Crumbly xanthan gum in a wooden spoon. Natural thickening agent used in cooking.
Food - Drink
What Is Xanthan Gum And Why Is It Added To Food?
Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide (a kind of carbohydrate or a string of sugars) made from a fermentation process, in which the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris is fed sugar and turned into a solid state with the help of isopropyl alcohol. While this sounds scary, xanthan gum won't hurt you and can be a secret weapon in the kitchen.
Xanthan gum is used as an emulsifier and as a thickening agent that keeps ingredients in foods smoothly blended together, and its abilities are unaffected by temperature. It has no taste, smell, or color, and is the key to making gluten-free baked goods that hold together — just add a ½ teaspoon of the hum for every cup of gluten-free flour.
Xanthan gum offers no nutrition or calories when consumed, and is recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration, though in large quantities it can cause gastrointestinal troubles, since it's a soluble fiber with laxative effects. As long as you only consume up to 15 grams per day, the gum should not cause problems.
Guar gum is another popular thickener and emulsifier that is often used in gluten-free baking. Guar gum is better suited for binding cold foods such as ice cream and keeping them smooth, but xanthan gum is the better choice for baked goods and any recipe with acidic citrus juice, which can inhibit guar gum's thickening abilities.