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Tapioca Flour

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Tapioca Flour

s.parthasarathy, ug agrl student, annamalai university

Tapioca flour is commonly used as a food thickener. If you ever run short of tapioca flour, you can use its substitutes as well. We have presented you a list of substitutes and their approximate measurement, required to thicken food. Check out.

Tapioca flour is made from the roots of tapioca plant (Manihot esculenta), which is originally a native to Amazon. Today cultivation of this plant is carried out throughout the world owing to its plentiful uses in cooking. Tapioca is also recognized by common names like, cassava, yuca, mandioca, aipim, boba, etc. The roots are ground to produce the starch which is further processed to form powder, flakes, sticks and pearls. Tapioca flour comes as powder and due to its water absorbing ability, it's used in thickening gravies, soups, etc. 

If you run short of tapioca flour while preparing any dish, then its substitutes will come in use. The composition of a substitute is almost similar to tapioca flour and so is its usefulness. The common substitutes are cornstarch, potato starch, arrowroot, rice flour etc.

Substitutes for Tapioca Flour

You should know the exact method of preparing the substitute and the quantity required. Some other alternatives that you can use are kuzu powder, sago starch, sahlab, soy starch, sweet potato starch, sweet rice flour and water chestnut flour. All these ingredients are readily available in departmental stores. Everything regarding the preparation and quantity is explained in the instruction manual that comes along with the packets. Follow them accordingly to make a good substitute for tapioca flour. You can also use almond flour, garbanzo bean flour and coconut flour as substitutes. 

We have provided you a measurement chart of the substitutes for your reference.

  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or corn flour = 2 tablespoons of instant tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon of potato starch or rice starch or flour = 2 tablespoons of instant tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour = 2 tablespoons of instant tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon of Arrowroot = 2 tablespoons of instant tapioca flour

Tips to Use the Substitutes

No matter whether you are using tapioca flour or its substitute, if the quantity is not in proportion, the food might not acquire the desired taste and consistency. For example, if you are using the thickener for filling pies, then add 2 tablespoons of  tapioca flour in one cup of water. You can also combine it with potato starch or rice flour to increase the density of soups, sauce and stews. Xanthan gum is also an excellent substitute for tapioca flour. Mix tapioca flour with cornstarch or soy starch to prepare meat sauce. Arrowroot powder makes wonderful gravies for Chinese dishes.

Uses of Tapioca Flour 

Tapioca flour is a natural ingredient and is free from gluten. Apart from changing the composition of food, it also renders a unique taste to it. The common uses of tapioca flour are:

  • Tapioca flour is largely used for making milk based dessert puddings and fruit juices.
  • In Taiwan, this is widely used to add texture to tea. Tapioca pearls soaked in sugar is used to prepare bubble tea or pearl milk tea.
  • Tapioca flour is used in gravies and pie fillings.
  • It is also used as a thickener in stews, sauces and soups. You can freeze it for sometime after mixing with tapioca flour
  • You can even thicken dairy products with tapioca flour.
  • It's used in combination with white rice flour for preparing pancakes, waffles, crackers, pizzas and cookies.
  • Tapioca flour is commonly used to make French bread and white bread.

The substitutes can also be used for the same purposes. With so many alternatives at hand, I'm sure you will not have to compromise with the taste of the dishes that you are cooking.

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.