Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer Fun 2014 - Tapioca Tasting - Starch Play for Teens


I happened to spot a bag of large pearl tapioca at the grocery store on the same day I had been reading a post about using tapioca, giant boba beads to be precise, to create edible water beads.  The pearls I bought were smaller, and really we're getting a little old for messy sensory activities, but I thought we might be able to come up with something interesting to do with them.


As it turned out, the only thing we could come up with was to make tapioca pudding - using an Alton Brown recipe - so still throwing in a pinch of science along with the salt.  That was okay though, because the children have been on me to teach them more cooking and baking skills and...


...apparently I was mistaken about our being too old to enjoy gooey gluck.  My teens, who I had called to watch the Alton Brown video, and help make the pudding, were fascinated with the pearls.  They wanted to touch them, taste them, watch them expand, and test whether they would expand in their mouths.  I ended up pouring a bunch into a bowl of water for them to play with after reserving a half cup's worth...


...to soak overnight, drain...


...and mix with milk...


...cream...


...and a pinch of salt, in the slow cooker, for our pudding...


...allowing it to simmer away for two hours before trying to teach said teens, and their younger siblings, how to separate...



...and temper an egg...

 

...and zest a lemon.


In the meanwhile, we mixed up a batch of pudding using Minute Tapioca on the stove top, and learned the meaning of a rolling boil - where the liquid continues to bubble even while it's being stirred.  Don't mind the goggles - apparently it is necessary to break them in, on the first day of swimming lessons, by wearing them all day.


Once our puddings were cooked, cooled, and chilled, I loaded up another quick video, this time a How It's Made featuring Kozy Shack tapioca pudding...

                 

...and set up a blind taste test for the children, who had never tasted tapioca pudding before, with our two puddings, and a pre-made, Kozy Shack sampling to go along with the video.


The children tasted each pudding, and rated them according to appearance, texture, and taste.


Once everyone had picked a favorite, they read their cards out loud, and announced their personal favorite.  The younger children stuck with descriptions such as "blicky" or "good", but the older children put quite a bit of thought, and creativity into their reviews.


The Minute Tapioca was the unanimous loser.  We found it to have almost no flavor, and a consistency akin to a mashed up glue stick.

We were divided on a favorite between the Alton Brown recipe, which tasted a lot like a lumpy lemon curd, and the factory made pudding, which was like eating vanilla pudding with a few round, gelatinous, balls thrown in.   Tapioca pudding is not for the faint of heart, or texture sensitive individual.

Finally, we finished our dessert off with one last video, a factory tour of Indian factory processing cassava roots into tapioca flour.  On checking, our American eyes were relieved to find our tapioca pearls came from Brazil.

We decided not to look for any Brazilian tapioca processing plant tours.  Sometimes it's just as well not to know "how it's made".

It's great to be a homeschooler.

4 comments:

Phyllis said...

We had a lot of fun laughing at your descriptions of the tapioca puddings! Taste tests are always fun for teens and tweens.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Yes, food is processed a little differently outside the US :)

I really like tapioca pudding, but it's hard to get it right. I had no idea so much work went into making it!

Ticia said...

I"m in the not a fan of tapioca pudding camp, but I'm sure my kids would love playing with the mess and goo of the balls. I love all of the exploration your kids get out of things.

Natalie PlanetSmartyPants said...

And here I am wondering if my 7 year old is too old for messy sensory activities. I guess one is never too old for them! Great science activity!