Tapioca is a starchy substance extracted from the root of the cassava plant. It’s available in several forms including granules, flakes, pellets (called pearl tapioca ) and flour or starch. The most widely available forms are tapioca flour (also called cassava flour) and pearl tapioca. It provides a crispy crust and chewy texture in gluten free baked goods.
The flour is used as a thickening agent for soups, fruit fillings, glazes, etc., much like cornstarch. Pearl tapioca is used mainly to make pudding and comes in several sizes, regular or instant forms and in a variety of prepackaged flavors. If stored in a cool, dark place, all types of tapioca will keep indefinitely.
Tapioca flour is an extremely smooth flour, which makes for a great thickener in sauces, pies and soups since it never discolors and contains no discernible taste or smell.