Tapioca Starch: The Aztec Thickener

tapioca starch

Tapioca consists of starch extracted from the cassava root. Cassava was one of the main food sources of Native Americans throughout South America. It is thought that it originated south of the Amazon River in what is now Brazil. It was being cultivated by the people in this region as far back as 8000 BC. By 6000 BC, it was being grown in what is now Mexico and in Peru by 2000 BC. Its cultivation would spread throughout the Caribbean well before the arrival of the Europeans.

Christopher Columbus would encounter cassava bread after arriving in the Caribbean, but it was not until the early 18th century that Europeans found out about the starch extracted from cassava. The Portuguese would learn about tapioca from the Tupi-Guarani in Brazil.

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Cacao Powder: An Antioxidant Powerhouse

cacao powder

Cacao powder comes from the Theobroma cacao tree, which is an evergreen tree that grows in Central and South America. Raw cacao powder is the same thing as raw cocoa powder and consists of the ground beans from the cacao tree that have been subjected to minimal processing. These beans are the main raw ingredient chocolate.

There is evidence that cacao was consumed in various American cultures before the arrival of Columbus. The name cocoa is thought to be a misspelling of cacao, which is the Spanish version of the Aztec word cacahuatl. Cacao beans were valued so much among the Aztecs that they were used as currency. Cacao trees could not be grown in the dry areas that made up the heart of Aztec civilization, so they would trade with the Mayans for the beans.

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Arrowroot Vs. Corn Starch: SPICEography Showdown

arrowroot vs corn starch

Arrowroot is made a from a tuber that was first used by the Caribbean Arawak people. It is an effective thickener as well as a useful alternative to wheat flour in biscuits, cakes and various baked goods. Corn starch is made from the corn kernel’s endosperm and was originally considered inedible, but later became popular as a culinary thickener. How do these two starches compare to each other? What are their benefits and drawbacks? Below, we compare corn starch and arrowroot in another SPICEography Showdown.

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Maple Sugar Vs. Brown Sugar: SPICEography Showdown

maple sugar vs brown sugar

Native Americans were the first to discover the means of making maple sugar. They boiled the sap of maple trees sap down to create a solid product that could last for long periods and that was easier to transport than sap or syrup. They passed that knowledge on to early European settlers and that knowledge is still used in the production of granulated maple sugar today. Maple sugar is a versatile sweetener that was once touted as a possible substitute for cane sugar. How similar is maple sugar to brown sugar? What are their differences? These and other questions will be answered below, in another SPICEography Showdown.

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Potato Starch Vs. Corn Starch: SPICEography Showdown

potato starch vs corn starch

Potato starch and corn starch are both effective for thickening and for use in baked goods. You will be able to use either one in most recipes and wind up with very similar results. That said, there are some differences between the two as each of them is better for some applications than for others.

If you are choosing between the two, there are a few important questions to consider. Let’s review in another SPICEography Showdown: potato starch vs. corn starch. 

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What’s A Good Lemon Pepper Substitute?

lemon pepper substitute

Lemon pepper is a popular and versatile seasoning blend. The best-known applications involve using it on poultry and fish; however, it can be used on beef and vegetables as well. This blend is useful enough to keep in your spice cabinet at all times. What should you do if you run out or can’t find any in the local grocery store? There are several effective lemon pepper substitutes that you may have on hand.

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