Difference Between Tapioca Flour and Starch

Tapioca Flour vs Tapioca Starch

In today’s world, flour has become a bare essential when it comes to the culinary arts. The uses for flours and starches being numerous in nature, it is useful to know the difference between each one of them in order to use them appropriately. However, tapioca flour and tapioca starch both refer to the same powder-like substance obtained from the root of the manioc flour.  . 

What is Tapioca Starch?

Tapioca starch or tapioca flour is extracted from the manioc plant alternatively referred to as Cassava which is a plant native to Northern Brazil, but spread right throughout South American continent. It has been spread in regions such as Africa, West Indies and Asia, including Taiwan and the Philippines. Scientifically known as Manihot esculent, the flour or the manioc plant is obtained from the root of the plant which in itself is a staple food in many regions. The tapioca flour is used widely as a thickening agent and is a popular gluten-free option of flour used in baking.

Tapioca is known to be one of the purest forms of starch food and different communities use tapioca in varied dishes. Baked as cakes, crackers, cookies and a variety of other dishes, tapioca flour gives a unique texture to food endowing them a special chewy or crispy character. Tapioca starch is also used as a thickener for soups and other liquid food because of its neutral flavour.

Tapioca flour consists mainly of carbohydrates with low contents of protein, fat and sodium. Containing small amounts of oleic acid and no omega-6 fatty acids or omega-3, tapioca flour also has no significant amounts of any essential vitamins or dietary minerals thereby serving the purpose of a sole carbohydrate provider.

What is Flour?

Flour is an umbrella term used to refer to the versatile fine powder gained by grinding seeds, cereal grains, beans or roots and is a staple food in many countries. Amongst the many varieties of flour, wheat flour is perhaps the most popular being widely used all over the world to make breads, pastries, cookies and other delicacies while other types of flour such as maize, rye and rice flour are also some popular choices available worldwide.  

Constituted of a high amount of starches which are a subset of complex carbohydrates, also known as polysaccharides, flour, which is derived from the elimination of the unwanted and coarse matter of the grain, can be divided into several categories.

Unbleached flour – This has not undergone a bleaching process and is therefore not white in colour

Bleached flour – Also known as refined flour or white flour which has had the germ and bran removed

Plain flour – Also known as all purpose flour

Self raising flour – Premixed with chemical leavening agents

Enriched flour -Certain nutrients that have been lost during the refining process are added to the flour.

The nutritional value of flour depends upon the type of flour, the manner in which they have been sourced and the ingredients from which they have been sourced.

However, when speaking of tapioca flour, it is the fine powder obtained from the root of the manioc plant that is used in various dishes. Tapioca flour is often used as an alternative to wheat flour.

What is the difference between Tapioca Starch and Flour?

• Flour is an umbrella term used to refer to any fine powder gained from grinding any type of grains, cereals and roots. Tapioca starch is a type of flour gained from grinding the roots of the manioc or the cassava plant.

• Tapioca is gluten-free. Flour can be either glutinous or gluten-free.

• Tapioca is devoid of fibre and is consisted mostly of carbohydrates. Flour can contain fibre and can constitute of various nutrients.

• However, tapioca flour and tapioca starch both refer to the same powder-like substance obtained from the root of the manioc flour.

In conclusion, it would suffice to say that tapioca starch and tapioca flour are really one and the same thing. However, flour is an umbrella term that is used to refer to all kinds of flour produced in the world. Both tapioca starch and tapioca flour can be used as substitutes for regular wheat flour in gluten-free recipes.