What Is Cassava Flour? Here’s Everything You Need to Know
If you’re not familiar with cassava, you may know it by its other name—yuca (not to be confused with yucca, the popular tropical houseplant). It’s a root vegetable native to South America and a staple food crop in many developing countries, especially throughout Asia and Africa. Related to the sweet potato, the cassava plant produces oblong tubers underground that have a bark-like brown skin and white flesh. Cassava can be eaten the same ways that you’d eat potatoes or sweet potatoes—boiled, mashed, fried, roasted. Or, it can be dried and turned into cassava flour.
What is cassava flour?
Cassava flour comes from ground cassava root. It’s fine and powdery and tends to create dust clouds if you don’t handle it carefully. The taste is slightly nutty and earthy, though it can be easily used as a swap for all-purpose flour in gluten-free baking.
It’s an awesome substitute for regular flour.
Aside from being allergen-friendly (hurray!), cassava flour is a great choice for grain-free baking because it has a soft, powdery texture and relatively neutral taste, making it easy to substitute for all-purpose flour in classic recipes (it’s why we love it for our Grain-Free Tortillas and Burritos and crusts for our Breakfast and Pizza Pockets!).
Cassava flour is grain-free, gluten-free and dairy-free, making it a perfect substitute for grain flours in paleo baking.
Cassava flour is not poisonous.
You may have heard reports that cassava is linked to cyanide poisoning. It’s true that cassava does contain natural substances that can release cyanide when you ingest them (so do lima beans and almonds!), but you have nothing to worry about with commercially prepared cassava flour (like we use at Mikey’s) because the cyanide-producing compounds are eliminated during production.
Cassava flour and tapioca flour are not the same.
Fun fact: Tapioca also comes from the cassava root. Sometimes people mistake tapioca flour and cassava flour for the same product, but they are actually distinct. To make cassava flour, the root is peeled, dried and ground. Tapioca, on the other hand, is only the starch, which is extracted by washing, pulping and pressing cassava root. The liquid pressed from the pulp is evaporated, leaving behind the dried starch.