Xanthan gum is a microbial polysaccharide used in baked goods and skin care products. It was first produced commercially by Kelco Company (a division of Merck & Co. Inc) using a fermentation process. The Keltrol Xanthan Gum was developed by fermentation of sugars in the presence of bacterium Xanthomonas campestris. Later, the FDA approved it for food use in 1969. Today, xanthan gum has numerous applications and new ones continue to be found almost on a daily basis. The unique chemical structure of this wonderful gum makes it a versatile product of choice, having hundreds of functional uses.
The uniqueness of xanthan gum’s molecular structure is thanks to its cellulose backbone riding on tri-saccharide side chains. This helps it bind water very strongly--a feature that is especially beneficial in gluten free baking.
Xanthan gum acts as an emulsifier, stabilizer and thickener. It provides body and "mouth-feel" to sauces and salad dressings, etc. In gluten free baking, it imparts the dough or batter a stickiness which would otherwise be achieved using gluten. It also prevents the splashing of dough when filling moulds with the batter. For yolk free baking, xanthan gum stabilizes egg whites and replaces the fats and emulsifiers that yolks otherwise would provide. In fat free drinks and diet products, it adds a mouth-feel and texture and holds particles of cocoa and orange pulp in suspension. Here are some more detailed applications of xanthan gum:
Xanthan gum has a unique ability to hold and retain bubbles. When combined with methylcellulose and hydrolyzed soy proteins, it provides stability to foamy foods and drinks.
As stated before, xanthan gum provides viscosity to batter and dough by trapping air bubbles. This trapping of air bubbles helps dough to rise despite having a gluten structure. Besides the air bubbles, xanthan gum is also hydrophilic (meaning it is water-loving), and allows it to retain moisture in whatever product it is in...This is especially great for finished products, such as frozen and baked goods, and ensures that they retain moisture and don't dry out.
Xanthan gum mimics the texture of fat on the palate and is used to replace egg yolks in baking and other recipes.
Xanthan gum can also be used to thicken alcoholic beverages. While it cannot be added in the hydrated form to alcoholic beverages, one can use it in a pre-hydrated form in water based solutions. Mojitos with intensely flavored mint infusions thickened using xanthan gum and added to a rum base will yield a beautiful drink with a great mouth-feel.
Xanthan gum offers high resistance to enzymatic degradation. This property makes it a wonderful addition to foods having high levels of enzymes prone to degradation. For example, chefs add xanthan gum to peach puree when making bellini. When the puree is added to the champagne, it blends evenly in the beverage instead of separating into layers.
Many commercial cosmetics and skin care products use xanthan gum. You might find commercial cosmetics listing it as corn starch gum. The main reason why we have added xanthan gum to our deodorant is thanks to its emulsification action. It helps bind the ingredients in the deodorant and maintains uniformity and prevents separation. Xanthan gum is a great alternative to chemical emulsifiers and serves as a texturizer, carrier agent and gelling agent. The gum also stabilizes the formulation and thickens the product.
Xanhan gum is a blessing to people with gluten sensitivity, ADD, ADHD, IBS, etc. The gum easily replaces gluten to prevent symptoms caused by gluten intolerance.
The advantage of using xanthan gum in commercial food products and diet/low fat foods is that it is needed in very little quantities. You can add it to all your preparations without having to worry about whether it will change the flavor or taste of the main ingredients. Most culinary preparations need less than 0.4% of xanthan gum--so you can add just a little bit to your recipes while avoiding the slimy texture that comes at higher concentrations. It is clear and odorless and will not affect the color or texture of food in any adverse way.
Very few side effects of xanthan gum have been reported so far. However, in large amounts, it can act as a laxative. There are no known side effects of xanthan gum when used topically.
Our products that contain xanthan gum:
1. Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary by M. Varinia Michalun, Joseph C. DiNardo
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2. Stefan Gates on E Numbers
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