Tapioca

My daughter is in High School and is taking a class that when I was in school would have been called Home Ec. She has an assignment to cook a fruit pie. My wife and I both enjoyed a Blueberry/Peach pie and suggested that to her. She found a recipe and there are a couple of things I’m not sure about. One of the things is it calls for 3 Tablespoons of Tapioca. My wife picked up a tub of Tapioca (all natural pudding). I’m not so sure this is what the recipe calls for, but then again I know nothing about Tapioca. I know it is a thickening agent, and I usually use a Roux but something tells me this won’t work as a substitute in a pie (can you tell I don’t bake much)

Secondly, peaches don’t seem to be in season. Are Nectarines an ok substitute? I know they are sweeter so should we cut down on the sugar? Are we better off to use canned or frozen?

I know we aren’t supposed to ask homework questions, but hopefully this doesn’t fall into that category.

Honestly, why not just stick to apple? Make it easy on the child, by letting her learn basic piemaking with the most basic of fruits, and let her get “artistic” later on.

It’s about her and the abilities she has to learn to pass the course, not about what you and your wife like to eat…right?

What you have is tapioca pudding, or prepared tapioca. What you want is the stuff the pudding is made from – “Tapioca” comes in dried “pearls” (large or small). The equivalent is a recipe calling for “gelatin” and you have a tub of lime Jello.

I have no idea how to use it as a thickening agent, and frankly, I would look for another recipe because learning to use tapioca is a somewhat pointless skill – there are many viable substitutes that are much more common and easier to use. (corn starch, flour, potato starch, arrowroot, all spring to mind). Aiming too high and random substitutions are what makes most beginner cooks fail. Find a recipe she actually understands and can execute without ANY substitutions.

Frozen peaches would work fine – convenient too as they already have the skins off – don’t use canned as they are basically already cooked and the result will be glop. I’ve never made pie from nectarines – I have no idea what would happen, and as above, do not recommend substitutions.

If you must persist, what you want is tapioca starch.

Apple was my first suggestion… but my daughter for some reason didn’t like that. She also had the Peach/Blueberry pie so she was excited at that thought (she is a bit of an over achiever). I also don’t like tapioca so if I can talk her into something else I’ll be glad to give it a go, but if you have ever had a 15 year old girl who has her mind made up it isn’t tha easy.

I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear. She can still make a blueberry-peach pie, just find a more typical recipe. There’s nothing “more difficult” about using any particular combination of fruits – it’s just that the recipe she has glommed onto had a needlessly obscure ingredient. I’m not sure you’ll even be able to find powdered tapioca starch.

try this one:

Oh yeah, and if you use frozen peaches defrost them first by laying them out on a piece of wax paper. The slices will put off some water from the freezing process, which you should discard.

Perfect… thanks! Looks like this one uses egg and cornstarch for thickening which sounds much better to me. I’ll point her here.

Actually the egg is just a glaze to make the crust look pretty. It has no function inside the pie.

Something else that makes the pie look pretty is an applique. Before using the egg wash, take a spare bit of crust leftover, and, using some shape as a guide, like a small leaf, use a sharp knife to cut the shape out and add details such as the veins in the leaf. Apply each cut-out with a dab of the egg wash as glue and gently press against the crust so all of the shape is in contact, but not hard enough to squish it. then brush the wash over everything.

Bake as normal – the appliqued shapes sitting on top of the crust will brown slightly more than the crust, making them stand out.

I disagree :smiley:

Yeah… I suppose if I actually read the recipe rather than just skimming the ingredients I would have known that. :smack:

What’s all the hate for tapioca to thicken pies? I use it all the time - to me, it’s the easiest and most consistent thickener. Plus it’s not overly starchy/goopy.

I use Minute Tapioca and grind it in the food processor to a powder before using. Never had an issue with it.

My mother always used tapioca in fruit pies, and I do also. We use(d) Minute tapioca, but we’ve never bothered to grind it as Athena does. I generally use the chart on the back of the box to determine how much to use. I actually will use scant measures (not quite full), and before I add it to the fruit, I will sprinkle a small amount over the bottom crust.

I also use Minute Tapioca in fruit pies. It’s also often used to thicken gravy in crockpot stews. Minute tapioca doesn’t need to be ground. It’s a great thickener. Blueberry peach pie sounds delicious. Pie really is easy to make, and the simple recipes are usually just as good as the complicated ones. Nowadays my daughter and I use prepackaged, pre-rolled pie crust, and pies take about 10 minutes to throw together.

Try the Minute Tapioca. There are good recipes right on the box.

Any thickener in a fruit pie other than tapioca is an abomination!!! Well, that’s what I was taught. Tapioca avoids the gloppy effect of cornstarch. Grinding is unnecessary in my view, unless you happen to be dealing with “fish-eye” tapioca, which has happened to me, but isn’t a common problem, or unless you’re grossed out by even the slightest hint of tapioca texture. I third or fourth using Minute tapioca. That’s what the recipe is likely calling for. No trick to it at all–much easier than cornstarch, which is prone to lumping.

I’d hate to find fish eye tapioca in a pie, those things cook up to the size of peas! Now I want tapioca pudding (which is just thickened egg custard…mmm).

Yea, my Mom used to buy the minute tapioca for pies, and then I would make homemade tapioca pudding with the recipe straight off the box as a teenager, 30 minutes tops. Really easy to make tapioca pudding… just milk, sugar, egg, tapioca, and vanilla

Tapioca is an obscure ingredient in pie fillings? Since when? :confused:

I use it all the time, and I would have assumed it to be the universal thickener of first resort where pies are concerned. I would certainly never use corn starch, of all things! It’s not like it’s hard to use, either. Just mix it in with the fruit and sugar and let it stand for ten or fifteen minutes before filling and baking. No need to grind it either, as long as it’s the small granules.

You can also cool the tapioca pudding a bit more quickly by preparing it in a copper bottomed pan and cooling it in ice water… then putting it -the copper bottomed pot- in the freezer. Although a portion of hot tapioca pudding with fresh chilled fruit makes for warm tapioca-fruit pudding. Many have eaten cold tapioca, the warm is also nice.

I have to jump on this bandwagon. Tapioca is not an obscure thickener for fruit pies–it’s the standard thickener. minute tapioca is right in the baking aisle. The box is small and cheap.

good luck to your daughter! My best advice is for her pie dough. Use a food processor to mix the fat and the flour and make sure the fat is very cold. She’ll end up with fabulous pie dough.

Quick update. Pie was wonderful. Used minute Tapioca with no problems. Used Nectarines instead of peaches and I couldn’t tell the difference. Absolutely perfect in all ways.