Tapioca Pearls or as they are commonly known as boba are normally added to different drinks such as bubble tea, milk tea, iced coffee, and smoothies.
They are made of tapioca starch which comes from the cassava root. The Tapioca adds a fun chewy gummy texture to any drink and also flavors it as well. But it’s important that you properly store your pearls if not they would quickly lose their flavor and chewy texture.
So in this article, we will guide you on how to properly store and keep your tapioca pearls, fresh for as long as possible. Whether they are store-bought, homemade, and both the cooked and uncooked versions.
How to Store Cooked Tapioca Pearls (Boba)
Cooked Tapioca Pearls can be left at room temperature for 4 hours, or placed in a simple syrup, and then refrigerated for 72 hours. They can also be frozen to significantly extend their lifespan.
How to Freeze Cooked Tapioca Pearls
You can cook a large amount of tapioca pearl and use what you need and then freeze the rest.
This technique will allow you to keep your cooked Boba Tapioca Pearls longer while maintaining their chewiness and consistency.
How to Freeze Cooked Tapioca Pearls
- Proceed to cook your tapioca as normal,
- And then place them inside a zipper bag.
- Next, remove all the excess air from the bag.
- Now lay the bag flat in the freezer and leave it to freeze.
- And when you need it, take the frozen Tapioca pearls out of the bag and add it to a pot of boiling water.
- You need to allow the water to boil for a couple of minutes. This will essentially defrost the frozen pearls.
- Finally, strain and rinse the drained tapioca pearls with water.
- Now you can add it to your syrup or drink.
To remove all the air from your zipper bag I highly recommend using a vacuum sealer. A vacuum sealer would allow your food to last for a much longer time and because of this, I consider it an investment.
Video of Freezing & Cooking Tapioca Pearls
How to Refrigerate Cooked Tapioca Pearls
A trick to keep cooked boba fresh, that most bubble tea shops use is to keep them immersed in a simple sugar syrup so that they will stay fresh in the fridge for several days.
Keep them in your syrup and cover tightly with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container. They will only keep for about 36 hours in the refrigerator.
They will gradually start to harden and become crunchy in the middle, after this time frame.
How to make a simple syrup
Heat equal parts sugar and water in a separate saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
Once the Boba is finished cooking, pour the syrup over the boba and let soak for a few minutes before refrigerating.
If you don’t want to cook your tapioca pearls you can also buy ready-made ones, you can click here to see my recommended brands of tapioca pearls.
Storing Tapioca Pearls at Room Temperature
Tapioca Pearls have the best quality when eaten within a few hours after cooking.
The recommended time for Tapioca Pearls to be left at room temperature is 4 hours.
Keeping Tapioca Pearls at room temperature any longer than this and the quality of the pearls will diminish.
You should try to cook small amounts of the Pearls that you are guaranteed to use up in the 4 hour period or you will have to resort to refrigerating or freezing them.
Storing Un-Cooked or Raw Tapioca Pearls (Boba)
Raw Tapioca pearls are generally opaque when raw, but become translucent when cooked.
How to Store Packaged Tapioca
Most uncooked tapioca pearls or Boba come in sealed packages that should be stored in a cool and dry area in your home like a pantry or cupboard below 77 °F (25°C).
But after opening the package of raw Tapioca Pearls, and if you are not planning on using all of the contents to keep them fresh you need to:
Place the remainder in a sealed food-safe plastic bag and remove all the excess air. And then store it in the same condition.
For best quality try to use the leftover uncooked pearls within 2 days.
Note: You don’t need to put the tapioca in your refrigerator as long as the pearls were not in the refrigerator section when you bought them, or unless you were advised by the manufacturer.
Unopened Store-Bought or packaged Boba are effectively dehydrated and will last for months, and maybe years, in your cupboard. And If you put them in the refrigerator they will inevitably draw moisture from the condensation in the refrigerator.
They also carry an expiration date on it and you should use the Tapioca or Boba Pearls by the expiration date on the package.
Additional Tips to Keep Packaged Tapioca
It is important to carefully handle the package of store-bought Tapioca when opening it because they are extremely fragile and melt in cold water.
When cooking it is important to stir them gently so as to avoid them from sticking together. Most brands require either boiling the balls in water or soaking them overnight in order to cook them.
Drying & Freezing Uncooked Homemade Tapioca
If you are not going to cook freshly prepared homemade Tapioca, you can store them by freezing them.
How to Freeze Homemade Tapioca Pearls
- First mix the dough for your tapioca balls to the right consistency.
- Then roll your tapioca balls in a uniformed shape, this will help with consistent cooking.
- Next, the shaped Tapioca Pearls may be placed on a cookie sheet without touching one another.
- Cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap and freeze.
- Finally, freeze the pearls until they are hard and won’t stick together, then place the pearls into a sealed container and freeze.
How to Dry Homemade Tapioca Pearls
To last longer Tapioca can also be shaped and dried, so as to preserve them further than just freezing.
- Firstly, mix the dough for your tapioca balls to the right consistency.
- Next roll your tapioca balls in a uniformed shape, this will help with consistent drying.
- The the shaped Tapioca Pearls may be placed on a cookie sheet without touching one another, so as to avoid them from sticking together, and left to dry.
- This Drying Process may take 3 hours and require the Tapioca Pearls to be gently rolled a few times. This is to ensure that all the sides of the Tapioca Pearls are evenly dried.
- The time will depend on the size of the pearls.
- After the first hour of drying, gently shake the cookie sheet so the pearls roll and change position.
- Now repeat after the second and third hours.
- By then you will feel the texture of the pearls change. They will become harder and stiffer.
- Once they are completely dried, they may be frozen in food-safe containers.
Another Alternative after drying is to place the Tapioca Pearls in vacuum bags and sealing it with a food saver machine before placing the vacuum bags in the freezer. This method will last for a period of 6 months to a year.
How to Make Tapioca Pearls from Scratch
Tapioca Pearls in Bubble Tea
Tapioca Pearls are most popularly known for being the tiny, translucent, chewy black balls at the bottom of Bubble tea.
Bubble tea does not actually get its name from the pearls but rather from the bubbles that form on top the tea after it is rigorously shaken.
The actual Bubble drink is made from a tea base mixed with milk and flavorings, the Boba is added to tea as a little round chewy surprise.
They also come in a variety of colors. Boba pearls have a natural brown color which they get after boiling in water. This color comes from the brown sugar used to make boba. However, they are often colored using artificial colors in order to get more variety.
It is both vegan and gluten-free.
Origin of Tapioca Pearls or Boba
The Bubble tea with Tapioca Pearls is said to have originated in small tea shops in Taiwan in the ’80s and has been quickly growing in popularity all over the world.
In Chinese, the word Boba is a combination of the word for bubble and the word for big. When used to describe the drink, the characters directly translate to boba milk tea, and loosely to bubble milk tea.
Bubble tea is typically prepared in two ways—as a creamy drink mixed with common tea flavors such as Thai, black, Earl Grey, etc., or as a fruit juice that’s mixed with green or black tea.