What Is Xanthan Gum?
Xanthan gum is one of the 30 most popular ingredients used in food products.
It is made by fermenting corn sugar with a bacteria a tiny microorganism called Xanthomonas campestris and is a natural carbohydrate. It is the same bacteria that creates black spots on broccoli and cauliflower. The result is a slimy goo that is then dried up and ground into a fine white powder.
What Does Xanthan Gum Do?
You’ll find it in salad dressings, sauces, ice cream and also gluten free foods. It helps to prevent oil separation by stabilising the emulsion although it is not an emulsifier.
Xanthan gum also helps suspend solid particles, such as spices. Also used in frozen foods and beverages, xanthan gum is used in ice creams as well to prevent the formation of ice crystals and keep the product “smooth”.
Why Use Xanthan Gum In Molecular Gastronomy?
It’s ability to thicken sauces and dressings as well as to make fat-reduced, no-ice cream milkshakes that are just as thick makes it a great product with endless possibilities in molecular gastronomy.
The value in using xanthan gum resides in its strong thickening power. The anti-settling properties of xanthan gum can be favorably used in mixology, or the art of cocktails. For example it allows ingredients to remain suspended, such as pieces of fruit in molecular cocktails. It can also be used to reverse the components of a cocktail, whereby the heaviest alcohol becomes the element that floats.
Sauces thickened with xanthan gum are always light and creamy since the additive enhances the retention of air bubbles in the preparations. Adding xanthan gum to egg whites before beating improves the foam.