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Tapioca Maltodextrin – What it Is & How to Use It

Olive Oil Powder

Molecular Gastronomy is a term that has gotten alot of attention over the years. A more fitting term is modern cuisine, but whatever you call it you have definitely heard of emulsification, spherification, foam and powders! For those of you that think it is about using “unnatural additives” you have another thing coming to you. All of the additives used in modern cuisine are plant derived, and furthermore you are already consuming them in your everyday food products, you just don’t realize it. I’ll explain more below.

For now, lets talk about powders. One of the easiest things to make is powders using Tapioca Maltodextrin, but before delving deep lets talk about what is Tapioca Maltodextrin, where it comes from and how it works!

Maltodextrin is quite simply a food starch. Most starches like flour take in and can thicken water and sauces. Maltodextrin does the opposite. It absorbs and thickens fats. It actually hates water and will turn into goo on contact. On a more molecular level, Maltodextrin is a dextrose (plant sugar) polysaccharide. Polysaccharides are long carbohydrates made of monosaccharides (repeating units). They are able to encapsulate the oil and hold it within the powder until it comes in contact with water and then it releases the fat/oil. The polysaccharides form a 3D network that entrap the oil droplets and don’t let them move, hence stabilizing the emulsification.

Molecular Banana Nutella

Maltodextrin can be derived from different plant starch sources, the most common being from corn in the US, wheat in Europe and the other from tapioca. Tapioca is processed from dried cassava roots (native plant of South America) and is used for cooking in different cuisines. That tapioca maltodextrin is the one you need for creating powders. The corn maltodextrin is more commonly found in soda, beer, and even salad dressing. It is used in beer to improve the smooth mouth feel and it is used in salad dressing to prevent separation of the oil and water.

The Tapioca Maltodextrin has no taste to a slightly sweet taste. It is sold as a white powder, or in flakes or spheres. Usually you need to parts Maltodextrin to one part oil to create a good powder. Also never store it uncovered, always in a sealed container. Some ideas for some powders you can easily create are: nutella, peanut butter, olive oil, caramel, truffle oil and whatever else you can think of. Made some lately? Share your link below so I can check it out.

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This article has 20 comments so far!

  1. Olive Oil Powder Molecular Gastronomy Tapioca Maltodextrin | MiraUncut - cooking, restaurant reviews, molecular gastronomy, and sweet stuff in Michigan says —

    [...] to a dish? This olive oil powder is perfect for that. Its super easy to make. You just need some tapioca maltodextrin and some olive oil. I explain the properties of the maltodextrin in my peanut butter powder post [...]

  2. Molecular Gastronomy Banana Jelly & Nutella Powder | MiraUncut - cooking, restaurant reviews, molecular gastronomy, and sweet stuff in Michigan says —

    [...] last Molecular Gastronomy post I made nutella powder using tapioca maltodextrin as part one of this dessert. I wanted to create a sort of deconstructed banana nutella [...]

  3. Molecular Gastronomy - Nutella Powder - Maltodextrin | MiraUncut - cooking, restaurant reviews, molecular gastronomy, and sweet stuff in Michigan says —

    [...] talk briefly about it in the beginning of this post and in full depth in my What is Maltodextrin & How to Use It post. Basically, you have to use it with something fat based that has no water in it. Examples: Peanut [...]

  4. Peanut Butter powder & Jelly agar noodles molecular | MiraUncut - cooking, restaurant reviews, molecular gastronomy, and sweet stuff in Michigan says —

    [...] molecular gastronomy shinanigans I want to take a moment to explain some of the properties of Tapioca Maltodextrin and Agar Agar, the 2 main components I worked with for this [...]

  5. Creme brulee – molecular gastronomy style | MiraUncut - cooking, restaurant reviews, molecular gastronomy, and sweet stuff in Michigan says —

    [...] the many possibilities it has opened. I have ordered some chemicals and havebeen toying around with tapioca maltodexrin, what that does is it turns fat based stuff to powder.So, it looks completely different, but when [...]

  6. Weekly Roundup of Science and Cooking: 13-19 February 2012 | Science Fare says —

    [...] Maltodextrin: one of our favorite “modernist ingredients”. Mira Uncut offers a look at what it is and how to use it. Have you seen our own ingredients [...]

  7. Tobias says —

    Great blog Mira!
    Seems like we've got both med school and MG in common!

    I live in a small country in the middle of nowhere and ingredients are hard to find in my part of the world. Today I stumbled upon a small chinese grocery shop and they are selling both Agar Agar and something called "Tapioca Meal" and "Tapioca Pearls". I bought the Agar, but the Tapioca only came in 2 kg packages so I hesitated. Do you think it's the same thing as Tapioca Maltodextrin?

    Any advice would be appreciated!

  8. MiraUncut says —

    Hiya! :) Yup, science geeks unite!

    I believe some website will ship around the world. Not sure what country you are in, but it is a possibility.

    Did they have the Agar in sheets or powder?

    I haven\’t worked with the Tapioca pearls. You need it in powder form to create powders. I wonder if the pearls can be ground. I believe it is the same thing just in a different format. I would find smaller packets and test it out, unless you don\’t mind making 2KG worth of tapioca pudding ;)

  9. Tobias says —

    I live in Sweden and MG is not so much of a thing here. And yes, I can order everything I want from the interwebz but it takes time, and I have to pay extra taxes to get the shipments through the swedish customs.

    The agar is in flakes! Works great! That was indeed a bargain.

    I’m going to give the tapioca pearls a try. I’ll buy some tomorrow. Too curious… :) They weren’t literally 2 kg packages but still quite big.

    Hmm… I wonder what tapioca pudding tastes like. Well, I guess I’ll find out tomorrow, one way or the other. Thank you for your advice!

  10. Sly says —

    How about Bacon Pixie Sticks! http://www.instructables.com/id/Bacon-Pixie-Stix-...

  11. MiraUncut says —

    I\’m sure bacon lovers would drool over those. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Erwin Green says —

    is tapioca maltodextrin the same as tapioca powder?

  13. MiraUncut says —

    Are you talking about the flour or the starch? I believe they can both also be used interchangeably, as the maltodextrin, but the malto form is a derivative of the starch powder I think.

  14. Erwin Green says —

    Either one, but I get the jist of using the products…Thank you so much for your help.

  15. Eddie Fan says —

    Hello there,

    I would like to know where I can buy the Tapioca Maltodextrin prodcuts in Hong Kong.

  16. MiraUncut says —

    To be honest, I wouldn\’t know. Unless you ordered them online from American and had them shipped there. You can try modernistpantry.com.

  17. Molecular Gastronomy: EDIBLE SCIENCE | Sophomore Snippets says —

    [...] The translucent white jello cubes are tomato jelly. What Chef White did was extract all the juice/water from tomatoes and poured the liquid onto a baking pan. Then he added gelatin and put the pan in a freezer, letting the tomato water to sit and form a gel over the weekend. Red onions, green peppers and cucumber were diced finely to be used for “building” the delicate gazpacho-inspired hors d’oeuvre. Xanthan gum is a fermented bacteria-excreted product; similar to cornstarch, xantham gum doesn’t have to be cooked – simply whisk it in with any liquid to thicken it. It may be used as a thickener for pies. Extra points for being vegan, not sensitive to pH and gluten free! Here, xanthan gum was added to lime juice and red wine vinegar for a more viscous dressing. Finally, perhaps the coolest part of this dish is the olive oil powder. Tapioca maltodextrin is simply a food starch (polysaccharide from tapioca). The white powder has a powdered snow texture and can be blended with pure fat such as peanut butter and olive oil to create flavored powders. So awesome and very accessible too! You can read about the stuff in more detail here. [...]

  18. Splenda Found to Reduce Friendly Gut Bacteria Significantly : Natural Society says —

    [...] times as filler, but also to create texture.”Maltodextrin is most often derived from GMO corn. Tapioca maltodextrin is safer, but harder to find and less seldom used by the food industry.Dextrose is not [...]

  19. afolabi says —

    Can it be used for frying and how

  20. MiraUncut says —

    I\’m not quite sure. What would be the purpose of using it for frying?

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