This product’s name may sound intimidating, but it is actually just a type of soluble fibre. Because it’s highly viscous, it’s often used as a means of thickening foods such as jams, cereals, sauces, soups, and more, and can also be used in breads, cakes, and other similar items. Xanthan Gum is created through the bacteria from various plant starches, such as that of wheat, corn, or soy, and is sometimes also called corn sugar gum – it is produced during the fermentation process of glucose, sucrose, or fructose, before being extracted and dried. Thanks to its thickening properties, it’s also been used in some non-food products such as toothpaste – and while its health effects are still being researched when consumed in overtly high doses (due to it lacking any particularly large nutritional values), it has become more popular in recent years thanks to its highly effective uses in many health foods when used in moderate amounts. Xanthan gum has been found to potentially help fight constipation (thanks to its high fibre content) as well as decrease levels of bad cholesterol, and has been proven to be popular with those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance or sensitivity, since it’s gluten-free yet still filling. Thanks to this filling quality, it’s also been touted as a great product when used in recipes for products that support weight loss endeavours.
How do you use it?
Xanthan Gum can be used to help thicken, bind, hold together, or generally boost and bulk up anything from salad dressings and sauces to soups, baked goods, yoghurts, ice creams, jams and jellies, and even pastry fillings. Recently, it has become particularly popular in the creation of gluten-free, grain-free, or low carb, keto- or paleo-friendly breads, cakes, and other baked goods.
Some of the other items that are commonly used where Xanthan Gum may be in gluten-free baking include agar agar, flax seeds, guar gum, psyllium husk, egg whites, or acacia gum. Since it is created through bacteria, it is not always vegan – some varieties are, but this depends on which brand you choose, so if you’re seeking a vegan option, it’s always worth checking the label! However, if you’re looking for a gluten-free product, then as long as you seek one that is derived from a source other than wheat (such as corn or potatoes), then it will be.