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Jul 24, 2012 04:21 AM

Pie thickener

I have baked many pies - and have never used tapiaco as a thickener...what is the difference between cornstarch and tapiaco. Does tapiaco work better than cornstarch...does it make a difference?

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  1. This link gives a pretty good breakdown of the different thickeners:

    1 Reply
    1. re: BabsW

      Thank you - BabsW...I'll have a look.

    2. I think you are referring to Minute Tapioca? I prefer it in fruit pies to cornstarch or flour. It keeps the filling more clear than flour and to me it is more reliable than cornstarch.

      The instructions for using tapioca in pies is on the box if you want further info. For an apple pie, I combine the apples, sugar, spices and tapioca, then microwave for two minutes and pour hot apples and all the juices into the pie shell, cover with top crust with slits cut in the center, then bake.

      In order for a pie filling to thicken properly - it's all about science. The filling must come to a boiling temperature, which I call "singing," as pictured in my CH icon. When a pie sings, the crust starts heaving and the filling pops through the crust, That shows it has reached the proper temperature. Whether you use cornstarch, flour or tapioca, the filling must reach the appropriate hot point or the filling won't thicken and will be runny.

      5 Replies
      1. re: TrishUntrapped

        I grind up minute tapioca in a coffee grinder as this aids even dissolving. Tapioca is far superior to cornstarch, imho.

        1. re: magiesmom

          I haven't found the need to grind it up. Just make sure it soaks in with the fruit before it cooks. But as I often say, "Whatever works. If it encourages you to make pie, by all means do it."

          1. re: magiesmom

            I have always ground up minute tapioca as well, but I recently found tapioca flour at my grocery store (in the Hispanic foods aisle) - it's about 1/10th the price of minute tapioca and it's already ground up fine! Hopefully it will work just as well as minute tapioca - I'll report back when I try it.

            1. re: biondanonima

              Tapioca flour = Cassava flour which it is the same thing as tapioca (just in flour form) so I would think it would work fine. Whatever works. Just keep making pie. ;-)

              1. re: biondanonima

                Tapioca flour can also be purchased at most Asian grocers for much less than the cost of minute tapioca.

          2. I prefer tapioca too, maybe because that's what Mom used. However I just got a recipe here for rhubarb pie and it used strawberry jello as a thickener, I'm going to have to try that just for fun.

            3 Replies
            1. re: coll

              I have never used tapioca...but I am going to get some today and try it on my next pie. I thank you so much for answering my post.

              1. re: eaglelake

                Glad to share, hope you like it. Personally I am a big tapioca fan, anyway it's made!

                1. re: coll

                  I made the rhubarb pie with strawberry Jello as thickener, and it came out great. Might experiment with other flavors for other fruits in the future.

            2. Instant clearjel is by far my favorite. It is a modified cornstarch I believe. It thickens perfectly, it is very stable, and has no taste. I get it from King Arthur. I like it way better than minute tapioca.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Becca Porter

                Thanks for mentiong this Becca. I've yet to tread the ClearJel waters, but it does interest me. While there are many raves, there also complaints. Some day I'll buy some and try it myself and see how it goes.

                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                  The only complaint I have concerning it is that it is harder to find.

                  1. re: Becca Porter

                    My other complaint about Instant ClearJel is that it loses its ability to thicken over time. I order it from Bakers Catalog (the King Arthur Flour people) and after it failed me a couple of times, I contacted them to ask about it. They said it should be used within a year of purchase. I wish they'd put an expiration date on the package if they know that's the case, but now at least I can write my own.

                    I still use it because, when it's fresh, it works better than any other thickener I've tried!

                    1. re: MsMaryMc

                      weird, I know I had no problems using mine after it had been opened for more than a year and I live in a humid climate which tends to cause issues with some products.

                2. I also prefer tapioca for fruit pies, but do not use very much of it. Much of the fresh fruit juices can be absorbed by simply adding dried (dehydrated) fruit to the filling. No one knows that some of the wonderful whold berries or sliced apples were previously dried.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: condie

                    I'd know, if you did that with my sour cherries! ;-)
                    doubling the tapioca never hurt no one -- and it helps the crust!

                    1. re: Chowrin

                      You wouldn't recognize them.
                      Sour cherries, cranberries or gooseberries that have been dehydrated and then rehydrated with the juice from sweet fruit or honey will become sweet, while offsetting the super sweetness of the pie.
                      I wish I had a treefull of sour cherries.

                      1. re: condie

                        I found an local farm that does a variation on CSA's--if there's a specific crop you want, they let you pre-order ten pounds or more and pick it up in their CSA drop locations. I just got done washing and pitting fifteen pounds of exquisite sour Montmorency cherries Some went to preserves and some are frozen in pie-sized portions. Cherry pies all winter!! :-> :-> :->

                        1. re: condie

                          My sour cherry pies aren't that sweet. Cuppa sugar max, sometimes go with a 2/3rds cup. The sour cherries are so freshly delish.
                          (I get mine shipped freshfrozen from Michigan. in a good year, which this isn't!)