Fixing Tapioca Dough (Melting, Crumbly, Oobleck, Dry, Wet & Sticky)

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This will cover what the problem might be for crumbling, melting, and oobleck tapioca dough made from scratch, how to fix it. It will also cover problems with dough that is too dry or sticky.

Tapioca dough that is melting and crumbling whenever you are trying to form tapioca pearls for cooking is annoying. Basically, when the dough for tapioca pearls is finished cooking, the dough is firm enough to grab it, but if it isn’t being mixed, it begins melting as if it isn’t a solid.

This is pretty much what oobleck does, which actually is only made of two ingredients: starch and water. These two ingredients are also used to make tapioca pearls from scratch. Unfortunately, some individuals looking at guides and tutorials on how to make tapioca pearls from scratch, are being taught how to make oobleck. As funny as that may be, it is no laughing matter when you are ready for some boba.

When it is time to knead the dough and it is like this, it will also try to crumble whenever attempts to roll the dough into tapioca pearls is made. Some individuals have claimed that tapioca dough like this can still make great boba when it is cooked, but it can be a time waster trying to knead this dough for longer than necessary in an attempt to form pearls.

Follow these steps exactly to avoid oobleck tapioca pearls that melt or crumble:

  1. When initially starting the process of making and cooking the dough, add the water with the sugar as usual.
  2. Mix them together on the stove at a low-medium heat.
  3. Lift the pan off of the stove and add a small portion of tapioca starch as usual.
  4. Cook the mixture while mixing it until the mixture thickens, becomes slimey, and then turns into a blob.
    • Basically, cook the mixture until you get a thick slimey blob.
  5. Now turn off the heat, leave it on the heat, and add the rest of your tapioca starch as usual, mixing the starch into the blob until it can’t take anymore starch.

Doing these steps and specifically cooking the small amount of tapioca starch into the water and sugar mixture first until it thickens, will prevent the dough from crumbling or melting (turning into oobleck) later on as you finish making the dough.

How do you fix boba dough?

If you are past the steps of cooking the dough and it is already melting or crumbling, try adding in more water or starch to fix the problem.

Loose/Wet Tapioca Dough

If the dough is loose, then it will need to cook more. Take a portion of the loose dough and cook it again, mixing it with the sugar and water until it becomes thicker.

After the dough has thickened, the rest of the dough can be kneaded into the thickened dough to fix the loose tapioca dough. This will fix the dough that has already been made into oobleck if you wish to salvage it. It will take some time to do it, but it can be done.

Dry Tapioca Dough

If the boba is too dry, more water needs to be added to it while it is cooking. It will make it hard to fix it if it is done after it cools down. It needs heat to make it easier. As the dough is kneaded, it will begin to take shape, becoming smooth and possibly a little sticky.

Why is my tapioca dough sticky?

Sticky tapioca dough is not normal. It is a result of not kneading enough tapioca starch into the dough. The extra moisture in the dough doesnt have enough starch to join with it. To fix this, place some of the tapioca starch on the surface where the dough will be used to form the tapioca pearls. This will keep the dough from sticking to the surface.

Once this is done, then take the starch and began mixing more of it into the tapioca dough. Over time, this will make the dough less sticky. It will no longer stick to your hands, and it will be easier to work with.

After the tapioca balls are formed from the dough, they can be placed into more tapioca starch to prevent them from sticking to each other.

Why is my boba squishy?

Squishy boba after it is cooked can be a consequence of bad dough that hasn’t been made properly. If the dough is sticky, and the formed uncooked tapioca pearls are squishy, then this is the case.

Uncooked tapioca pearls formed from dough shouldn’t be wet or really squishy. They should be mostly dry, and only to the point of crumbling if intentionally crushed in the hands. This is how the authentic tapioca pearls are when they are bought from suppliers and come in bags. They are fragile and dry, but not falling apart.

Why is my boba falling apart?

Boba that is falling apart after it has been made into boba balls from the dough is too dry. More water should have been used when kneading the dough, or the dough has been sitting out too long while the tapioca balls are being formed. If you are making a small amount of tapioca balls, then try to make them as quick as possible. Don’t take too long.

After the tapioca balls are formed from the dough, they need to be stored away, cooked immediately, or covered with starch for a bit to keep them from becoming to dry and falling apart. This is considering that the dough was made correctly in the first place. If it wasn’t, the dough just simply needed more water when kneading it.

Why is my boba dissolving?

Boba will dissolve and lose its shape while it is cooking, and after it is finished cooking if the tapioca dough was already wet and loose before it was cooked. Attempting to force cook improperly kneaded dough that looks and feels like oobleck, will still result in flat dissolving cooked boba in the end.

Take the oobleck tapioca dough back to the stove and knead it again from the start with water and sugar, or dispose of it and start fresh.

Another reason is that the uncooked tapioca pearls aren’t being placed into hot boiling water when they first start cooking. They need to be placed in boiling water, not cold water that is heating up. Uncooked tapioca balls may dissolve in the cold water before they start cooking.

Boba dissolving and falling apart
Perfectly made boba dissolving in cold water.

The ending result of tapioca dough made from scratch can possibly effect the outcome of the fully cooked tapioca pearls. It can make them good or bad in quality in the end. Practice makes perfect. Try to aim for a tapioca dough that isn’t too dry, or too wet and sticky by adding a little more water to dry dough, and a little more starch to flimsy dough.

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