In years past, you’d mainly find xanthan gum and guar gum on most gluten free product labels. Nowadays you’ll find newer ingredients such as arabic gum, formally known as gum arabic. Arabic gum is a natural gum made from the hardened sap of acacia trees found in Africa and Australia; Acacia senegal trees, found in Africa, Pakistan and India; and Acacia seyal trees, where the gum is used to treat or prevent several ailments, including digestive issues and high cholesterol. Gum arabic is a soluble dietary fiber with unique properties, and is derived of 80% fiber.
Gum arabic is used in the confectionery industry to prevent sugar from crystallizing, as a stabilizer (makes dough and batters stiffer – I didn’t have any success with it), thickener, and emulsifier (binder; mixes oils and liquid).
I’ve heard from some of you regarding not being able to tolerate xanthan gum or guar gum, and needing a substitute for these gums. So, I had to share this new information with you. Because most xanthan gum is derived from corn, and many of you cannot tolerate corn, arabic gum is an excellent, natural choice.
Most of you are able to tolerate guar gum. Guar gum is made from dehydrated, ground raw guar beans, also known as cluster beans. Those of you who cannot tolerate legumes, would also benefit from gum arabic or other gums.
Another substitute for guar and xanthan gum is carrageenan which is derived from moss, and is often substituted for gelatin.
And yet another xanthan gum substitute is locust bean gum, also known as carob gum, carob bean gum, and carobin. Carob gum is a vegetable gum derived from the seeds of the carob tree. It is used for thickening and jelling in the food industry, with a sweet chocolaty flavor, though the powder itself is usually light yellow in color.
Over the years I have found some recipes do not need any gums at all. When using high amounts of eggs, or fruit purees, which make excellent binders, no gums are usually needed.
If you have any further questions or advise on other guar and xanthan gum substitutes, please leave a comment below.
Tip: Adding 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon of a gum to each quart of your homemade ice cream makes for a close to store-bought ice cream. It cuts back on ice crystals from forming and provides a nice chew.
I haven’t experimented with psyllium husk powder a lot but I love what it does for gluten free bread recipes! It’s a retains moisture more than gums do, which lengthens its shelf life. (Though I prefer to freeze gluten free bread.) Meanwhile, one member, who is an avid baker, uses psyllium husk in equal amounts as gums are called for in a recipe. She just adds about 2 parts water as it absorbs liquid quite readily. I used 1 tablespoon psyllium husk in a bread recipe and added three tablespoons of water to the recipe (the other member uses about two tablespoons) and it turned out wonderful. Check it out here.
Note: If you are gluten-intolerant, remember to check with manufacturers on cross-contamination of gluten before purchasing.