Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root, a tuber native to South America. The cassava root is relatively easy to grow and a dietary staple inseveral countries in Africa, Asia and South America. Tapioca is almost pure starch and has very limited nutritional value. It is naturally gluten-free, so it can serve as a wheat substitute in cooking and baking.
Production varies by location, but always involves squeezing starchy liquid out of ground cassava root.Once the starchy liquid is out, the water is allowed to evaporate. When all the water has evaporated, a fine tapioca powder is left behind.
1. Gluten and grain-free bread: Tapioca flour can be used in bread recipes, although it's often combined with other flours.
2. Thickener: It can be used as a thickener for soups, sauces and gravies. It's cheap, has a neutral flavor and great thickening power.
3. Binding agent: It's added to burgers, nuggets and dough to improve texture and moisture content, trapping moisture in a gel-like form and preventing sogginess.