to make them round. Try to make them as even in size as possible and should be small enough to pass through your straw.

9. Cook the tapioca pearls or store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. To store in the freezer, dust the pearls with tapioca flour and spread them on a wide container. Once the tapioca pearls have hardened, you can transfer them into a zip lock bag to save space in the freezer.

How to make tapioca pearls

Cooking Tapioca Pearls

1. Bring 5 cups of water to a rolling boil in a medium pot over high heat.

2. Add the tapioca pearls to the boiling water and stir immediately to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. Stir until they all float to the top (2-3 minutes) then turn the heat down to medium low and cover with a lid to cook for 13-15 minutes (depending on your handmade boba size and desired consistency*)

3. Turn off the heat and let the tapioca pearls rest for another 15 minutes. Do NOT remove the lid.

4. Strain the tapioca pearls in a colander or a strainer, then rinse them with cold filtered water and strain again.

5. Transfer the tapioca pearls to a mixing bowl and mix in sugar. The heat from the tapioca pearls will dissolve the sugar. Allow 10 minutes for tapioca pearls to absorb the sweetness before serving. You can also make a sugar syrup instead to soak the tapioca pearls.

Cooked tapioca pearls is best kept warm or at room temperature. Once they become cold; the texture will harden and loose its chewiness.

*The cooking time can be reduced or added depending on how you like your tapioca pearls. For chewier texture, try 13 minutes on medium low simmer and 13 minute resting. For softer texture, try 15 minutes for both steps.

How to make tapioca pearls

How to make tapioca pearls

So this is how you can make tapioca pearls from scratch at home. I would love to hear how it goes for you. You can tag me on Instagram or share your comments below. I will follow up with another post on how to make classic milk tea from scratch to complement the freshly made tapioca pearls. Stay tuned and don’t forget to sign up to our newsletters for more fun boba intel!

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My Dad was not a simple man in many respects. As a young boy, he quit school and went to work to help support his family which included his parents, three brothers, and a sister, Pop being the youngest child in the family. He did odd jobs, including working in the local butcher shop which not only earned him some money to take home, but some things, like offal, to help feed the family.

He enlisted in the Army in WWII, saw combat with Company B, 310th Medical Battalion attached to the 338th Infantry Regiment (“Custer”) on the Fifth Army front in Italy and was the recipient of the Bronze Star for heroic achievement in action. Upon return home, he did what many men in the Coal Region did — got married and went into the mines.

A near fatal injury from falling rock in a bootleg mine in the 50s ended his days underground, but coal and the Coal Region were in his blood; he bought a tractor-trailer and hauled coal from Schuylkill County breakers to Philadelphia and New York City five days a week. When road taxes and operating expenses became too much of a burden, he sold the truck to “get away from coal”. Just months later, he fund himself once again involved with it and mining, only this time it was above-ground, driving massive Euclid trucks (“Yukes”) for a local breaker.

Although he tried at times, he was never truly able to escape the grasp Anthracite had on him. It followed him to his grave in 1989, after years of him fighting for breath as Black Lung ravaged this strong, hard-working, intelligent, loving man I am so proud to have had as a father. I know this world would be so much better off if only there were more like him.

One of Dad’s favorite things was tapioca pudding, but he only liked the large pearl tapioca. Many times in restaurants in the Coal Region, this pudding would be on the dessert menu, but he always grilled the waitress as to whether it was the “real” (pearl) tapioca or “that other stuff” (instant or quick-cook variety). I always remember Dad putting a splash of milk on top of this pudding along with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Mom often made it for him, and I remember helping her measure it out and put it in a bowl to soak. To this day, I never look at this recipe without seeing Pop, sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying a big bowl of this pudding.

Keep in mind

This simple homemade tapioca pudding, is creamy, rich, and filled with slightly chewy pearls of tapioca. Although simple to make, the pearl tapioca requires several hours soaking time, so plan accordingly. Don’t try to rush the soaking process or skimp on soaking time!

The tapioca pearl are cooked when they become translucent with a dot of cloudy center remaining. The pudding may seem runny immediately after cooking, it thickens upon cooling.

The tapioca pearls add the starch to this pudding to help thicken it, so SLOWLY bring the milk and tapioca up to where it starts to bubble and time your simmer from there…it may take 20-plus minutes or so for this step, don’t rush it! The starch that renders from the pearls is necessary to thicken the pudding properly.

We’re sure you’re aware that bubble tea and boba are very delicious. But now that you’ve had it from your favorite bubble tea or boba shop, you might be wondering, how can you make boba pearls at home from scratch. And will it be just as delicious?

Making tapioca pearls from scratch is easy. There are only a few ingredients you need and about an hour of your time, that’s it!
Continue reading to learn how to make tapioca pearls for boba and bubble tea from scratch.

What You Need to Make Tapioca Pearls from Scratch

Ingredients list for 1 cup serving of tapioca pearls.

  • ¼ cup of brown sugar or dark muscovado sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1.5 cups of tapioca starch

Yep, that’s really it! Whenever our team makes boba pearls from scratch we typically use dark muscovado sugar. Or we’ll use traditional dark brown sugar from popular brands like Domino. As for the tapioca starch, we’ll likely use either of these two brands (ERAWAN or Flying Horse). You can find these on Amazon or your local Asian market.

Once you have all your ingredients ready, we’re ready to start making boba pearls from scratch.

How to Make Tapioca Pearls from Scratch

To begin, grab your favorite pot so that we can mix everything together. Start by heating up your pot to medium-low heat and add your water in the pot. Once your water is heated thoroughly (not boiling), you can add in your brown sugar.

The amount of brown sugar you’ll need is above in the ingredients list, don’t forget!

Now that you have your water and brown sugar in the same pot, grab your handy stirring instrument. A wooden spoon will do the trick. Gently stir everything together until everything is well incorporated.

We like to use our favorite stirring stick from OXO since it’s easy to clean afterward.

After a minute or two, you should see the brown sugar and water dissolve together. Once everything is dissolved and you have no clumps, take your pot off the heat. We don’t want our brown sugar mixture to burn, sugar tends to burn really fast, which is why we have our heat on medium-low. Very important!

Now that your pot is off the heat, add 2-3 tablespoons of your tapioca starch into the mix. Gently stir it all together. You’ll have clumps at first (this is normal) but continue stirring until everything is incorporated. This is to prep our mixture before we add the rest of the tapioca starch.

Once that is done, we’ll put our mixture back on the heat but this time we’ll have it at low heat. Remember we’re not cooking anything here, we’re using the low heat to help mix everything together nicely. Now, put the rest of your tapioca starch in the pot (the amount is listed in the above ingredient list). And you guessed it, stir everything together until it’s all incorporated.

You’ll know when you’re done mixing when you have a smooth dough-like mixture without any lumps.

Now all is left is to roll your tapioca pearls dough into long noodle-like formations. This part reminds us of playing with play dough when we were younger. The width of your noodles should be around 0.8-1cm for the perfect bite.

Once you’ve rolled out a few noodles with those dimensions, begin to cut your dough into small bite-size pieces. We like to measure about 1cm for each single boba pearl. You can use a kitchen knife or dough knife or chopper to make your cuts.

Now that you have your dough cut into pieces, you can begin rolling the dough into small balls with your hands. The hard part is now done.

How to make tapioca pearls

How to Cook Tapioca Pearls

Cooking your freshly made tapioca pearl dough is even easier. It’s very similar to cooking your typical pasta. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in your freshly made tapioca dough balls.

As your tapioca balls are swimming in the boiling water be sure to stir gently very often. Tapioca balls tend to stick easily to pots or themselves if you don’t. Once all your tapioca balls are floating to the top, cook them for another minute or so and they should be ready.

The best way to test if your tapioca pearls are cooked fully to the right texture is to try them out yourself. This is similar to how you try cooked pasta to determine if it’s al dente enough. We like to take the same approach!

Now you’re all done making tapioca pearls from scratch at home! If you want to spice it up a bit you can add some syrup to give your boba pearls more flavor. But this is not necessary if you’re short on time. You can add these boba pearls as is once they’re done cooking to any of your favorite milk tea flavors.

How to Make Tapioca Pearls Taste Even Better

If you want to add more depth of flavor to your already delicious boba pearls, continue reading.

One way you can add more flavor to your boba pearls is by soaking them in a sweetener. One sweetener you can use is your everyday honey from Kirkland.

And the other way is to make some brown sugar syrup and soak your tapioca pearls in this. You can learn how to make brown sugar syrup here and soak your freshly cooked tapioca pearls here.

That’s all there is to making homemade boba pearls from scratch. Let us know how you make out with your boba pearls if you try this at home. We’re curious to see photos and your comments. If you’d like to read more articles from Talk Boba, have a look read on some of our most popular articles below. We’re sure you enjoy them as everyone else does.

Until next time, just talk about boba, duh!

How to make tapioca pearls

I’ve had a slew of bad tapioca milk tea experiences lately. The problem is usually the tapioca balls, also called pearls, bubbles or boba. They are so easy to make, but the ones I keep getting served are soft, not chewy, slimy, etc.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, tapioca milk tea originated from Taiwan and is served in various Asian tea cafes. It’s no longer limited to milk tea as there are also usually other fruit flavored tea beverages, slushies, etc. All of them usually offer the option of tapioca balls. which are brown balls that have a chewy texture.
How to make tapioca pearls
My favorite tea place is the Half & Half chain in Los Angeles, which makes honey boba. Tapioca balls have very little flavor on their own, so when it is sweetened with honey, they taste much better. Honey boba has become quite popular now and most of the new tea shops popping up usually make honey boba.

I used to make pearl milk tea all the time as a kid and before the tea cafes even came to the US. I remember it being quite easy, so after another bad boba experience, I decided to make my own and do a little tutorial on how best to make the perfect tapioca balls.

You can buy the tapioca balls at most Chinese markets like Ranch 99. This is the brand I usually buy. The most commonly found ones are the brown ones. I prefer the colored ones just because they are so much prettier. There are also green tea flavored ones. The instructions for how to make them are on the back of the package, which I mostly follow with a few modifications.
How to make tapioca pearlsHow to make tapioca pearlsHow to make tapioca pearlsHow to make tapioca pearls

How to Prepare Tapioca Pearls

How to make tapioca pearls

Step 1: Bring a small pot of water with about 1/4 cup of sugar to a boil and then drop in your tapioca balls. I usually do about 2 handfuls per each cup of tea. The pearls will soon expand and rise to the top.

How to make tapioca pearls

Step 2: Once the pearls rise to the top, turn down the stove to low and simmer the pearls for about 5 minutes, with the lid on (but allow steam to come out so the pot does not over boil).

How to make tapioca pearls

Step 3: Remove the pearls from the water and drop them in a bowl with a few tablespoons of honey. You want enough honey so that each ball touches the honey. You let the tapioca sit in the honey until it is ready to be consumed.

How to make tapioca pearls
You don’t want to put the pearls into your drink until the very last minute because once the pearls are in the drink, they will soon lose their chewy consistency.

For the most traditional milk tea, a black tea is usually used as the base. My favorite is actually oolong tea, which is a light brown color, and some other popular offerings include green tea and jasmine. Common ways to add the milk are milk powder, sugar, and fresh milk, or my favorite: condensed milk. You add just enough to your desired sweetness.
How to make tapioca pearls
The tapioca balls stay chewy for a few hours after cooking, so you never want to make them too long ahead of time. Also you can’t refrigerate them as they will completely lose their texture, so try not to make too much extra. This is a fun project if you have a large group or even if it’s just you. And it’s pretty easy to make and much cheaper than paying close to $4 per cup.
How to make tapioca pearls

How to make tapioca pearls

You may think that you have never eaten cassava, but you’re probably wrong. Cassava has many uses, and is, in fact, ranked fourth among staple crops, although most is grown in West Africa, tropical South America and South and Southeast Asia. When would you be ingesting cassava? In the form of tapioca. How do you make tapioca from cassava? Read on to find out about growing and making tapioca, tapioca plant uses, and about using cassava for tapioca.

How to Use Cassava

Cassava, also known as manioc, yucca and tapioca plant, is a tropical plant cultivated for its large roots. It contains toxic hydrocyanic glucosides which must be removed by peeling the roots, boiling them and then discarding the water.

Once the roots are prepped in this manner, they are ready to be used, but the question is, how to use cassava? Many cultures use cassava much like we use potatoes. The roots are also peeled, washed and then scraped or grated and pressed until the liquid has be squeezed out. The end produce is then dried to make flour called Farinha. This flour is used for preparing cookies, breads, pancakes, doughnuts, dumplings, and other foods.

When boiled, the milky juice thickens as it concentrates and is then used in West Indian Pepper Pot, a staple used for making sauces. The raw starch is used to make an alcoholic beverage that purportedly has healing qualities. The starch is also used as sizing and when doing laundry.

The tender young leaves are used much like spinach, albeit always cooked to eliminate the toxins. Cassava leaves and stems are used to feed livestock, as well as both fresh and dried roots.

Additional tapioca plant uses include utilizing its starch in the production of paper, textile, and as MSG, monosodium glutamate.

Growing and Making Tapioca

Before you can make tapioca from cassava, you need to obtain some roots. Specialty stores may have them for sale, or you can try growing the plant, which requires a very warm climate that is frost free year round and has at least 8 months of warm weather to produce a crop, and harvesting the tapioca plant roots yourself.

Cassava does best in conjunction with plenty of rain, although it can tolerate periods of drought. In fact, in some regions when the dry season occurs, the cassava becomes dormant for 2-3 months until the return of the rain. Cassava also does well in the poor of soil. These two factors make this crop one of the most valuable in terms of carbohydrate and energy production amongst all the food crops.

Tapioca is made from raw cassava wherein the root is peeled and grated to capture the milky fluid. The starch is then soaked in water for several days, kneaded, and then strained to remove impurities. It is then sifted and dried. The finished product is either sold as flour or pressed into flakes or the “pearls” that we are familiar with here.

These “pearls” are then combined at the rate of 1 part tapioca to 8 parts water and boiled to make tapioca pudding. These small translucent balls feel somewhat leathery but expand when introduced to moisture. Tapioca also features prominently in bubble tea, a favorite Asian beverage that is served cold.

Delicious tapioca may be, but it is absolutely lacking in any nutrients, although a serving has 544 calories, 135 carbohydrates and 5 grams of sugar. From a dietary standpoint, tapioca doesn’t seem to be a winner; however, tapioca is gluten free, an absolute boon to those sensitive or allergic to gluten. Thus, tapioca can be used to replace wheat flour in cooking and baking.

Tapioca can also be added to hamburger and dough as a binder that not only improves the texture but also the moisture content. Tapioca makes a great thickener for soups or stews. It is sometimes used alone or in conjunction with other flours, like almond meal, for baked items. Flatbread made from tapioca is commonly found in developing countries due to its low cost and versatility.