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Why do we soak tapioca?

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I just bought my first non-instant (ie pearl) tapioca, and I noticed the recipe calls for soaking the tapioca overnight before actually cooking it. Does anyone know WHY the long soak is necessary? I'm not sure of the science here. Following that, if I left out the soak, would my pudding still taste good? Thanks for any info you guys have!

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  1. it's not about taste really, it's a texture issue. soaking softens the tapioca, otherwise it'll be too hard/dense/chewy, and won't release enough starch to thicken the pudding properly for a creamy consistency. but it's not *really* necessary to soak them overnight if you're short on time - a couple of hours should be sufficient.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Thanks for the info! Good to know that a slightly shorter soak will also work. At least I could have tapioca that night if I thought about it early enough in the afternoon!