What Is Cassava Flour

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What Is Cassava Flour
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Whether it beats out the vitamin and mineral contents of white flour depends on whether or not it has been enriched or had synthetic nutrients added to it.

How to Use Tapioca

Use this pantry staple in baking, frying, and, of course, making boba tea and pudding.

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Published on January 25, 2023

Tapioca flour

With bubble tea mania still sweeping the nation, the spotlight on tapioca is brighter than ever. But there are many more uses for tapioca than making homemade boba or pudding. Once you realize that you can use it as a simple thickening agent and coating, tapioca can be as much a part of your everyday cooking as cornstarch or flour. Here’s how to get started working with it.

What is tapioca?

Tapioca is the name of the extracted starch from the pulp of the cassava root. Cassava is a popular tuber native to South America, but can be found in many other places with tropical climates, such as Thailand and Nigeria. Through a process called washing and pulping, cassava root is grated and the starch is soaked in water for a few days. After some additional kneading, the starch mixture is strained, sifted, and dried. Voila! You have tapioca.

Are tapioca flour and cassava flour the same thing?

Though both products are gluten-free and come from the same plant, tapioca flour and cassava flour are different. Tapioca flour only uses the starch from the pulp of the root while cassava flour is flour made from the whole root.

How do you use tapioca?

Tapioca has no flavor, which makes it extremely versatile and helps it integrate into recipes seamlessly. Tapioca flour is an essential ingredient in the Brazilian cheese bread Pão de Queijo, giving the bread its famously chewy texture. You can also use tapioca to thicken soups, stews, and gravies to get that perfect satisfying texture. One of the best things about tapioca as a thickener is that it can absorb liquids before they reach a boiling temperature. This means you can thicken pie fillings quickly without waiting for them to come to temperature. During the holiday baking season, tapioca flour is my salvation while making fruit pies, helping the filling keep its shape without muddying the color or adding an unpleasant starchy taste.

Tapioca flour is also an excellent help when frying food. First, it creates that golden-hued crust that gets you salivating. It also helps create that prized shatter-worthy crackle from a first bite of a perfectly fried piece of food, as with the Extra-Crispy Fried Fish Adam Evans serves at Automatic Seafood and Oysters in Birmingham, Alabama.

You can use tapioca flour to make pearls, or buy pearls. Tapioca pearls are used to make puddings, like Kay Chun’s Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango and Lime or Bill Kim’s Bubble Sundaes with Peach-Blueberry Compote.

How to buy tapioca

You’ll find two main tapioca products at the store; tapioca pearls or tapioca flour or starch. Tapioca flour and starch are the same product, just with different names. They can be found online or in the baking aisle of most grocery stores along with other varieties of flour and thickening agents.

cassava

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Alternate titles: Manihot esculenta, Manihot utilissima, mandioc, manioc, yuca
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cassava

Related Topics: root vegetable vegetable sago tapioca farinha . (Show more)

cassava

cassava, (Manihot esculenta), also called manioc, mandioca, or yuca, tuberous edible plant of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) from the American tropics. It is cultivated throughout the tropical world for its tuberous roots, from which cassava flour, breads, tapioca, a laundry starch, and an alcoholic beverage are derived. Cassava probably was first cultivated by the Maya in Yucatán.

Cyanide and food preparation

cassava preparation

Two cyanide-producing sugar derivatives, known as cyanogenic glucosides, occur in varying amounts in most varieties. Indigenous peoples developed a complex refining system to remove the poison by grating, pressing, and heating the tubers. To safely prepare most small “sweet” varieties for use as a vegetable, the skin should be generously peeled off, the tubers must be well cooked, and the cooking water drained off. Some cassava tubers are also soaked beforehand to leach the harmful chemicals. The preparation of cassava flour is usually from larger “bitter” roots, which require significant work to remove the poisons, and can include long soaking times, fermentation, and exposing the cassava paste to the air for several hours. The poison ( hydrocyanic acid) has been used for darts and arrows. Improper preparation can cause acute cyanide intoxication, and long-term exposure to the cyanogenic glucosides is associated with goitres, chronic pancreatitis, and a nerve disorder known as ataxic neuropathy.

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Physical description

cassava

Cassava is a perennial plant with conspicuous, almost palmate (fan-shaped) leaves resembling those of the related castor-oil plant but more deeply parted into five to nine lobes. The fleshy roots are reminiscent of dahlia tubers. Different varieties range from low herbs to branching shrubs and slender unbranched trees. Some are adapted to dry areas of alkaline soil and others to acid mud banks along rivers.

Uses

Cassava is a good source of dietary fibre as well as vitamin C, thiamin, folic acid, manganese, and potassium. The tubers have a mild nutty taste and are commonly eaten as root vegetables in stews or as side dishes. Food items such as the gelatinous fufu of West Africa and the bammy of Jamaica come from cassava. Additional cassava products include an alcoholic beverage known as kasiri that is made by Indians in South America, the powdery casabe cakes of Yucatán, and tapioca, the only cassava product on northern markets. Cooked cassava leaves can also be eaten and are an important ingredient in soups and stews in parts of Central Africa.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Melissa Petruzzello.

What Is Cassava Flour and Why You Should Avoid It

cassava flour

Cassava is a starchy root vegetable and a major source of carbohydrates in many parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.

Cassava isn’t something Western cultures eat much of, but it’s a staple food in the tropical regions where it’s grown. If you’re a gluten-free baker, you may be considering trying cassava flour in place of regular flour. You don’t need to avoid cassava flour, but it’s not the most nutritious option.

Tip

Cassava flour is made from the starchy root vegetable. It’s high in carbs, but it doesn’t contain some of the healthful nutrients other flours provide, so you should eat it in moderation.

What Is Cassava Flour?

Cassava is a starchy root vegetable and a major source of carbohydrates in many parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. According to the USDA, people in Africa also eat the leaves of the cassava plant, and the juice can be fermented to make a syrup and a liquor called kasiri. To make flour, the cassava root is roasted or sun-dried and ground.

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In Africa, cassava flour is used as a partial substitute for wheat flour, and that is how it is primarily used in the West — as grain-free replacement for wheat and other grain-based flours. This is a boon for those who can’t eat gluten, as well as those who follow restrictive diets such as the Paleo diet and the Whole30.

Nutrition of Cassava Flour

But how does it stack up nutritionally? It’s an important source of nutrition for many people all over the world, but is it the best choice for someone who has access to a wide array of other flours?

That depends on what you’re comparing it to. If you’re measuring it up against all-purpose white flour, it’s nutritionally superior. White wheat flour has been refined and stripped of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Cassava flour provides more protein and fiber than white flour, according to data from the USDA National Nutrient Database.

Whether it beats out the vitamin and mineral contents of white flour depends on whether or not it has been enriched or had synthetic nutrients added to it.

In comparison to whole-wheat flour and common gluten-free flours, including almond, brown rice and chickpea flours, cassava doesn’t fare as well. Cassava doesn’t provide any protein, but whole wheat, brown rice and chickpea flours are rich sources with between 7 to 22 grams per 100 grams of flour.

Cassava flour has more fiber than rice flour but less than whole wheat and chickpea flours. Cassava flour is lower in vitamins and minerals than enriched white flour, whole-wheat flour, chickpea flour and brown rice flour.

Cassava Poison Risk

You may have heard warnings that you should avoid cassava because it’s poisonous. However, this is both true and false. The plant does indeed contain cyanogenic glycosides, which are chemical compounds that are present in more than 2,000 plant species, according to the Centre for Food Safety of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

On their own, these compounds are not very harmful, but when they are broken down during digestion, they release hydrogen cyanide, which is toxic to humans and other animals.

How much of these compounds cassava has depends on the type. Sweet cassava is relatively low in them, with less than 50 milligrams per kilogram, whereas bitter cassava contains significantly higher amounts — more than 400 milligrams per kilogram. The USDA warns that bitter cassava should not be eaten raw, but it is OK to eat it cooked.

Should You Eat It?

Most commercial cassava flour has been properly processed to remove the harmful glycosides and carries no risk of cassava poisoning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that involves soaking the roots in water for several days, then drying them in the sun or roasting them. After that, the outer covering is removed and the roots are ground into flour. If any of these steps are not thoroughly executed, the levels of cyanogenic compounds remain high.

Although rare, there have been cases of cyanide poisoning from improperly processed cassava flour. Manufacturers can test their products before they reach the consumer to ensure safety. When choosing a product, check to see that this testing has been performed.

From a nutritional standpoint, cassava flour isn’t your best choice. It’s high in carbohydrates but low in fiber and protein compared to alternatives. Whenever possible, choose alternative flours with higher nutritional value, such as brown rice, chickpea, almond and coconut flours.