“In nearly 50 years dedicated to Brazilian cuisine, one of the questions I have heard the most is:‘ What is tapioca flour? What is the difference between tapioca flour (named sweet tapioca flour in Brazil) and sour tapioca flour? Is it named sweet because it takes sugar? Is it sour because it spoiled?’
To start this conversation, it is worth remembering that the tapioca flour came from manioc! It is one of its many by-products. To obtain it, it is necessary to grate the raw root, peeled; then wrap everything in a cloth or voile and squeeze. The liquid will decant quickly, forming a white mass at the bottom of the container. When it dries – in the sun, in the case of those who follow the artisanal method – it will give rise to the sweet version, also called gum, that is the one used to make tapioca (Check the recipe!).
When this decantation is longer – up to 20 days – fermentation takes place and results in sour tapioca flour. Learn more about production here.
Tapioca flour has great importance in our kitchen. It is used in iconic preparations such as pão de queijo (cheese bread) and manioc starch biscuits! Without it, we also wouldn’t have the chipa, a symbol of the Midwest – which in many places earned the nickname ‘Paraguayan pão de queijo’. See how to prepare these 3 delights!
But its uses go beyond these classic recipes. Versatile, it can be a wildcard ingredient for recipes that need a natural thickener, such as soups, broths and stews that need to be thickened. Not to mention that it makes good porridge and several ‘quitanda’ recipes, the name given to cookies, crackers and sequilhos – learn how to prepare bijajica, brevidade and cornbread.
It is also an option to replace flour and cornstarch. It is gluten free and carries all the properties of manioc, which was elected the “Food of the 21st Century” by the UN: it is rich in potassium, vitamin C, folate, saponins and resveratrol. ”