Tapioca has been around for centuries, and it’s one of the most widely-used ingredients in many dishes across the world.
It’s also known as cassava or manioc, but its origins can be traced back to the Amazon basin in South America.
The starchy root is eaten raw, boiled, roasted, or dried, depending on the region where it comes from.
The two main varieties of tapioca are white and black.
White tapioca is more commonly found in North America, while black tapioca is more common in Europe and Asia.
While both varieties have similar nutritional profiles, there are differences between them, especially when it comes to taste.
So what exactly is the difference between tapioca flour and tapioca starch?
What is tapioca flour?
Tapioca flour is made from ground tapioca roots that are processed into a powder form.
The resulting product is pale yellow and sweet in flavor.
Tapioca flour is used as a thickening agent in baking recipes, sauces, and soups.
When you make your own tapioca flour, you can either buy it readymade at the supermarket or grind it yourself using a blender or food processor.
If you want to grind your own tapioca flour, you will need a large quantity of tapioca roots, which you must wash thoroughly before peeling and grinding.
This is because the flour contains small particles of fiber that may not be removed during washing.
1. When to use tapioca flour
You can use tapioca flour to thicken sauces, gravies, and soups.
Tapioca flour works best with acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, so it won’t absorb much liquid.
You can add it directly to the sauce or soup you are making, or mix it with cold water first to thin out the mixture.
If you want to thicken up something like mashed potatoes, you should add the tapioca flour to boiling water first, then stir in the remaining ingredients.
Otherwise, adding it to the hot mixture could cause lumps to appear.
2. How to use tapioca flour
To get the best results, always follow these steps when using tapioca flour:
Add 1 cup (250 mL) of tapioca flour to 4 cups (1 L) of cold water.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the flour dissolves completely.
Let the mixture cool down slightly, then pour it into your pan of choice.
Stir in any additional ingredients, and cook the dish according to the recipe instructions.
What is tapioca starch?
Tapioca starch is made up of tiny granules that are formed during a process called gelatinization.
This process occurs when starch molecules are heated above their glass transition temperature (around 140°F).
When this happens, the starch molecules begin to move and change shape.
As temperatures increase, the starch molecules swell and eventually form small grains of starch.
Because these changes occur at high temperatures, they need to be done quickly to avoid overcooking.
Once cooked, the starch will continue to thicken liquids, making it useful for thickening sauces, gravies, soups, and pastas.
Tapioca starch is available in fine, medium, and coarse grain sizes.
While all three types can be used interchangeably, the finer the starch, the better it performs.
Medium-sized grains tend to work best when used in combination with other starches.
There are plenty of ways you can use tapioca starch in your cooking.
For example, you can add it to mashed potatoes, cakes, and breads.
You can even mix it into ice cream and yogurt for extra richness.
Are tapioca flour and tapioca starch the same thing?
Yes and no.
While tapioca flour and tapioca starch are both made from tapioca root, they come from different parts of the plant.
Tapioca flour comes from the whole tuber, while tapioca starch comes from the inner portion of the tuber called the endosperm.
When you buy tapioca flour, you’ll be able to see a lot of other ingredients mixed into it, including cornstarch, wheat flour, and sugar.
This is because the flour isn’t processed at all – it’s ground up from the entire tapioca root.
You may also find tapioca flour in liquid form, which is used as a thickening agent in baking recipes.
On the other hand, tapioca starch is typically extracted from the endosperm after the rest of the root has been removed.
This makes it much easier to use, since most of the tapioca starch will be pure without any other ingredients mixed in.
This is why you won’t find tapioca starch in liquid form.
If you want to make your own tapioca flour, you’ll need to grind it up yourself, using a blender or food processor.
If you’re looking for a quick fix, though, you can buy pre-ground tapioca flour online.
How are tapioca flour and tapioca starch different?
To begin with, we should note that tapioca is not actually a fruit or vegetable.
Instead, it’s a tuberous plant native to tropical regions, such as Africa, Asia, and South America.
In fact, the name “tapioca” comes from Tupi, an indigenous language spoken in Brazil.
It’s made up of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats, and fiber.
However, the starches and sugars found in tapioca don’t make it suitable for baking.
That means if you want to use it instead of wheat flour, you need to add something else to your mix.
Flour is essentially ground grain, whereas starch is broken down into smaller pieces.
This makes flour much easier to work with than starch, which requires additional processing before cooking.
Starch is typically used in sauces, soups, gravies, and other food items that require thickening agents.
As a result, tapioca flour is often added to foods that aren’t necessarily intended to be baked, like smoothies, ice cream, and pudding.
On the flip side, tapioca starch is mainly used in baked goods, including cakes, cookies, breads, pastries, and pies.
That said, tapioca starch and flour are both made from the same ingredient – cassava.
The difference lies in how the starch is processed.
What are some uses for tapioca flour?
Tapioca flour is used primarily for thickening sauces, soups, and other dishes.
While you might think that tapioca flour would only work well with savory foods, companies often use it to add thickness to desserts, too.
It’s also a popular ingredient for gluten-free bakers.
Some people who follow a gluten-free diet avoid using tapioca flour because they find it too sweet.
However, this isn’t always true, since some brands make their products even sweeter than traditional flours.
For example, we recently reviewed Dandies Gluten Free Flourless Chocolate Cake, which contains 1.8 ounces (55 grams) of sugar per serving.
You’ll typically see tapioca flour sold in small containers, so it’s easy to keep on hand for baking and cooking.
You can usually find it at grocery stores, specialty retailers, and online stores.
What are some uses for tapioca starch?
In addition to being a staple ingredient in many traditional recipes, tapioca starch is often used in baking.
You might think that this means you need to buy a box of cake mix, but that isn’t necessarily true.
Many grocery stores carry premade cakes made with tapioca starch, which makes it easy to whip up something delicious without too much effort.
If you want to add your own flair to your baked goods, try experimenting with different flavor combinations, such as chocolate, vanilla, rum, and coffee.
Some people use tapioca starch as an alternative to wheat flour, but it’s not recommended to replace all of your grains with this ingredient.
While it’s a good option if you don’t eat gluten, it doesn’t have the same nutritional benefits as other types of starches.
For example, it’s missing fiber and protein, so you should only use it in small amounts.
Can tapioca flour be used as a substitute for tapioca starch?
If you’ve ever purchased tapioca flour at your local supermarket, then you may have noticed that it’s sold under multiple names.
In the United States, it goes by the name ‘tapioca starch,’ while in other parts of the world, it’s referred to as ‘tapioca flour.’
This is because not all tapioca products contain flour.
While some manufacturers will label their products as ‘flour,’ others will use the term ‘starch.’
So if you want to find out which one of these terms is correct, we’re here to help.
As you might expect, tapioca flour is made up of ground up tapioca roots, while tapioca starch is created through the process of soaking the roots until they become soft before grinding them up into a powder.
In addition to this, tapioca flour doesn’t need to be refrigerated, while tapioca starch does.
This means that tapioca flour is ideal for baking, while tapioca starch isn’t suitable for making baked goods.
However, it is still a good choice for thickening sauces and gravies.
It should also be noted that tapioca flour and tapioca starch aren’t interchangeable with each other.
Tapioca flour is usually used in savory recipes, while tapioca starch is typically used in sweet recipes.
Although tapioca flour and tapioca starch are often used interchangeably, they don’t always work in the same way.
For example, tapioca flour is water based, meaning that it dissolves easily in boiling water.
On the other hand, tapioca starch is oil based, so it won’t dissolve in hot water unless it’s first mixed with oil.
As such, if you want to create a smooth sauce, you’ll need to mix tapioca flour with water before adding it to the dish.
If you want to thicken a soup or stew, however, you’ll need to add tapioca starch instead.
With all this information in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use tapioca flour and tapioca starch.
What are the benefits of tapioca flour?
Not only does tapioca flour have a long history of use in cooking and baking, it’s also an important food source for people with diabetes who need to control their blood sugar levels.
Tapioca flour is high in fiber, which helps keep your digestive system healthy and keeps you feeling full longer.
In addition to being a great source of fiber, tapioca flour contains resistant starch, which is beneficial for those suffering from digestive issues.
Resistant starch takes longer to digest than other starches, so it keeps you fuller for much longer.
When choosing whether to use tapioca flour or tapioca starch, consider the following:
Tapioca flour is made using a process that uses less water, making it drier and therefore easier to digest.
If you suffer from diarrhea, tapioca flour may help alleviate symptoms.
Tapioca flour has a higher protein content compared to tapioca starch.
This makes it more suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Tapioca flour is lower in calories and fat compared to tapioca starch, but still offers a good amount of nutrition.
It’s easy to see how tapioca flour could be used in many different ways, but here are some recipes to get you started:
1. Chocolate Cake Recipe
This recipe combines both tapioca flour and tapioca starch to create a moist chocolate cake.
You’ll find that this recipe gives you more control over the texture of the final product, because you can adjust the ratio of tapioca flour to tapioca starch to achieve the desired consistency.
2. French Toast Casserole Recipe
If you prefer something lighter, try this recipe for French toast casserole.
The tapioca flour acts as a binder for the eggs and milk, giving you a creamy yet light dish that’s perfect for breakfast or brunch.
3. Muffins Recipe
Muffins are another classic dish that works well with tapioca flour.
These muffin mixes include tapioca flour to give them extra structure and help them hold up better.
They’re also great if you want to make sure the muffins don’t fall apart too easily during transport.
4. Banana Bread Recipe
Banana bread is just about as American as apple pie, and it’s no surprise that it was invented here.
This classic recipe uses both tapioca flour and tapioca starch to bind together the banana bread batter.
The result is a soft, dense loaf that won’t crumble under heavy handling.
5. Biscuits Recipe
Biscuits are delicious, but they require quite a bit of time and effort.
Fortunately, these biscuits take very little time to prepare, thanks to tapioca flour and tapioca starch.
They also come out perfectly fluffy and light, and they’ll keep fresh for a few days without drying out or getting soggy.
6. Chicken Fingers Recipe
Chicken fingers are often made with breadcrumbs, but this recipe shows how you can make chicken fingers without any additional ingredients.
Instead, you can use tapioca flour to add texture and moisture to the coating.
The result is crispy, juicy chicken fingers that will satisfy even picky eaters.
7. Pasta Recipe
Pasta is a staple of Italian cuisine, and it’s no wonder that it’s such a popular dish in Italy.
However, you can replicate authentic Italian pasta dishes at home simply by swapping out regular flour for tapioca flour.
That means you can enjoy all the flavors and textures of traditional Italian dishes without the carbs!
How To Make Self-Rising Flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- To make your self-rising flour, combine 1 cup (120 grams) of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Stir well and store in an airtight container.
- Self-rising flour can be used in any recipe for self-rising or all-purpose flour.
- Remember that the baking powder and salt will already be incorporated, so you may want to reduce the amount of baking powder and salt called for in the recipe.
- If you don’t have self-rising flour and need to make a quick bread, simply combine 1 cup (120 grams) of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Stir well and proceed with the recipe.