What is Xanthan Gum? Use of Xanthan Gum – How much to use?

The use of xanthan gum explained by internationally renowned gluten-free expert, Carol Fenster, Ph.D. She is the author of several gluten-free cookbooks and allergy friendly lifestyle books. She will contribute an article each month to this blog. Below she has provided not only gluten-free newbies with some great information, but for gluten-free veterans, as well!  Thank you so much, Carol for explaining the use of xanthan gum!

Dr. Carol Fenster

What is Xanthan Gum and Why Should I Use It?
By Carol Fenster, Ph.D.

One of the most frequent questions I hear from newly-diagnosed people is “what is xanthan gum?”

Ad
Definition of Xanthan Gum

The technical explanation is that xanthan gum is a polysaccharide, made from a pure culture fermentation of any carbohydrate (most likely corn) with the plant bacteria Xanthomonas Campestris. The mixture is then purified, yielding a polysaccharide gum.

Why Is Xanthan Gum Important?

Xanthan gum is the glue that holds our baked goods together by performing a function similar to gluten.

Picture millions of tiny cells or balloons in your batter or dough. As the leavening (baking powder, baking soda, or yeast) starts expanding, the cells created by xanthan gum provide little containers to hold the carbon dioxide released by the leavening agent. These cells provide a structure to hold the carbon dioxide and help your baked goods rise, instead of falling flat as a pancake.

The xanthan gum also acts an emulsifier by helping the water and oil stay together once they’re blended. That’s why we say it “stabilizes” the baked item. Knowing all this, you can see why xanthan gum as an “investment” in successful, gluten-free baking.

If Xanthan Gum Isn’t Right for You

In case you’re wondering…manufacturers assure us that there is very little, if any, corn left over. And, very little yeast or mold from the fermentation, either. So, this product is not likely to be a problem for those sensitive to corn or yeast. But, if it bothers you in any way—or you simply don’t want to use it—then don’t use it.

Try using another member of the gum family––guar gum, which is a legume called Cyanmopsis tetragonoloba. Guar gum performs similarly to xanthan gum in baking, but I use 50% more guar gum to achieve the desired result. In other words, if your recipe calls for 1 teaspoon xanthan gum, use 1 1/2 teaspoons guar gum.

How Much Do I Use?

Some people think if “a little is good, then a lot is better.” Not so! If you use too much xanthan gum, baked goods turn rubbery and salad dressings resemble glue. After thousands of baking experiences, I’ve come to really appreciate xanthan gum and, while I tend to use a bit more now than I did in the past, I don’t overdo it. I think every baked item (yes, even cookies––nobody likes crumbly cookies!) requires some xanthan gum for optimum texture.

How Much Xanthan Gum?

Where? How Much? Tips for Success
Salad Dressings 1/8-1/4  teaspoon per cup of liquid Mix with dry ingredients first (e.g.; salt, pepper, sugar), then add liquids. Or, whisk into oil until smooth and then add remaining ingredients.
Cookies 1/4  teaspoon per cup of flour Especially important when honey is the sweetener because honey makes a softer cookie.
Cakes 1/2  teaspoon per cup of flour
Muffins, Quick Breads 3/4  teaspoon per cup of flour
Bread 1 to 1 1/2  teaspoons per cup of flour
Pizza 2  teaspoons per cup of flour
Thickener for Sauces 1  teaspoon in place of each table-spoon of original thickener (e.g., wheat flour or cornstarch). Mix with dry ingredients first (e.g., salt, spices) then add liquids. Or, whisk into oil until smooth and then add remaining ingredients.

Visit Carol’s website at www.Glutenfree101.com

This entry was posted in Carol Fenster Gluten Free Recipes, Gluten-Free Ingredients. Bookmark this blog post.

13 Responses to What is Xanthan Gum? Use of Xanthan Gum – How much to use?

  1. Hyd says:

    Dear Carol and carla ;
    How much xanthan gum can we use if we’re making a Muffin and at what moment we will add the gum.

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Hyd,

      As you will see above, Carol suggests that you use 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum per cup of flour blend you use. You combine the gum with the flour blend. Then when the recipe calls for adding the flour, you will add them both together.

      I hope this helps.

  2. Joanna W says:

    When your are using guar gum do you still need to use baking powder or baking soda in a recipe? And is it always 1 tsp. For every cup of flour?

  3. Richard Krayewsky says:

    How much xanthan gum would you use in thickening up a home made liquor which has a consistancy of coffee. How would you incorporate the gum into the liquid since there are no dry ingredients used. Any help be much appreciated.

    Thank you

  4. James says:

    Given that kneading’s purpose is to hydrate, distribute ingredients and cause the gluten to develop, does ‘xantham’ dough also require a similar amount of kneading?

    • James,

      When I first began developing gluten-free recipes I never kneaded dough because I read that it did not do any good due to the lack of gluten. However, I have discovered it smoothes cracks in gluten free dough (hydrates) just as it does in gluten dough. Not all gluten dough recipes are stiff enough to knead though. For stiff dough, go ahead and knead. However, good bread dough usually is so moist and soft, no kneading is required. I knead a stiff dough for about 5 to 7 minutes or until all seams disappear.

      I hope this helps you.

      Carla

  5. Patty Frederick says:

    Dear Carla and Carol~ First, thank you all your information, very informative. My question for you ladies; Is Xanthan gum powder safe to use in canning recipes? Corn starch and flour is no longer considered safe to use when it comes to canning. Any information will be appreciated. Thank you, Patty

  6. Savannah says:

    How much xanthan gum can you use if you’re making a meat pie? I want the pastry to be crispy and not crumble.

    • Hi Savannah,

      Carol Fenster wrote this article and doesn’t answer questions here. You can visit her carolfenster.com to ask her questions. My advise is to follow suggestions for pie crust. And the best way to make it crispy is by using some shortening in the dough. See this recipe for a single pie crust in my quick and easy gluten free phyllo dough recipe at http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/gluten-free-phyllo-dough/. And if you use thinner crust, it will crisp up just fine.

  7. Kim Gibson says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’m opening a gluten free catering business soon, so knowing this is really going to help me!

  8. melissa says:

    So thrilled to finally get all the answers I wanted about xg!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>