Many of you will remember that a while back I did a post on what tapioca flour is (take a look HERE if you haven’t read this post yet) and tried to go into some detail about the different types of manioc flours that you can find in Brazil. I thought it was time to revisit these flours and to give a bit of a briefer explanation of the different types of flours and starches that you can find in Brazil.
I have found that many people get confused about the different manioc flours (myself included) and since gluten-free products are pretty popular at the moment, I thought it would be fitting to do another post on this topic. I hope that this is helpful and clears up any doubts people have!
What is Manioc, Cassava or Yuca?
Depending on where you are from you may call this root manioc, yuca or cassava. Here in Brazil it is known either as mandioca or aipim, for simplicity’s sake I will use manioc here. Manioc is a starchy root that is native to South America, it is rich in carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin C. The manioc root is not meant to be eaten raw and in order to be consumed, must be properly cooked or processed.
To cook the manioc root, peel the brown outer skin and place in a pan of water, boil until the white flesh becomes soft. Once slightly cooled remove the woody inner center (this woody center looks like a thick piece of string).
The manioc root is the basis for the many different types of ‘mandioca flours‘ you can find in Brazil and is an important part of the Brazilian diet.
1. Farinha de Mandioca/Manioc Flour
Manioc flour, known as farinha de mandioca in Brazil, is a very coarse flour and is primarily used to make farofa, pirão, and tutu among many other dishes. There are many different types of manioc flour, all with varying degrees of coarseness. Since this flour is toasted you also find different toasts in the flour, the more toasted the more nutty the flavor. This flour is almost only used in savory dishes and, as far as I know, not at all in baking. You can buy it HERE on amazon.com.
2. Polvilho Azedo/Sour Starch
This flour is fermented and has a slightly sour taste. It is a little bit coarser than the tapioca flour (polivilho azedo). It is commonly used to make pão de queijo and when hydrated with water it is used to make tapioca pancakes. It is a great flour for savory recipes! You can buy it HERE on amazon.com.
3. Polvilho Doce/Tapioca Flour
This is the regular tapioca flour that you can find relatively easily in the USA. This manioc starch is not fermented, is a little finer than the sour starch (polivilho azedo) and has a slightly sweeter flavor. It is commonly used in sweet recipes, but can be used in savory recipes and substituted for the sour starch (polivilho azedo). You can buy it HERE on amazon.com.
4. Goma de Tapioca/Hydrated Tapioca Flour
This is a hydrated tapioca flour used in making tapioca pancake from the north of Brazil. The hydrated starch is made by adding water to tapioca flour (or polivilho azedo or polvilho doce) and passing it through a sieve to remove the lumps. Take a look HERE to read more about the tapioca pancakes.
5. Tapioca Pearls
This is what everyone in the USA will know as tapioca and is used to make the traditional tapioca pudding, it is used in bubble tea and in Brazil it is used to make a pudding called sagú that is made with the tapioca pearls and red wine. Tapioca pearls can be found in different sizes from about 1mm to 8mm. You can purchase tapioca pearls at any supermarket. Here is a link to buy the SMALL PEARLS. And here is a link to buy the BIG PEARLS.
6. Coarse or Granulated Tapioca
This is a very coarse tapioca and is very irregular in size. It is used in both savory and sweet dishes and is usually soaked in milk before being cooked. I have used this a lot to make a simple cake; because the tapioca is somewhat gooey the texture of the cake is more like a hardened tapioca pudding (doesn’t sound too appetizing, but trust me, it is delicious)! You can buy it HERE on amazon.com.
Thanks to From Brazil to You for some great information about manioc http://www.frombraziltoyou.org/cassava-its-importance-derivatives-and-dishes/