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Tapioca maltodextrin is a type of food starch derived from tapioca that is used as a food additive to add bulk to and stabilize certain substances. It is a versatile, food-grade dextrose that comes in the form of a very fine powder and is used to replace fats in cheese products, puddings, ice cream, and desserts. With the additive, the volume of these materials increases without adding extra calories or sugar. Its most exciting use is in the area of molecular gastronomy, where it is used by chefs to transform high-fat ingredients into light powders that can be sprinkled on food to give it an exotic taste. Found in sauces, sports drinks, and baby food in various industries, it is also utilized as a base for milk shakes, health drinks, and soups.
The substance is obtained from tapioca starch through a natural enzymatic process and is a highly prized food additive for several reasons. Maltodextrins in general can be obtained from any type of starch, such as barley, wheat, and potato. Tapioca maltodextrin is widely preferred because it has no color, smell, flavor, or taste and can therefore be added to any food without causing taste alterations. It is also has excellent stabilizing properties, giving the food a smooth texture. All these factors make it an excellent substitute in the food industry for gums, fat, milk, and assorted stabilizers.
The dextrose dissolves completely in any liquid medium and is an easily digestible food that is readily absorbed by the body. When added to water, it forms a gel and displays a high water-binding capacity. It also freezes and thaws well, so it can be used to increase the bulk of materials like frozen foods and dry mixes. The blandness of tapioca maltodextrin makes it an excellent dispersant for different types of dry ingredients. It can increase volume without adding more sweetness, making it very useful in the diabetic industry.
One of the most novel applications of tapioca maltodextrin is in the area of molecular gastronomy, where it is used by chefs to turn substances like olive oil, bacon, and peanut butter into powder form. Chefs use it to add flavor and texture, and it gives a surprising new dimension to their culinary creations. The powdery substance, when used in a dish, reconstitutes instantly on the person's tongue, releasing a potent flavor. Some exotic powders made this way include olive oil, caramel, and coconut oil powders. Bacon, nutella, and caramel are some additional powders that can be made.
The process of converting a high-fat substance into a powder form with tapioca maltodextrin is simple. The fat, if solid, is first liquefied and chilled. It is then mixed with the maltodextrin at a ratio of 60 percent of the fatty substance to 40 percent maltodextrin. This is then pureed in a blender and passed through a tamis to obtain a fluffy powder. Tapioca maltodextrin is widely used by molecular gastronomists and chefs to create innovative recipes that delight their customers.
Part of the molecular gastronomy current: transform any fat substance (olive oil, nutella and peanut butter!) into a fine powder!