How to Cook Tapioca Pearls -- Professional Guide

Posted by THOMAS STARKS on

Learn how to cook tapioca pearls for boba tea drinks.  Make your own bubble tea.

Tapioca pearls are incredibly versatile tools that can be used in a range of recipes, or to make delicious bubble tea or orbeez. In this post, we’ll explore how to cook tapioca pearls and what you can use them for.

An Introduction to Tapioca Pearls

Tapioca pearls, also sometimes called tapioca balls or boba, are a product of tapioca – a starch that is extracted from cassava root. They tend to measure between five to ten millimeters and by adding ingredients like sweet potato powder, water, sugar, or even jelly, it’s possible to make them appear different sizes and colors.

This is what makes tapioca pearls so popular: their excellent versatility. They tend to be neutral in flavor themselves and can be easily turned into a ‘gel’. That in turn means that they can be used as thickening agents in puddings, gravies, and soups. At the same time, it means that they can be used to add a range of different flavors to other meals, or to aid the presentation of a fancy meal.

How to Cook Tapioca Pearls

There are many uses for tapioca pearls then, but to start getting any benefit from them, you’ll first need to know how to cook them. The good news is that this is a fairly standard process.

First, you will need to boil some water. Boil a kettle, fill a pan, and then bring it to a boil so that it’s bubbling. Now you’re going to add the tapioca pearls to the water making sure they are entirely submerged. Keep simmering the pearls on a lowered heat for thirty minutes, while making sure to constantly stir them every five minutes to prevent them from gelling together.

Remove from the heat for an additional 35 minutes to cool somewhere. It’s best to keep the pot covered during this process.

The next step is to strain the pearls through a sieve or cullender. Do this while being very careful not to lose any of your precious boba.

Now run the boba under a tap while keeping them in the sieve or cullender. The idea here is to remove extra starch by rinsing them.

At this point what you do with your tapioca pearls next will depend at least somewhat on what you intend on doing with them. One option is to soak the boba in sugar mix. We recommend that you add them to a fructose mix and leaving them in there for ten minutes prior to serving. Stir the tapioca hourly and make sure to serve within six hours of preparation. The sugar once again helps to prevent the lumping together.

Tips

While these instructions should do the job in most cases, it’s worth noting that a number of factors can influence cooking times – including the size of the pearls, the size of the pan, the temperature of the room, and more.

A good tip then is to try and test your tapioca pearls before serving them to ensure that they are the right consistency. To do this, remove one from the pan and try chewing it. This way you can ensure it is well cooked all the way through to the center.

Another tip is to make sure that you have the right type of tapioca pearls before going ahead. You can buy tapioca pearls either raw, or partially cooked. Partially cooked tapioca generally lasts a little longer and has a shelf-life of 8 months rather than six months. Cooked tapioca pearls as mentioned should be eaten around 4-6 hours after cooking. Note as well that the sizes of the tapioca can also vary a great deal.

Finally, remember to be careful storing tapioca. It’s a good idea to make sure that you mark clearly how long they are likely to last.

Uses

As mentioned, tapioca can be used in a number of desserts in order to help thicken out the consistency if you’re looking to make a sweet and sugary pudding. At the same time, you can also use tapioca pearls for thickening gravy, soups, and all kinds of other meals. Having some kind of thickening agent to hand when cooking is always a useful tip as it can help you to salvage an overly watery soup or stew.

What you might also not realize is that they can be used as a key ingredient in a number of great recipes. For instance, dumplings can be made using tapioca, which is a very popular use for them and makes for a really doughy and delicious snack.

It’s also possible to make delicious bubble tea. This drink is popular in Taiwan and has since spread around the globe. It is a rich tasting tea that includes milk and sugar, with chewy tapioca balls, popping boba, or other delicious sweet snacks on top. The result is a tea that isn’t just a caffeinated pick-me up like regular tea, but also something that is sweet and comforting like a hot chocolate or a milkshake.

Closing Comments

As you can see then, cooking tapioca is really very easy and is simply a matter of boiling slowly while consistently stirring. You can then mix with a sugar mix in order to sweeten and prevent from sticking. The main challenge is to prevent the tapioca from gelling. This is of course fine if you intend to use them for thickening your meals and deserts, but if you’re looking to make the popular bubble tea or you want to keep your options open, then you’ll want to avoid that to begin with.

Whatever the case, you’ll be left with a very useful ingredient in your kitchen that can be used to thicken a wide variety of different meals and that can even form the basis of dumplings and other great snacks. There are a ton of uses for boba, so keep them to hand and you’re bound to find that they come in useful!


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2 comments

  • Glad you enjoyed the recipe. That’s a great question, we’re actually working to put together a detailed resource on all that and more.

    Thomas Starks on
  • Thanks! Used this recipe at my bubble tea shop. Followed the recipe and it turned out perfectly. Do you have any tips for brewing the tea and the types of tea that work best with bubble tea?

    Tau's Tea on

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