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Soaked tapioca mush

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I've never cooked with tapioca before, but I was given a bag of the large pearls and asked to make a pudding. I looked up instructions online, and saw that it had to be soaked for over 8 hours. I duly soaked a cup of tapioca pearls in water... and when I checked back, they had absorbed the water and seemed mostly mushy.

Is this usual? Or was it perhaps an old batch? The instructions on the back of the bag also indicated an 8-hour soak would be needed.

I started again, with 1/4 cup soaked in milk for about 30 min as per the recipe of 101 Cookbooks (found after another Google search). I followed through on the recipe, and it made a nice custard with some tapioca pearls interspersed in the mixture. Not sure if more was needed if using large pearls; the recipe ingredients listed small pearls. I suspect it needed more tapioca in the mix.

I still have the initial batch soaked. What can I do with it, if anything? Or should I just chalk it up to a learning experience and toss it?

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  1. I have the same problem... I bought large pearl tapioca for a recipe that asked for an overnight soak. As soon as I poured water on them, they started disintegrating. I cooked them anyway, and they completely disappeared. What am I doing wrong?? Are there different kinds of large pearl tapioca?

    2 Replies
    1. re: mym

      Wish I knew. I also struggle with consistency of pearls (after a 30 min soak) - some cook up perfectly, others stay hard and just seem like they're never going to join the party, at which point I give up.

      1. re: haiku.

        30 minutes for large pearl isn't even close to enough time, ime. even if the water is hot. small pearl, 30 mins is correct.

    2. I am having a similar problem with large pearl, the ones that didn't disntegrate were delicious, but the ratio of disintegration was ridiculous compared to small pearl and I really want to have the same success with large pearl tapioca as I do with small pearl. It was a bear to track down large pearl and I think it could be a quality control matter. The maker of the small pearl was a national brand with a great reputation, the large pearl was sourced from an asian grocery and other than saying tapioca pearls I have no idea what it says.

      They are supposed to soften, just as small ones do, but the disintegration is definitely a problem, that's not the texture you want in tapioca. You want that gentle resistance in each pearl. Like I said, the relatively few large ones that soaked properly were great. But the rest of the large pearl tapioca was like soup, even with a gelatin packet thrown in to cheat a little.

      1. If your pearls disintegrate when soaked, try starting them in boiling water - lots of it. Apparently there are different formulations of these large pearls. The one's that I've gotten so far from 99Ranch. One batch simply disintegrated with put into cold water, so that's why I tried the boiling water approach.

        I've been cooking them till nearly cooked through in boiling water, then drain them, and finish in a flavored liquid (such as pandan flavored coconut milk).

        http://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/...
        This Australian site suggests 2 approaches - one is the boil in lots of water, the other is to soak, but start with boiling water.

        http://www.ehow.com/how_2205369_cook-...
        another boil recipe. Note they mention boba pearls. These may be different from the large pearls that we in the West used to get and make into tapioca pudding, hence the different cooking method.