Monday, September 8, 2014

How to Use Xanthan Gum in Baking and Cooking


What is Xanthan Gum ?

Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide secreted by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris, used as a food additive and rheology modifier, commonly used as a food thickening agent (for example in salad dressings) and a stabilizer (in cosmetic products to prevent ingredients from separating). It is composed of pentasaccharide repeat units, comprising glucose, mannose, and glucuronic acid in the molar ratio 2.0:2.0:1.0. It is produced by the fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose. After a fermentation period, the polysaccharide is precipitated from a growth medium with isopropyl alcohol, dried, and ground into a fine powder. Later, it is added to a liquid medium to form the gum.


One of the most remarkable properties of xanthan gum is its ability to produce an increase in the viscosity of a liquid by adding a very small quantity of gum, on the order of one percent. In most foods, it is used at 0.5%, and can be used in lower concentrations. The viscosity of xanthan gum solutions decreases with higher shear rates; this is called shear thinning or pseudo plasticity. This means that a product subjected to shear, whether from mixing, shaking or even chewing, will thin out, but, once the shear forces are removed, the food will thicken back up.

Xanthan gum is manufactured by biotechnological processes. It is classified under the name B-1459, and can successfully replace other natural gums. Numerous species of Xanthomonas produce extracellular polysaccharides and ordinarily, extracellular polysaccharides are produced by various species of microorganisms. 

Xanthan gum is manufactured in the United States (US), Europe, China, and Japan. The preferred production route is fermentation since it does not depend on variable factors, for instance weather conditions, and consequently a more consistent product is obtained, at a cost which is less subject to political or economic whim. The gum is regarded as a harmless food additive for, among other aims, thickening, when its use follows practical manufacturing practices. In the early 1960s, the Kelco Company in San Diego, California, started producing xanthan gum under the registered trademark Kelzan, and its use was permitted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1969.

9 Scientific Tips for Using Xanthan Gum for the Amateur Cook and Professional Chef

1) Stable cheese dressings and flavored oil emulsions that are stabilized by the inclusion of xanthan gum have improved freeze-thaw resistance.

2) Xanthan gum dissolves in hot or cold water to form viscous nonthixotropic solutions.

3) Xanthan gum is an effective foam stabilizer for beer and other malt beverages.

4) Temperature has a very slight effect on xanthan gum solution viscosity.

5) Xanthan gum concentrations of 0.1–1.0% give a pH in the range of 6.0–7.0.

6) Xanthan gum solution viscosity is in essence independent of pH and the dried polymer powder can be dissolved directly in acid solutions.

7) Stable edible oil-in-water emulsions can be prepared by using as little as 0.05% xanthan gum.

8) Xanthan gum is useful as a thickening agent in pickled sauces and relishes.

9) Aqueous solutions of 1% xanthan gum can produce unsupported films of good quality; inclusion of glycerol reduces their brittleness.

Try this tasty recipe... Yogurt Spheres Recipe by Reverse Spherification- Molecular Gastronomy Recipe

7 Specific Mixing Techniques You Need to Follow When Using Xanthan Gum in Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking

1) Cookie and bar recipes: Add 1/2 teaspoon (or less) xanthan gum or guar gum per one cup gluten-free flour used.

2) To use xanthan gum in your dairy-free recipes, use about 1/8 t. per cup of liquid and combine these in a blender, not by hand, as it will "gum" will instantly form clumps if not constantly in motion while it is incorporated into the liquid. 

3) For bread and pizza dough recipes: Add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum per cup of gluten-free flour used in bread and pizza dough recipes.

4) For sauces, blending the xanthan gum first with a bit of oil before adding the soymilk or rice milk produces the best taste and texture, as this gives the sauce richness and depth that would normally be achieved by cream, butter or eggs.

5) For recipes with liquid ingredients, food scientists recommend adding it first to the oil, mixing it thoroughly, then adding it to the remaining liquid ingredients. Another trick that always works is to use a whisk instead of a spoon when mixing it with other ingredients to ensure that it blends well.

6) Cake, muffin and quick bread recipes: Add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum per one cup of gluten-free flour used.

7) Whether you are making pizza crust or ice cream, it is important to follow some guidelines to obtain the best results. If you are using xanthan gum instead of wheat flour or cornstarch to thicken a sauce, then mix it first with all the other dry ingredients, such as spices and salt. Then add the liquid ingredients to the dry mix for the desired consistency. 

Proper Amounts in Using Xanthan Gum in Food Preparation

1) When making an emulsion, the more xanthan gum you add, the stronger the emulsion will be. However, it will also thicken the emulsion, which may or may not be desirable. To start binding an emulsion a ratio of around 0.1% can be used. If you want to also thicken the emulsion you can add up to around 0.8% of xanthan gum.

2) As a thickening agent, the amount of xanthan gum you will use depends on how thick you want the liquid to be. In general, you should use a 0.2% weight ratio for light thickening, 0.7% for a thicker sauce, and up to 1.5% for a very thick sauce. Be warned though, adding too much xanthan gum can result in a texture and mouthfeel resembling mucus.

3) To make a xanthan gum foam a ratio between 0.2% and 0.8% is typically used. The more xanthan gum you use the larger the bubbles that can occur and the denser the foam will be.

4) For bubbles, resembling soap bubbles, a typical ratio is 0.1% to 0.4% xanthan gum and 0.2% to 2.0% Versawhip or egg white powder.

Related Post: Uses of Hydrocolloids in Cooking and Food Products

Is Xanthan Gum Bad for You?

Possibly Effective For:

1) Lowering cholesterol levels in people with diabetes.

2) Use as a bulk-forming laxative to treat constipation. Xanthan gum is a "highly efficient laxative," according to a scientific study that fed 15 g/day for 10 days to 18 normal volunteers. This is not a dosage that would be encountered in normal consumption of foodstuffs. This study set out to examine the use of xantham gum as a laxative.

In the study, it was found that xanthan gum binds water very efficiently, which significantly aids passing stools. Some people react to much smaller amounts of xanthan gum with symptoms of intestinal bloating and diarrhea.

3) Lowering blood sugar in people with diabetes. Xanthan gum might decrease blood sugar by decreasing the absorption of sugars from food. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking xanthan gum with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to be too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

4) Use as a saliva substitute for dry mouth.

5 Perfect Xanthan Gum Substitutes

Those unable to use xanthan gum or guar gum in their baking are still left with a lot of options. What’s more, these solutions promise to deliver results which are just as desirable as using xanthan gum or guar gum. You will definitely find a binding agent that works best for you.

1) Agar Agar

Agar agar can be found in a flavorless variety and it acts as a thickener, stabilizer, texturizer, forming a gel-like substance when mixed with water. In gluten-free baking, this would result in a stretchier dough, chewier breads and moist cakes. That said, it’s a good idea to exercise caution when using agar agar as using too much can result in excess moisture being retained, making your bread or cakes soggy. Agar agar is an affordable option at $6.59 for a 2 oz. bottle. Learn more about agar agar at What are the Types of Agar Products?

2) Psyllium Fiber

Psyllium fiber has been shown to be a great binding agent which improves the baking quality of bread. If you add 5% psyllium fiber in your flour blend. It will make bread rise a little higher, it also retained more moisture and had more volume overall. Psyllium fibre generally enhanced the physical properties of the doughs, due to the film-like structure that it was able to form and nutritional quality. Psyllium fiber is effective at improving the texture and the overall quality of your baking. You can buy psyllim fiber for about $14 at

3) Flax Seeds

In gluten-free baking, ground flaxseeds do a great job of binding ingredients together and imitating the desirable ‘gluten effect’ by adding moisture and softness to your baking. It actually have to be grounded for the binding effect to take place. The preparation involves adding ground flax to boiling water in order to form a thick paste which can then be mixed with gluten-free flour. Flax seed is a very cheap purchase – $14 for a 4 pack of them.

4) Chia Seeds

Chia seeds can be used as a binding agent too. This is because they are very high in soluble fiber and they are also hydrophilic or water absorbing. They can absorb up to 12 times their own weight in water, forming a gel like substance which locks in moisture. In baking, this would improve the overall structure of breads, pastries and cakes as they wouldn’t turn out dry or crumbly due to lack of moisture. Chia seeds can also be ground and added to flour blends although it is not required for their ‘binding’ to take effect. Chia seeds is reasonably priced at $16.50 for a 16 oz. package.

5) Gelatin

Gelatin when mixed with water, it forms a gel-like substance which can be used in baking to make doughs stretchy and to retain moisture in baked food. The only drawback is that gelatin is derived from animals and is therefore not favorable for vegetarians or vegans. Gelatin costs about $16.69 for a 1 lb. container.

What are Xanthan Gum Deadly Side Effects?

Special Precautions and Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of xanthan gum during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid using amounts larger than those normally found in foods.

Nausea, vomiting, appendicitis, hard stools that are difficult to expel (fecal impaction), narrowing or blockage of the intestine, or undiagnosed stomach pain: Do not use xanthan gum if you have any of these conditions. It is a bulk-forming laxative that could be harmful in these situations.

Surgery: Xanthan gum might lower blood sugar levels. There is a concern that it might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using xanthan gum at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Xanthan gum is safe when up to 15 grams per day are taken. It can cause some side effects such as intestinal gas (flatulence) and bloating.

People who are exposed to xanthan gum powder might experience flu-like symptoms, nose and throat irritation, and lung problems.

The following doses by mouth have been studied in scientific clinical research:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set the maximum acceptable intake for xanthan gum as a food additive at 10 mg/kg per day and as a laxative at 15 grams per day. For safety and effectiveness, bulk laxatives such as xanthan gum require extra fluids.

For diabetes: a typical dose is 12 grams per day as an ingredient in muffins.

Other Food Uses of Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is used in gluten-free baking. Since the gluten found in wheat must be removed, xanthan gum is used to give the dough or batter a "stickiness" that would otherwise be achieved with the gluten.

Xanthan gum is most often found in salad dressings and sauces. It helps to prevent oil separation by stabilizing the emulsion, although it is not an emulsifier. 

The xanthan gum makes it thick enough at rest in the bottle to keep the mixture fairly homogeneous, but the shear forces generated by shaking and pouring thins it, so it can be easily poured. When it exits the bottle, the shear forces are removed and it thickens back up, so it clings to the salad. Unlike other gums, it is very stable under a wide range of temperatures and pH.

Xanthan gum also helps thicken commercial egg substitutes made from egg whites, to replace the fat and emulsifiers found in yolks. It is also a preferred method of thickening liquids for those with swallowing disorders, since it does not change the color or flavor of foods or beverages at typical use levels.

Xanthan gum also helps suspend solid particles, such as spices. Also used in frozen foods and beverages, xanthan gum helps create the pleasant texture in many ice creams, along with guar gum and locust bean gum. 

Other Names of Xanthan Gum

There are many substitutes for xanthan gum when used for baking such as guar gum and locust bean gum.

Bacterial Polysaccharide
Corn Sugar Gum
Goma Xantana,
Gomme de Sucre de Maïs
Gomme de Xanthane
Gomme Xanthane
Polysaccharide Bactérien
Polysaccharide de Type Xanthane
Polysaccharide Xanthane
Xanthomonas campestris

Video: Watch how xanthan gum is made


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