It’s no secret that tapioca flour has been gaining momentum as the go-to gluten free flour product. However, if the gluten-free lifestyle has spilled over into your baking, differentiating between the boatload of tapioca products that have littered the market can be an uphill battle.
Moreover, when other similar ingredients such as cassava flour and cornstarch are thrown into the mix, it only adds a layer of confusion. In this guide, we’ll delve into whether or not there’s a difference between tapioca starch vs. tapioca flour and much more. Read on!
What Is Tapioca Flour?
It stems from the crushed pulp of the cassava root, a woody shrub to the Caribbean and South America. While they originate from the same plant, tapioca flour and cassava flour vary. The latter uses the entire root, whereas tapioca flour only uses the starchy pulp.
As is the case with other starches, tapioca flour is a white, fine powder that blends perfectly with gluten-free baking. As an excellent substitute for cornstarch, tapioca flour comes in handy as a thickener for pies such as a vegan shepherd’s pie, colorful vegetable pie, healthy pumpkin whoopee pie, sauces, gravies, pudding, and dough. It aids in the creation of a chewy texture and crisp crust in baking.
Tapioca flour is typically used in light and puffy cheese rolls and a popular Brazilian treat known as Pão de Queijo. Furthermore, it’s soaring in popularity in a multitude of Paleo diet recipes.
What Is Tapioca Starch?
Dried yuca is usually termed as cassava flour or tapioca starch and is derived from the dried root with a ton of culinary uses. From a nutritional standpoint, tapioca starch doesn’t stand out much, and a 100-gram portion has 360 calories that are usually carbohydrates.
Cassava flour doesn’t deliver a considerable quantity of minerals, fatty acids, protein, or vitamins. In a nutshell, its nutritional profile is strikingly similar to wheat, with the only variation being that it’s gluten-free.
Pros of Tapioca Starch
- Modified tapioca starch has properties that aid in lowering insulin levels
- As a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour, tapioca starch is an excellent alternative for anyone with celiac disease.
- With the absence of cholesterol or fat, tapioca starch is a healthy alternative for weight watchers or anyone that has adopted a healthier lifestyle.
- Lacking in protein, tapioca starch is perfect for anyone trying to cut their protein intake.
Cons of Tapioca Starch
- Regarded as ‘empty’ calories, tapioca starch supplies the body with energy with minimal nutritional benefits.
- With a high glycemic index, tapioca starch can easily trigger a spike in blood sugar and insulin and should be consumed in moderation.
Pros of Tapioca Flour
- Its high carbohydrate content aids in the natural gaining of weight.
- Tapioca flour has folic acids and B-complex vitamins that diminish the likelihood of neural defects in infants.
- Rich in vitamin K, tapioca flour lowers the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and is a beast in triggering neural activity in the brain and eliminating free radicals.
- It’s rich in carbohydrates that come in the form of sucrose.
- It has a high fiber content that helps build up the stool, thereby improving the digestive tract.
- Tapioca flour helps in eradicating intestinal pain, colorectal cancer, and bloating.
Cons of Tapioca Flour
- If it’s overused in a recipe, tapioca flour will not only give the dish an overpowering taste but also make it unpleasantly slimy.
- If not prepared, cooked, or processed correctly, tapioca flour can be poisonous.
Key Features of Tapioca Starch
Here’s a breakdown of the key attributes of tapioca starch.
- Upon mixing it with certain chemicals or water, tapioca starch becomes extremely viscous and remains in this state for a while.
- In its raw form, Tapioca starch is a staple in a boatload of recipes, including tapioca pellets and extruded snacks.
- As a remarkable thickener, tapioca starch is a beast at improving the texture of sauces, soups, and creams.
- Its neutral, bland taste makes tapioca starch ideal for an additive to elevate recipes without affected flavors. It’s typically added to meat products to boost their firmness coupled with moisture retention. Furthermore, it boosts the chewiness of noodles.
- When it comes to the production of paper, tapioca starch boosts its strength and water resistance. Therefore, it comes as no surprise then that it’s used in the making of cardboards and envelopes.
- As a bleaching agent, tapioca starch is a lifesaver in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical sectors. It’s also used to make an array of soaps and face creams.
- In the textile industry, tapioca starch diminishes the splitting and breakage of fabrics by minimizing their stiffness. As a result, it creates brightness and durability of products such as dyes, given that it acts as a color carrier.
- In other industries, tapioca starch is the Holy Grail in adhesive material used as a binder in a multitude of commercial applications. They range from the production of animal feed, plywood, self-degrading plastic packaging, tires, and detergent, to plaster ceiling.
Key Features of Tapioca Flour
Below are the main attributes of tapioca flour that set it apart from the pack.
- It can make maltose, fructose, biscuits, resin, monosodium, prawns, coating, bread, alcohol, plastic fiber plastic film, beer, sauce, fans, and glucose.
- In any Chinese household, more so, in Fujian, tapioca flour is the better option to uniformly mix with meat and water, thereby enhancing the taste.
Tapioca Starch vs. Tapioca Flour: Standout Features
Granted, both substances have a few similarities. However, they differ in a few ways, as discussed below.
- Tapioca powder: It’s derived after drying and crushing the tapioca once it’s peeled. Alternatively, the powdery particles acquired after the drying and peeling process are usually produced by the family workshop.
- Tapioca Starch: As a type of starch derived by the entire assembly line, it has a fairly complex processing technology that entails concentration, cleaning, screening, peeling, drying, crushing, filtration, and dehydration. In turn, fine powder particles of top-notch quality are usually the product of an industrial assembly line.
In a nutshell, tapioca starch is a product of unnecessary impurities and fiber that has been removed. Moreover, it has more fineness compared to tapioca powder.
- Tapioca Flour: Typically powdery, when tapioca flour is boiled with water, it not only appears transparent but also has a taste that’s strikingly similar to a piece of elastic. It’s usually used in food processing, for instance, puddings, crystal dumplings, and sweet dumplings.
- Tapioca Starch: It’s a fine powder that doesn’t form when heated in water.
In summary, tapioca starch has a superior fineness to tapioca powder.
One major difference between tapioca starch and tapioca flour is that the former is obtained from the cassava plant's starch (hence the name), whereas the latter is derived from its root. Nonetheless, both are hauled from Manihot Esculenta.
What Are the Best Brands of Tapioca Flour and Tapioca Starch?
Below are 4 top brands for both substances that won’t usher in disappointment:
1. Anthony’s Goods
The entire vibe of this company is soaring in popularity, and it’s not hard to see why. Anthony’s Goods specializes in a myriad of flours and starches to promote a healthier lifestyle. It was built to fruition as a company and brand to sell smaller quantities of starches and flours of what would usually be 1-pound bags from local retail stores.
However, in today’s digital era, this isn’t the most convenient way to shop, right? Most people yearn for utmost convenience, and that’s precisely what Anthony’s Goods provide.
2. Bob’s Red Mill
As one of the most legitimate companies out there that practice genuine company values, Bob’s Red Mill is a brand that was spawned by love by two gentlemen; Charlie and Bob. It’s known that once Bob smelled and tasted a memorable loaf of bread that Charlie had baked back in the day, it was only uphill from there. Delivering incredible natural products to the world, for instance, this tapioca starch, Bob’s Red Mill makes sure you’re taken care of.
3. Pure Organic Ingredients
It doesn’t get any simpler than this brand. Pure Organic Ingredients is here to serve just one purpose, and that is providing you with organic products of unmatched quality, for instance, their tapioca flour. While their branding is straight to the point, it’s aesthetically pleasing. It exudes immense simplicity that screams ‘read me!’ Therefore, it comes as no surprise that consumers delight in their incredible products and get to adopt healthier lifestyles by consuming them. Go ahead and give them a try and the chances of you being disappointed are slim to none.
As a brand specializing in tapioca starch, Erawan is perfect for anyone looking to try out new techniques at an affordable price. The powdery, silky consistency makes the perfect addition to pizza to give the crust appealing crispiness that some people crave, deodorizer for your shoes, and body butter.
To Sum It Up
In the Tapioca Starch vs. Tapioca Flour debate, the bottom line is that they are strikingly similar with a few minor differences that could make you pick one over the other.
For instance, if you’re looking for impressive results when thickening a dish, then tapioca starch is the better option than tapioca flour due to its superior viscosity when mixed with water. For more versatile use in the kitchen, tapioca flour is a better choice as it pairs well with different flavors. Nonetheless, it all boils down to preference.