What Is Tapioca Starch?
When we hear the word tapioca, we often think about the chewy and delicious pearls found in our pudding dessert or bubble tea drinks. But let’s all admit it; most of us don’t know what tapioca looks like before adding it in different dishes or what uses it has other than being a garnish on our favorite desserts! This is what it looks before they’re added to your bubble tea.
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Tapioca is a kind of starch that comes from the root of cassava. It can be in a form of flour—similar to cornstarch—and used as a thickening agent in so many dishes, such as dessert and soups. And for those who are into gluten-free diet, there is good news for you! Tapioca is gluten-free, so it’s the best starch to use as a substitute for wheat starch (mainly listed as flour in the menu) in breads. Tapioca starch has many uses. It’s just that we’re more familiar with its pearl form while floating in our milk tea drinks!
Are you in need of tapioca starch right now for your dish, but haven’t got any? Don’t worry because you can use cornstarch as a substitute for it, although you must know that there are many better, alternative, starches that you can use. Some are listed below.
Tapioca Starch Substitute: Arrowroot Starch
If there is no tapioca starch at your local grocery shops, the next best substitute you can use is arrowroot starch. Same as tapioca, it is a neutral-tasting thickening agent. Also, the liquid form remains clear and has a glossy surface just as tapioca starch has. Another similarity it has with tapioca is that it’s gluten-free, so it’s beneficial for those who are into gluten-free diet. And to top that, arrowroot starch is much better when it comes to withstanding acidic ingredients and is also more nutritional. However, as much as arrowroot starch will be your best bet to substitute for tapioca starch, there are also disadvantages. Arrowroot starch can’t be subjected to heat for long periods of time, as it will break down and lose its properties. If you’ll use it, add it to your dish at the last minute. It’s also not good for thickening dairy because it will result into a slimy texture. Extra tip on how to use an arrowroot starch as a substitute for thickener: Stir the arrowroot starch in cold water first before adding it to your dish. Arrowroot starch is not used on 1:1 ratio of the starch it replaces. Try to use 1/3 or ½ the amount of starch required.
Tapioca Starch Substitute: Potato Starch
Another decent alternative starch you can substitute for tapioca is potato starch. From the name itself, it’s obvious that it is extracted from the root of a potato. It is gluten-free, same as tapioca starch, so it’s still a good substitute but that doesn’t mean it’s a health food because it lacks nutrients. (Note: Potato flour and potato starch are slightly different from each other when it comes to its nutrients, as the flour comes from the vegetable itself while the starch only comes from the root; so the former has all the nutrients. What are other benefits of using it as a substitute for tapioca? It provides a glossy surface, same as tapioca, when turned into liquid form. It is also a resistant starch, meaning it can travel into the digestive system without being changed, which is good for blood sugar management. When you consume potato starch, use half as much of it than how much tapioca your menu requires and always use the slurry method to get better results.
Tapioca Starch Substitute: Clear Jel
There is one that is also very effective as a substitute for tapioca starch and that is a Clear Jel starch. It is a modified food starch that is commonly used for canning fruit pie fillings. The good thing about this substitute is that it can withstand both high and freezing temperatures, and it gives a clear surface just like tapioca starch. Replace the tapioca with half as much of Clear Jel. The disadvantage of using it is that it is not something you can always find at a grocery store!
Tapioca Starch Substitute: Cornstarch
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The most common thickening agent we use is cornstarch. Yes, it can be a substitute for tapioca, but the results you’ll get from it as compared to when you use tapioca will be very obvious. There’s a benefit, however. For one thing, compared to tapioca or other starches, it won’t lose its properties even when subjected to prolonged cooking. And to add to that, cornstarch is gluten-free, same as tapioca! The disadvantage is that it doesn’t complement acidic or sugary ingredients. Furthermore, it’s slightly cloudy as it doesn’t have a transparent appearance when compared to tapioca. Tips on using cornstarch as a substitute for tapioca: 1. Mix the cornstarch with sugar that would be on your pie filling to avoid lumps. 2. Cornstarch thickens better at high temperature. Note: If you’re planning to freeze your pie, cornstarch is not a good substitute for tapioca because it tends to get spongy in cold temperature.
Tapioca Starch Substitute: Wheat Flour
Okay, if you’re really out of tapioca starch or any other starches, you can use wheat flour. Yes, it’s good as a substitute for thickening agent, but it’s definitely not a good substitute for flavor—unlike tapioca starch flour has its own flavor, so that will contribute to the dish. Also, flour is not gluten-free, so if you’re using it as a substitute for tapioca, you’re most likely ruining your diet. Another reason why it’s not a good substitute for tapioca is because its appearance, when turned into a liquid form, tends to be cloudy. Furthermore, wheat flour is not the best when freezing a pie because it separates when frozen. The only thing that flour does best when you substitute it for tapioca is its thickening purpose.
Additional! Measurement For Making Substitutes
1 tablespoon of cornstarch is 2 tablespoons of tapioca 1 tablespoon of potato starch is 2 tablespoons of tapioca 1 tablespoon of arrowroot is 2 tablespoons of tapioca 2 tablespoons of wheat flour is 2 tablespoons of tapioca