Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Xanthan Gum Revealed

For years I have done all my gluten free baking with xanthan gum. It was expensive but I didn't need much for each recipe and the results were good.

However, my husband and two of the children were always having intestinal problems. It was not the same as if they had eaten gluten or milk, but it was still troublesome and annoying.

By *chance* one day when I was posting a recipe, I googled "xanthan" to make sure I was spelling it right and I came up with all sorts of information on xanthan gum that I never knew before. Lights started going on as I read and I began to wonder if xanthan was actually causing a reaction in some of my family.

I had been thinking that xanthan was a natural product - NOT SO! In fact, I learned that reactions are common and that the bacteria that produces the gum is grown on high fructose corn syrup (YUK!).

After sharing the information with my husband, he said he wanted me to eliminate xanthan gum from our use. I agreed, but inwardly I panicked! I have already eliminated all dairy, gluten, nuts and soy from my kitchen and xanthan is what holds all my baking together!

Well, the first step was to buy some guar gum. This stuff is a natural product - ground from the seed of a plant native to northern India and Pakistan. It can cause intestinal problems in large amounts (like when it was used in diet pills in large amounts to create a feeling of fullness in the stomach - it was banned as a diet pill after it was proven to cause intestinal blockages or damage when used in large amounts). In baking, I substitute it for xanthan gum in the recipe, using slightly more that the xanthan called for. The texture of the dough or batter is slightly different and I have trouble making a nice loaf of bread. :( But I am working on it and experimenting with different recipes. So far, I have gotten bread that holds together and is moist, but does not rise as nice or large as with xanthan gum.
I have included links to a few articles that you may find interesting on xanthan gum. Then you can choose if it is something you want to include in your baking or want or if you want to use guar gum.


momto9 said...

Yes I've personally wondered about xanthan gum too...but I'm not allergic to corn so I decided to just let it be because I use it in such small amounts anyways. I don't even eat bread every day!!! But I can totally see that if I had a husband who NEEDED his bread...I'd probably have to make the switch I understand.
Well I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Susannah said...

Very interesting! I have gone dairy, gluten, chocolate, peanut and tomatoe free and am still having problems. I should try that.


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