Xanthan gum is one of the food industries top additives. What is xanthan gum and what are xanthan gum uses? Are there alternatives?
You may be reading the ingredients at the supermarket one day. It’s fascinating to read the ingredients. Many of them are hard to pronounce. Or, even better, are unknown to many people. Xanthan gum is one of these common ingredients. What are the xanthan gum uses? Is it bad for you? Are there alternatives?
Xanthan gum has a variety of uses. It is one of the top 30 ingredients used in food products on supermarket shelves. It’s primarily used as a gelling agent and thickener. A lot of gluten-free baked goods use xanthan gum to give dough the necessary elasticity and sticky consistency.
How does xanthan gum come about?
Xanthan gum is typically derived from corn sugar that has been fermented with bacteria. It can also be made from soy or wheat. According to Wikipedia, xanthan gum is produced by fermenting glucose, sucrose, or lactose. The product of fermentation is then purified, dried, and powdered to make xanthan gum.
What are xanthan gum uses?
One popular use is to allow ingredients to mix more uniformly. For example, oil and water do not generally mix well. This is why you often find xanthan gum in salad dressings.
Another popular use of xanthan gum is it is used as a thickening agent. This is particularly common in many pastries. Xanthan gum allows the crust of many pastries to retain its crisp crust. Pastries are not the only food product that needs added thickeners. Oftentimes one may find xanthan gum in fat free salad dressing.
Xanthan gum is a popular ingredient in ice cream. For ice cream, xanthan gum prevents ice crystals from forming. It also allows for ice cream to keep its smooth consistency.
You may be wondering if xanthan gum is safe to consume? Just because it is a popular additive doesn’t mean it is safe to eat. Similar homemade recipes typically do not add xanthan gum. This would get many to wonder the integrity of it in food. However, xanthan gum is safe to eat with minimal health risks. There is one risk. If you are allergic to corn, wheat, or soy you should probably stay away from xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is derived from the above products.
Xanthan gum is popular in low carb and gluten free cooking. You can typically find it in the gluten free baking section of any grocery store. Or, you can purchase it online from Amazon.
If you are allergic to xanthan gum, is there an alterative? The answer is yes. The best bet for those allergic to Xanthan gum, or simply want to do away with it, is to make your own food products. If you have a recipe calling for xanthan gum, you can usually substitute it out. The best alternatives to use would be: psyllium fiber, chia seeds, glucomannan, ground flax seeds, gelatin, and agar agar. These products can give a similar thickening effect.
Xanthan gum has many uses and is relatively safe to consume. However, if you have a food allergy to corn, wheat, or soy there are alternatives you can use. Be mindful of the ingredients of your products the next time you are at the grocery store. You would be surprised as to how many products contain xanthan gum.