Apr 09 2012
If you’ve ever eaten Kraft French dressing, Wonder Bread OR gluten free baked goods, in all likelihood, you’ve eaten xanthan gum. Without gluten to bind and stretch particles of flour, a baked good is going to need something else to produce the same or similar effect and that something else is usually xanthan gum.
Xanthan gum is a corn-based, fermented product. It's made by fermenting corn sugar with a microbial called "Xanthomonas campestris." It's used extensively in the food industry to make products thicker and it's a common ingredient in gluten-free recipes.
Another “gum” that accomplishes similar results is Guar Gum. “Guar gum comes from a seed that is native to tropical Asia”
I’ll mention the differences I found while exploring each, though I discovered quite the rabbit hole with xanthan gum!
According to Bob’s Red Mill (my go to source for milled whole grains) xanthan gum is the better option for baked goods and foods with a high acid content (such as citrus juice, for example), whereas guar gum is better suited to cold food preparations.
Beyond that, it appears that in general, it takes about 50% less xanthan than guar, to do the same job, whether foods are baked or prepared cold.
And now for that rabbit hole I mentioned: Xanthan gum, as mentioned, is a manufactured food product; the “microbial” used with the fermenting corn sugar is one responsible for crop rot.
“This polysaccharide is an ingredient in products like Kraft French dressing, Weight Watchers food, Wonder Bread products, and more . From carbohydrate fermentation by X. campestris, xanthan gum’s pseudoplastic, easily blended characteristic allows it to be used as a thickener by increasing viscosity of a liquid . In addition, xanthan gum also prolongs oil and gas wells even after production. Either pumped into the ground or using high pressure sandblasting, mixing water and xanthan gum into the wells will help thicken the liquid to release crude products of oil and cut through rocks in gas and oil wells.”
Excuse me, did you say “pseudoplastic”? Did you say “cuts through rocks”? Did you say it’s used in “Kraft French Dressing, Weight Watchers food and Wonder Bread products”? Could it be made with Monsanto (gmo) corn? Holy cripes Batman!
Let me get this straight: It sounds like one of those food additives that (although organic in nature) is NOT something I would normally keep in my pantry and has been cultivated in a petri dish to manipulate “food products”.
Hmmm. Does that meet Holistic Kitchen criteria?
NO, Robin, it does not! Not only that, I can’t help wondering if has been widely used in the food industry for quite a while, as well as more recently in gluten-free baking (evermore popular to an increasing population of the gluten intolerant), how long will it take before our bodies start rejecting it, just like they have been rejecting gluten?
This definitely adds to the notion that there really may be something to that Paleolithic diet (no grains, sugar or legumes (among other things). Without those, you don’t have baked goods. Nor do you have processed food products either.
I told you it was a rabbit hole!
Nonetheless, I continue to experiment with baked goods using Guar Gum (always have). I’m still working on the textures, but have good results, in general, without ever using xanthan gum.
I would love to hear from my gluten-free readers about their experiences with xanthan or guar gum. Please comment below!