Fixing Hard Boba Pearls

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This will cover how to fix any hard boba issues after cooking. It will cover the common issues that people face when cooking different types of boba too. Boba is really good when it is soft and chewy, but there is nothing worse than hard boba. If you are biting into hard boba that is homemade, or made in a shop, then we will see what the problem is, and we can do to fix it.

There are many reasons why your boba could be hard, but there are common reasons to why it ends up that way. Boba is a food that is cooked, and if it is treated that way, then it will be easier to fix any hard boba issues. It thrives in heat and moisture, and is most effectively cooked in water.

Should boba pearls be hard?

No. Your boba pearls should never be hard, especially after cooking them. This can be a sign that they have been undercooked. They are only hard before they are cooked, and after fully cooked ones have become cold or lost moisture. Boba should be soft on the outside, with a very easily chewable texture on the inside.

Boba is a really delicate food. One doesn’t just simply cook boba. There are other foods that can be cooked any kind of way (even without cooking experience), and can yield great results; however boba isn’t one of them. Luckily, there are a lot of easy common fixes for almost every type of boba that needs to be cooked and prepared. Boba can be cooked in almost any type of equipment (boba can even be cooked in an air fryer), but it has to be done the right way.

No matter what type of drink or dessert that the boba is in, it just doesn’t work well for most individuals when it is hard in texture. This is one of the main problems that individuals want fixed after cooking and trying boba for the first time. Some people actually only eat boba because of its soft and bouncy texture.

Even if the boba is cooked and prepared without much taste, some people don’t care as much as they would if the boba was hard instead. Biting into hard boba is just really so obvious and blatant to your mouth that it can’t go unnoticed.

Why are my boba pearls hard?

Reason #1

The main reason that boba pearls are hard, is because they haven’t been cooked properly. This is the most common problem that everyone runs into when they start cooking boba at home (or in a boba shop) for the first time. No matter what type of boba it is that is cooking (regular, small, white, instant, or sago tapioca pearls), they must cook long enough in order to yield great results in the end.

If the boba isn’t cooked long enough, then it will end up soft on the outside and hard in the middle. It will have a chewable hard crumbly texture to it, because the insides haven’t finished cooking.

The easiest way to fix this is by first making sure that the water is boiling first to a rolling boil before the uncooked boba is placed in the water, then cooking them to the correct times. The water must be hot for the boba pearls to actually cook. Most boba can be cooked with simple instructions, but here are some general tips:

The tips will work generally for cooking most boba types, regardless of how long they take to cook. It will be especially helpful if you do not have instructions on your bag on how long the boba should be cooked for.

  • Feel the boba before it is cooked to see what kind you have.
    • It is usually stated on the bag that the boba pearls came in on which type you have. There are instant tapioca pearls, and regular tapioca pearls for example.
    • Regular tapioca pearls can be told apart from the instant kind by taking one of the pearls in your hand and mashing it in between your fingers. If it is the regular kind, then it will easily crumble into tapioca flour in your hand. This type takes longer to cook (around 30 minutes of boiling and 30 minutes of simmering).
    • Instant tapioca pearls will not do this so easily when they are mashed. They will be much firmer, because they have been pre-cooked first to cook faster later. The instant kind usually take around 5 to 10 minutes of boiling, and 5 to 10 minutes of simmering to fully cook.
  • Look at your boba and check the ingredients.
    • If the boba is white before it is cooked, it is important to make sure that you aren’t cooking sago pearls instead of white tapioca pearls. They are not the same thing. Check the ingredients of the bag to be sure that you are cooking what you think you are cooking.
  • Always begin with a rolling boil before inserting the boba into the pot to cook.
    • Always ensure that the water is hot and boiling before the boba is placed in the pot of water. The cooking times might be correct for whatever boba you are cooking, but incorrect because you aren’t boiling the water first before placing the boba in.
    • Placing boba in water that is not hot enough first, can result in undercooked boba that is hard in the end. To fix this it needs to be cooked longer, and the water needs to be hotter.

Reason #2

You may not be cooking the boba pearls that you think that you are cooking. This may be the reason why you are getting hard undercooked boba in the end after it is cooked. This is the second most common reason for hard boba.

I witnessed an individual that spent all day cooking boba that was melting and turning into a blob only to find out that they were just simply using the wrong type of boba pearls for the wrong set of instructions.

For example, actual sago pearls (the real ones) take 3 to 4 times longer to cook than tapioca pearls of the same dimensions. These will always come out hard in the middle when they are mistakenly being used for cooking tapioca pearls. Some people call them tapioca pearls too, but they are not made of tapioca starch.

This is also a common issue with individuals that cook their boba correctly, and it is soft and chewy; but it quickly becomes hard afterwards. The pre-cooked boba (instant boba) has a harder chewy texture than the regular tapioca pearls.

They will not last as long as the traditional ones after they have been cooked. They wear down faster, and will easily become hard in iced cold drinks, even when they have been cooked properly. If you want better results, you will need to cook the tapioca pearls that take longer to cook, rather than going with the faster easier route. There are ways to cook boba faster if you are concerned about the time and the quality.

The traditional tapioca pearls will also work better after they are reheated, after being stored and frozen. Freezing cooked pre-cooked boba will degrade the quality and make the texture harder faster in drinks and desserts after they have been re-cooked.

This same rule applies to all foods when they are constantly reheated and frozen over and over again. They will degrade in quality and texture. Eventually you are going to have to throw it away and start fresh if you want better quality.

Even though tapioca pearls can be cooked and frozen/refrigerated for later and reheated, it will not return to its full soft and chewy texture. This is why the instant tapioca pearls always have a harder texture than the ones that take longer to cook.

If you are ordering boba from a boba shop and it is hard, they could be attempting to serve you lower quality boba by using these tactics. Boba shops should always be using the traditional tapioca pearls for their boba, not the instant ones if they value their customer’s experience. They also should never save old boba by freezing it to be used the next day. It should all be fresh.

Is boba supposed to be hard in the middle?

No. Boba is supposed to be chewy in the middle. The texture should be soft-chewy, with no hardness or toughness at all in the center. Good boba is very easy to chew, so much that it barely needs to be chewed for it to break apart. Boba that is hard in the middle hasn’t cooked long enough, or it has been cooked improperly using the wrong methods.

When cooking boba, all of the boba needs to be able to submerge in the water that it is being cooked in. The pot shouldn’t be over-filled with so much boba that it is close to passing the surface of the water. More water is always better when cooking boba.

How do you make soft boba pearls?

To make soft boba pearls out of any type of boba that has to be cooked, simply cook the boba for as long as it needs to be cooked in order for them to become soft. If the boba for some reason comes out hard after it has been cooked, it can be immediately placed back into the hot water to be cooked longer. This can, and will, still be able to produce soft and chewy boba in the end after it has fully cooked.

It is easier for most individuals to have undercooked boba, then it is to overcook them. If you are unsure if the type of boba that you are cooking is finished, then you can take a few out of the pot while it is simmering and test it to see if it is still hard in the middle.

What does undercooked boba look like?

Undercooked boba can look the same as cooked boba while it is cooking. The outer layer of the boba will still look soft. It is best to try to identify the type of boba you are cooking first before attempting to cook it. From there, you can get a good estimate of how long the boba needs to cook in order to be fully cooked.

Sago pearls and white tapioca pearls are a lot easier to tell when they are undercooked. They will turn translucent as they cook more, while the uncooked inside will be seen through the outer layer and appear white. As they become fully cooked, they will become translucent in the middle too.

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