Gums – Guar and Xanthan

  • Many consider Guar or Xanthan gums a key to successful gluten-free baking. It provides elasticity or stickiness, a property that gluten usually provides. The gums add volume as well as helping to thicken and stabilize or hold the flours together. All of these help to keep baked goods from crumbling.
  • Xanthan gum is formulated in a laboratory setting. During the fermentation process, the bacteria are fed corn syrup. The mixture is then pasteurized to kill the bacteria, and the gum is then separated.
  • Due to its ability to greatly increase the viscosity of foods, xanthan gum plays an invaluable role in gluten-free baking. Just a very small amount provides a ‘stickiness’ and structure to the dough, which, without gluten, could end up a flat crumbly mess.
  • Other products that commonly use xanthan gum are salad dressings, ice creams, sauces, toothpaste and cosmetics.
  • Xanthan gum is gluten free and safe for people with celiac disease but some people are sensitive to xanthan, evidenced by gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, gas and diarrhea. For these folks, consuming even a minor amount can prompt trips to the bathroom. A xanthan reaction can mystify celiacs, making them think they accidentally ingested gluten. If you are sensitive to xanthan, use guar gum instead. It makes a good substitute and is also less expensive.
  • Guar gum is a natural fiber that comes from the seed of the guar plant native to India and Pakistan.
  • Guar gum, is usually less expensive and less processed than xanthan gum. It is used in small amounts, but is invaluable to gluten-free baking by producing a similar effect to the product as the structure gluten usually provides. It acts as an emulsifier, thickener and stabilizer.
  • Guar gum is a good source of soluble fibre (which lowers cholesterol and promotes bowel regularity), and slows absorption of sugar in the small intestine, which can be helpful to diabetics. Its low digestibility gives a feeling of fullness, and the slower digestion decreases the glycemic index of the meal. However, some people are sensitive to increases of soluble fibre in their diet, for these folks, consuming even a minor amount of Gaur Gum can prompt trips to the bathroom.

Store in:

  • An airtight container at room temperature or in a refrigerator

How to use:

  • Add ½ teaspoon of guar or xanthan gum per cup of flour when making cakes, muffins, cookies, quick breads, and bars. If you find your baked products are too crumbly, increase Gums by a small amount, maybe by 1/8 – 1/4 tsp at a time.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of guar or xanthan gum per cup of flour when making yeast breads, pizza dough, and other yeast items. If you find your dough is too crumbly, increase Gums by a small amount, maybe by 1/4 – 1/2 tsp at a time.

Watch out for:

  • Since the sugar used in the fermentation of xanthan gum is often corn derived, some people allergic to corn may also react to it.
  • When using guar gum or xanthan gum, it’s important to measure carefully and not use too much, otherwise your baked goods may have a heavy, gummy texture.
  • If you buy a commercial Gluten Free All Purpose flour blend, read the ingredient list carefully. Some blends contain salt and xanthan or guar gum. If so, there is no need to add more.

Substitution: try Potato Flour (not Potato Starch) add 2 to 4 tablespoons per recipe