One of America’s Favorites – Tapioca

June 24, 2013 at 8:21 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Tapioca (Portuguese pronunciation: [tɐpiˈɔkɐ]) is a starch extracted from Manioc (Manihot esculenta). This species is native to the

Cassava root

Cassava root

Northeast of Brazil but spread throughout the South American continent. The plant was spread by Portuguese and Spanish explorers to most of the West Indies, Africa and Asia, including the Philippines and Taiwan, being now cultivated worldwide.
In Brazil, the plant (cassava) is named “mandioca”, while its starch is called “tapioca”. The name tapioca is derived from the word tipi’óka, the name for this starch in the Tupí language, which was spoken by the natives when the Portuguese first arrived in the Northeast of Brazil. This Tupí word refers to the process by which the starch is made edible. However, as the word moved out of Brazil it came to refer to similar preparations made with other esculents.
In the Philippines, tapioca is usually confused with sago, as the sap of the sago palm is often part of its preparation. In India, the term “tapioca” is used to represent the root of the plant (cassava), rather than the starch. In Vietnam, it is called bột năng. In Indonesia, it is called singkong. In Malaysia it is called “Ubi Kayu”. In Britain, the word tapioca often refers to a milk pudding thickened with arrowroot.
Tapioca is a staple food in some regions and is used worldwide as a thickening agent in various foods. It is considered a gluten-free food.

 

 
The cassava plant has either red or green branches with blue spindles on them. The root of the green-branched variant requires treatment to remove linamarin, a cyanogenic glycoside occurring naturally in the plant, which otherwise may be converted into cyanide. Konzo (also called mantakassa) is a paralytic disease associated with several weeks of almost exclusive consumption of insufficiently processed bitter cassava. The toxin found in the root of the red-branched variant is less harmful to humans than the green-branched variety. Therefore, the root of the red/purple-branched variant can be consumed directly.
In the North and Northeast of Brazil, traditional community based production of tapioca is a by-product of manioc flour production from cassava roots. In this process, the manioc (after treatment to remove toxicity) is ground to a pulp with a small hand- or diesel-powered mill. This masa is then squeezed to dry it out. The wet masa is placed in a long woven tube called a tipiti. The top of the tube is secured while a large branch or lever is inserted into a loop at the bottom and used to stretch the entire implement vertically, squeezing a starch-rich liquid out through the weave and ends. This liquid is collected and the water allowed to evaporate, leaving behind a fine-grained tapioca powder similar in appearance to corn starch.
Commercially, the starch is processed into several forms: hot soluble powder or meal or pre-cooked fine or coarse flakes, rectangular sticks, and spherical “pearls”. Pearls are the most widely available shape; sizes range from about 1 mm to 8 mm in diameter, with 2–3 mm being the most common.
Flakes, sticks, and pearls must be soaked well before cooking, in order to rehydrate, absorbing water up to twice their volume. After rehydration, tapioca products become leathery and swollen. Processed tapioca is usually white, but sticks and pearls may be colored. Since old times, the most common colour applyed to tapioca has been brown, but recently pastel colors have been available. Tapioca pearls are generally opaque when raw, but become translucent when cooked in boiling water.
Brazil in South America, Thailand in Asia, and Nigeria in Africa are the world’s largest producers of cassava. Currently, Thailand accounts for about 60% of worldwide exports.

 

 
While frequently associated with tapioca pudding, a dessert in the United States, tapioca is also used in other courses. Bubble tea is

Tapioca pudding

Tapioca pudding

gaining popularity in cities with large Asian populations. People on gluten-free diets can eat bread made with tapioca flour (although these individuals do have to be careful, as some tapioca flour has wheat added to it). Tapioca is also used as an ingredient in the Canadian Daiya brand cheese substitute.

 

 
A casabe is a thin flatbread made from bitter cassava root without leavening. It was originally produced by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas Arawak and Carib nations because these roots were a very common plant of the rain forests where they lived. In eastern Venezuela many Indigenous groups still make casabe and it remains their main bread-like food. Indigenous communities including the Ye-Kuana, Kari-Ña, Yanomami, Guarao or Warao are from either the Caribe or Arawac Nations and still make casabe.To make casabe, the starchy root of bitter cassava is ground to a pulp, then squeezed to expel a milky, bitter liquid called yare which carries the poisonous substances with it out of the pulp. Traditionally, this squeezing is done in a sebucan, an 8 to 12-foot (3.7 m) long tube-shaped pressure strainer woven in a characteristic helical pattern from palm leaves. The sebucan usually is hung from a tree branch or ceiling pole, and it has a closed bottom with a loop that is attached to a fixed stick or lever, which is used to stretch the sebucan. When the lever is pushed down, stretching the sebucan, the helical weaving pattern causes the strainer to squeeze the pulp inside. This is similar to the action of a Chinese finger trap. The pulp is then spread in thin, round cakes about 2 feet (0.61 m) in diameter on a budare to roast or toast.

Thin and crisp cakes of casabe are often broken apart and eaten like crackers. Like bread, casabe can be eaten alone or with other dishes. Thicker casabe usually are eaten slightly moistened. Just a subtle sprinkle of a few drops of liquid is enough to transform a very dry casabe into a very soft and smooth bread very similar to the softest slice of a wheat bread loaf, an incredible change in texture. Because of its capacity to absorb liquid immediately, casabe may cause someone to choke, but goes down quickly with a sip of liquid.
In Guyana, the casabe is simply called cassava bread. It is prepared with an instrument called a matape by the natives of the Rupununi Savanah and other areas of the country that have a high concentration of Amerinidians. In Jamaica, it is called bammy.
In Brazil, the cassava flatbread is called beiju or tapioca.

 

 
Tapioca pearls are also known as boba in some cultures. It is produced by passing the moist starch through a sieve under pressure. Pearl tapioca is a common ingredient in Asian desserts such as kolak, in tapioca pudding, and in sweet drinks such as bubble tea, fruit slush and taho, where they provide a chewy contrast to the sweetness and texture of the drink. Small pearls are preferred for use in puddings; large pearls are preferred for use in drinks. These large pearls most often are brown, not white (and traditionally are used in black or green tea drinks), but are available in a wide variety of pastel colors. Not only are they used in the aforementioned drinks, they are also available as an option in shave ice and hot drinks. In addition to their use in puddings and beverages, a recent innovation has seen tapioca pearls baked inside of cakes.

 

 
Tapioca root can also be used to manufacture biodegradable plastic bags. A polymer resin produced from the plant is a viable plastic substitute that is not only biodegradable, but can be composted, is renewable, and is recyclable. The product reverts in less than one year, versus thousands of years for traditional plastics.

 

 
Tapioca predominantly consists of carbohydrates, with each cup containing 135 grams for a total of 544 calories, and is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Folic acid (vitamin B9) is present in the amount of 6.1 mcg, along with iron 2.4 mg and calcium 30.4 mg. One cup of tapioca also includes 1.5 mg of omega-3 acids, 3 mg of omega-6 fatty acids and 1 gram of dietary fiber.

 

 

 
*Warning on Bubble Tea Tapioca Pearls May Contain Cancer-Causing Chemicals, German Study Claims

*Tapioca pearls in bubble tea contain carcinogens like polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs
After analyzing the tapioca balls which make up the ‘bubbles’ in the drink, researchers from the University Hospital Aachen, for instance, found that the pearls contained polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs such as styrene, acetophenone, and brominated substances, chemicals that shouldn’t be in food at all, researchers told German paper The Local.

 

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/tapioca-pearls-bubble-tea-carcinogens-polychlorinated-biphenyls-pcbs-article-1.1148110#ixzz2X62nFo6N

 

 

 
Classic Tapioca Pudding
INGREDIENTS:
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten or 1/2 cup Egg Beater’s
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS:
1. Stir together the milk, tapioca, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 5 minutes longer.
2. Whisk 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Stir the egg mixture back into the tapioca until well mixed. Bring the pudding to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer until the pudding becomes thick enough to evenly coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. The pudding may be served hot or poured into serving dishes and refrigerated several hours until cold.

Nut of the Week – Pili Nuts

March 12, 2012 at 8:58 AM | Posted in diabetes, nuts | Leave a comment
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Pili Nuts

Canarium ovatum, commonly known as pili (play /piːliː/ pee-LEE), is a species of tropical tree belonging to the genus Canarium. It is one of approximately 600 species in the family Burseraceae. Pili are native to maritime Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, and Northern Australia.

Unshelled pili nuts

Unshelled pili nuts

They are commercially cultivated in the Philippines for their edible nuts.

The pili tree is an attractive symmetrically shaped evergreen, averaging 20 m (66 ft) tall with resinous wood and resistance to strong winds. It is dioecious, with flowers borne on cymose inflorescence at the leaf axils of young shoots. As in papaya and rambutan, functional hermaphrodites exist in pili. Pollination is by insects. Flowering of pili is frequent and fruits ripen through a prolonged period of time. The ovary contains three locules, each with two ovules, most of the time only one ovule develops (Chandler 1958).

The pili fruit is a drupe, 4 to 7 cm (1.6 to 2.8 in) long, 2.3 to 3.8 cm (0.91 to 1.5 in) in diameter, and weighs 15.7 to 45.7 g (0.035 to 0.101 lb). The skin (exocarp) is smooth, thin, shiny, and turns purplish black when the fruit ripens; the pulp (mesocarp) is fibrous, fleshy, and greenish yellow in color, and the hard shell (endocarp) within protects a normally dicotyledonous embryo. The basal end of the shell (endocarp) is pointed and the apical end is more or less blunt; between the seed and the hard shell (endocarp) is a thin, brownish, fibrous seed coat developed from the inner layer of the endocarp. This thin coat usually adheres tightly to the shell and/or the seed. Much of the kernel weight is made up of the cotyledons, which are about 4.1 to 16.6% of the whole fruit; it is composed of approximately 8% carbohydrate, 11.5 to 13.9% protein, and 70% fat. Kernels from some trees may be bitter, fibrous or have a turpentine odor.

Pili is native to Malesia, a biogeographical region which includes maritime Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines), Papua New Guinea, and Northern Australia.

Pili is a tropical tree preferring deep, fertile, well drained soil, warm temperatures, and well distributed rainfall. It can not tolerate the slightest frost or low temperature. Refrigeration of seeds at 4 to 13 °C (39 to 55 °F) resulted in loss of viability after 5 days. Seed germination is highly recalcitrant, reduced from 98 to 19% after 12 weeks of storage at room temperature; seeds stored for more than 137 days did not germinate. Asexual propagations using marcotting, budding, and grafting were too inconsistent to be used in commercial production. Young shoots of pili were believed to have functional internal phloems, which rendered bark ringing ineffective as a way of building up carbohydrate levels in the wood. Success in marcottage may be cultivar dependent. Production standards for a mature pili tree is between 100 to 150 kg (220 to 330 lb) of in-shell nut with the harvest season from May to October and peaking between June and August. There are high variations in kernel qualities and production between seedling trees.

Most pili kernels tend to stick to the shell when fresh, but come off easily after being dried to 3 to 5% moisture (30 °C (86 °F) for 27 to 28 h). Shelled nuts, with a moisture content of 2.5 to 4.6%, can be stored in the shade for one year without deterioration of quality (Coronel et al. 1983).

Although they are grown as ornamental trees in many areas of the Old World tropics of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, only the Philippines produces and processes pili nuts commercially. Production centers are located in the Bicol region, provinces of Sorsogon, Albay, and Camarines Sur, southern Tagalog, and eastern Visaya. There is no commercial planting of this crop, fruits are collected from natural stands in the mountains near these provinces. In 1977, the Philippines exported approximately 3.8 t of pili preparation to Guam and Australia.

The most important product from pili is the kernel. When raw, it resembles the flavor of roasted pumpkin seed, and when roasted, its mild, nutty flavor and tender-crispy texture is superior to that of the almond. In Indonesia, epecially in Minahasa and Moluccas islands, the kernels are used for making cake, bobengka in Minahasan or bubengka in Maluku. Pili kernel is also used in chocolate, ice cream, and baked goods. The largest buyers of pili nuts are in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the kernel is one of the major ingredients in one type of the famous Chinese festive desserts known as the “moon cake”.

Nutritionally, the kernel is high in calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, and rich in fats and protein. It yields a light yellowish oil, mainly of glycerides of oleic (44.4 to 59.6%) and palmitic acids (32.6 to 38.2%).

The young shoots and the fruit pulp are edible. The shoots are used in salads, and the pulp is eaten after it is boiled and seasoned. Boiled pili pulp resembles the sweet potato in texture, it is oily (about 12%) and is considered to have food value similar to the avocado. Pulp oil can be extracted and used for cooking or as a substitute for cotton seed oil in the manufacture of soap and edible products. The stony shells are excellent as fuel or as porous, inert growth medium for orchids and anthurium.

Fruit of the Week – Jackfruit

December 20, 2011 at 12:04 PM | Posted in baking, diabetes, Food, fruits | 1 Comment
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The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a species of tree in the Artocarpus genus of the mulberry family (Moraceae). It is native

Jackfruit tree with fruit

to parts of Southern and Southeast Asia. Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh, and is known as “kathal.” The jackfruit tree is believed to be indigenous to the southwestern rain forests of India. It is widely cultivated in tropical regions of the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia. Jackfruit is also found in East Africa, e.g., in Uganda and Mauritius, as well as throughout Brazil and Caribbean nations like Jamaica. It is well suited to tropical lowlands, and its fruit is the largest tree-born fruit, reaching as much as 80 pounds (36 kg) in weight and up to 36 inches (90 cm) long and 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter.

The common English name jackfruit is a name used by the physician and naturalist Garcia de Orta in his 1563 book Colóquios dos simples e drogas da India. A botanist, Ralph Randles Stewart suggests that it was named after William Jack (1795–1822), a Scottish botanist who worked for the East India Company in Bengal, Sumatra and Malaysia. This is apocryphal as the fruit was called a “Jack” in English before William Jack was born: for instance, in Dampier’s 1699 book, A new voyage round the world.

The jackfruit has played a significant role in Indian agriculture for centuries. Archeological findings in India have revealed that jackfruit was cultivated in India 3000 to 6000 years ago[citation needed]. Varahamihira, the Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer, mentioned jackfruit trees in his Brhat Samhita.. His treatise includes a specific reference on grafting to be performed on trees such as jackfruit. Maturing in 35–40 years, their wood can be used for furniture. The gum from this tree is used to repair small holes in pots. In Kerala (India), Jackfruit trees support the Black Pepper vine, which is a climber. Thus, the trunks of jackfruit trees of Kerala are usually covered with the dark green leaves of the pepper vine cultivated by the farmers.

The jackfruit is considered an invasive species in Brazil, especially in the Tijuca Forest National Park in Rio de Janeiro. The Tijuca forest is mostly an artificial secondary forest, whose planting began during the mid-nineteenth century, and jackfruit trees have been a part of the park’s flora since its founding. Recently, the species expanded excessively, due to the fact that its fruits, once they had naturally fallen to the ground and opened, were eagerly eaten by small mammals such as the common marmoset and the coati. The seeds are dispersed by these animals, which allows the jackfruit to compete for space with native tree-species. Additionally, as the marmoset and coati also prey opportunistically on bird’s eggs and nestlings, the supply of jackfruit as a ready source of food has allowed them to expand their populations, to the detriment of the local bird population. Between 2002 and 2007, 55,662 jackfruit saplings were destroyed in the Tijuca Forest area in a deliberate culling effort by the park’s management.

Outside of its countries of origin, fresh jackfruit can be found at Asian food markets, especially in the Philippines. It is also extensively cultivated in the Brazilian coastal region, where it is sold in local markets. It is available canned in sugar syrup, or frozen. Dried jackfruit chips are produced by various manufacturers. In northern Australia, particularly in Darwin, Australia, jackfruit can be found at outdoor produce markets during the dry season. Outside of countries where it is grown, jackfruit can be obtained year-round both canned or dried. It has a ripening season in Asia of late Spring to late Summer.

The flesh of the jackfruit is starchy, fibrous and is a source of dietary fiber. The flavor is similar to a tart banana. Varieties of jackfruit

Jackfruit opened

are distinguished according to the characteristics of the fruits’ flesh. In Brazil, three varieties are recognized. These are: jaca-dura, or “hard” variety, which has firm flesh and the largest fruits that can weigh between 15 and 40 kilograms each; jaca-mole, or “soft” variety, which bears smaller fruits, with softer and sweeter flesh; and jaca-manteiga, or “butter” variety, which bears sweet fruits, whose flesh has a consistency intermediate between the “hard” and “soft” varieties.

In Kerala, two varieties of jackfruit predominate: varikka and kuzha. Varikka has slightly hard inner flesh when ripe, while the inner flesh of the ripe kuzha fruit is very soft and almost dissolving. A sweet preparation called Chakka Varattiyathu is made by seasoning the Varikka fruit flesh pieces in jaggery, which can be preserved and used for many months. Huge jackfruits up to 4 feet in length with matching girth are sometimes seen in Kerala. In Mangalore, Karnataka the varieties are called bakke and imba. The pulp of the imba jackruit is ground and is made into a paste. It is then spread over a mat and is allowed to dry in the sun to create a natural chewy candy.

Jackfruit is commonly used in South and Southeast Asian cuisines. It can be eaten unripe (young) when cooked, or ripe uncooked. The seeds may be boiled or baked like beans. The leaves are used as a wrapping for steamed idlis.

The young fruit is called Polos in Sri Lanka. It is a dish with spices to replace meat curries in Sri Lankan and eastern-Indian (Bengali) cuisine. The skin of unripe (young) jack fruit must be pared first and discarded and then the whole fruit can be chopped into edible portions and cooked to be eaten. The raw young fruit is not edible. Young jackfruit has a mild flavour and distinctive poultry-like texture. The cuisines of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam use cooked young jackfruit. In Indonesia, young jackfruit is cooked with coconut milk as gudeg. In many cultures, jackfruit is boiled and used in curries as a staple food. In the Philippines it is cooked with coconut milk (Ginataang langka)

Ripe jackfruit is naturally sweet with subtle flavouring. It can be used to make a variety of dishes including custards, cakes, halo-halo and more. Ripe jackfruit arils are sometimes seeded, fried or freeze-dried and sold as jackfruit chips.

Illustration of the size of jackfruit.

Seeds from ripe fruits are edible and are prepared by boiling in salted water for about 25 minutes. They have a milky, sweet taste. In many parts of India, roasted salted seed is also eaten and considered a delicacy.

The wood of the tree is used for the production of musical instruments. In Indonesia it forms part of the gamelan and in the Philippines, its soft wood is made into the hull of a kutiyapi, a type of Philippine boat lute. It is also used to make the body of the Indian string instrument Veena and the drums Mridangam and Kanjira, the Golden yellow coloured timber with good grains is used for building furniture and house construction in India. The ornated wooden plank called Avani Palaka made of the wood of Jackfruit tree is used as the priest’s seat during Hindu ceremonies in Kerala.

Jackfruit wood is widely used in the manufacture of furniture, doors and windows, and in roof construction. The heartwood of the jackfruit tree is used by Buddhist forest monastics in Southeast Asia as a dye, giving the robes of the monks in those traditions their distinctive light brown color.

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