Fixing Sticky Boba Pearls (Sticking & Clumping)

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Boba that sticks together is not idea for boba drinks and desserts. It defeats the purpose of them bring made into individual boba balls to begin with. This article will cover what can be done to fix boba pearls that are sticking together. This will work with most boba types that have to be boiled and cooked.

Tapioca pearls, sago pearls, cassava flour boba, cornstarch boba, all-purpose flour boba, and potato starch boba are all prone to sticking together before, during, and after they are cooked. All of these boba types have around the same solution for fixing them to prevent them from sticking together. If you are making the boba from scratch at home, then you most likely are dealing with this problem.

No matter what the boba is made out of (starch or flour) it will try to stick together.

Why are my boba pearls sticky?

The reason that boba pearls stick together is because of the flour or starch that the boba pearls are made of. Some flours actually work better than starches do when it comes to preventing the boba pearls from clumping and sticking together.

I’m not saying that picking a different flour or starch to make your boba pearls will entirely fix the problem, but it could possibly diminish it. However, altogether, flours and starches are used as binding agents in food. This is why the boba pearls will be prone to sticking together and clumping no matter what type of starch or flour is used.

Whenever starch or flour is wet or contains moisture, it binds to its ownself very well. Ever notice how the starch or flour doesn’t stick when it is dry straight out of the bag/container? This is basically what your boba pearls need to be like after they are formed from the dough and ready to cook in order for them to not stick together (dry).

The main ingredients in boba, that is cooked, is either starch or flour, which usually makes up over 95% of the ingredients in the boba pearls. It is the water that moisturizes the starch/flour and causes the starch/flour to bind and form dough. It is the water that holds the dough together.

Whenever boba is formed from the dough, it will naturally try to stick and clump with other boba pearls whenever it comes in contact with them if the pearls are moist enough. This only happens when the boba pearls are moist, not when they are dry.

How do you fix sticky boba?

This will show you what you need to do to minimize or eliminate the sticking and clumping of your boba pearls before, during, and after they are cooked.

Before Cooking

The quality of the dough before it is used to form the boba pearls will determine how sticky the boba pearls will be. If the dough is really loose or soft, and has not been properly kneaded, then the dough will be sticky. Even if the dough is slightly sticky, it will effect the actual pearls when they are formed, and make them really sticky before and during the cooking process.

It is very important to check this, as this can be the main cause to why your boba is sticking and clumping while it is cooking. Dough lacking strength can make cooking boba of any type a nightmare.

The boba dough made from scratch has to be hand kneaded with enough flour or starch first before making boba pearls out of it to prevent/minimize the boba pearls from sticking. Doing this will also make the boba more resilient if it still does stick while it is cooking. This will make it easier to separate them without destroying the quality of the boba.

Also, before boba pearls are cooked, and right after they are formed into tapioca pearls, the boba needs to be gently rolled into a coating of the same starch or flour that it was made from. This dry coating will act as a barrier between the moisturized boba pearls formed from the dough when they are touching each other. If they are coated properly, the boba will not stick to each other, even if they are a little stacked.

As mentioned, the starch/flour powder doesn’t stick in the container, because no water has been added to it. You can mimic this by coating all of your boba pearls in light starch or flour.

Examine the way that the boba pearls are made from the suppliers that package them. The boba in the package always arrives dry and hard compared to the boba that has been freshly formed out of dough. Tapioca pearls like this can crumble easily if not handled with care, but they are less prone to sticking and clumping.

Letting the freshly made boba pearls dry out a bit after they have been formed from the dough will make them less prone to sticking.

During Cooking

To prevent, minimize, or stop boba from sticking while it is cooking, reassure that the water is hot enough before the boba is placed in the water.

The water should always be at a rolling boiling, and hot enough to go back into a rolling boil almost immediately after the boba is poured into the pot. The motion of the water will keep the boba separated and prevent clumping if there is enough water, and the boba is allowed to move freely move in the pot. Clumping can occur if too much boba is being cooked at one time. Don’t crowd the pot.

Before the boba is placed in the water, always lightly coat them all in flour/starch first if they are made from scratch. I realized that this helped the boba from immediately sticking as soon as they were placed in the water. The better they were coated the less they sticked at the start. They did not stick to each other or the bottom of the pot.

After the boba is poured into the water, immediately, but gently, thoroughly stir the boba. Take a spoon and move them around and try to keep them spaced out evenly in the pot. After 5 minutes, check on them. If they aren’t rising to the surface of the water and floating, then stir them again. Use the spoon to gently lift them up in the water as if you are trying to encourage them to float.

Keep checking every 5 minutes to see if they are floating in the water yet. Once the boba is floating in the water, then you are in good shape. They will cook the rest of the time without sticking.

After The Boba Is Cooked

After the boba is cooked, they should not be sticking, unless they haven’t been cooked all the way. Boba also will not stick if they are placed in enough sugar water or moisture after they have been cooked. If the boba isn’t kept properly moisturized, then they will attempt to turn back into their original quality that they were before they were cooked: the same dryer stickier uncooked dough balls.

Without enough moisture, the boba will slowly dry out and become sticky. They will begin to shrink and stick to each other. They may even have a stronger bind to each other than what they did before they were cooked. It will also make the boba slimey. Heated water needs to be added to them in order for them to separate again.

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