What Is Tapioca?
The tapioca pudding that you eat is not something “manufactured”. It is a product of nature. Tapioca is made from the roots of a large shrub which grows in warm countries.
The shrub is called “manioc“. The roots of this plant consist of about one-third starch and two-thirds water. And it takes quite a bit of time to prepare manioc roots.
The first step is to wash them and peel them. Then they are put into water and left to soak for a few days. Or they may be grated or pounded into a paste without soaking. The paste can be cooked and eaten. or it can be dried and made into flour.
To make tapioca, the grated root is mixed well with clean water and left to stand. The pure starch grains slowly settle to the bottom, and any dirt can be poured off with the water.
The starch is then taken out and mixed with clean water again. and this may be done four or five times. When the starch is perfectly clean it is spread on a metal plate over a low fire and cooked. As the starch grains cook they stick together to form little balls.
After the pure starch is cooked it is called tapioca. Most of the tapioca used in Europe and the United States comes from Java, Brazil, and Madagascar.
In Europe and the United States tapioca is used to make puddings or to thicken soups and sauces. But in South America and Africa, manioc is eaten in the form of a paste or as a dry flour.