Tapioca is the starch extracted from the cassava root. The cassava plant is native to Brazil, where it is known as “mandioca” and its starch is referred to as “tapioca”. Cultivation of the cassava plant has spread throughout South America and Africa, while culinary use of tapioca has become popular throughout the world.
HOW TO GROW
- Cut a stem from a tapioca plant to a length of 8 to 14 inches and remove bottom leaves from the cutting.
- Plant the cutting in a container full of potting soil. Make sure that at least one leaf node is under the soil and that the stem is planted 6 inches deep. Place the cuttings in indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist.
- Transfer the tapioca cutting into the garden or into their own small pots when they have rooted, waiting until spring if planting them directly in the garden. Tapioca seedlings that will be grown in containers can be transplanted any time after rooting. When planting outside, plant the young tapioca seedlings where they will receive full sun or part shade. Tapioca will grow in almost any soil conditions; however, till soil before planting and add loam to heavy soils if you plan to harvest the tapioca roots. Working the soil will make it easier to dig the roots at harvest time.
- Feed the young tapioca plants with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer shortly after planting. Perennial and evergreen tapioca plants should be fertilized each spring.
- Water the tapioca as needed to keep the soil moist, if desired. Tapioca is drought tolerant and rarely requires irrigation when grown as a decorative plant but produces a better crop when it is not allowed to dry out.
Regular watering and occasional feeding will fatten up your tapioca tubers in about eight to ten months.
The toxic substances in the plant tissue naturally shield cassava from pests, but large scale cultivations may be affected. If you spot aphids and whiteflies, occasional spraying with just water will suffice to dislodge them.
- Although the majority of people are concerned about staying thin and fit, there are plenty of people who look for options for healthy weight gain. Being underweight can be just as dangerous as being obese, and tapioca provides a quick and easy way to gain weight in a fast and healthy way.
- One of the most valuable mineral contributions of tapioca is iron. Iron is essential for the normal functioning of the human body, and perhaps its most significant roles is in the creation of new red blood cells.
- Tapioca is a wonderful option for vegetarians for ample amounts of protein.
- Despite the many benefits of eating tapioca in various forms, it is important to remember that cassava can be very poisonous if not prepared, processed, or cooked properly. Cassava produces cyanide, which is an extremely poisonous compound to humans. Therefore, while tapioca that you buy in a store is perfectly healthy to eat, dont attempt to process or eat tapioca grown or found in the wild, unless you are instructed by someone who is very familiar with a healthy way of processing it.
- Also, since tapioca does have a very high carbohydrate and caloric content, if you are trying to lose weight, it might not be the best food to add to your diet.