Xanthum Gum

Now that the gluten free challenge is all but over I wanted to ask some of our gf experts about xanthum gum. Is it absolutely necessary in gluten free baking? Every recipe I read included it and I noticed that so many here did not have it. I know it helps bind but isn't that what eggs do? So my question is, is xanthum gum necessary to produce a gluten free recipe?



skittle June 24, 2011
I've seen many people use xanthan gum in smoothies (like a frozen fruit smoothie) as a thickener but due to the cost-I've not purchased any. It'd be nice if it was sold in bulk so you could purchase just a bit to try!

So I take it then that guar gum may do the same thing in a smoothie then?
sdebrango June 23, 2011
Thanks wssmom, I think that if I ever do any gluten free baking again I will probably opt for guar gum if I need anything. I have never done anything gluten free ever so I view this as a learning experience, I would like to experiment and make my recipe without the x-gum and see how it turns out, if there is an appreciable difference.
wssmom June 23, 2011
I find xanthan gum or guar gum useful in gluten-free recipes such as breads or cakes; pie crusts and cookies, not so much.
sdebrango June 23, 2011
Not reallly knowing what to expect when baking gluten free I imagined my batter baking into a slumpy mess rather than holding together. I have learned a lot about GF
baking from the challenge.
sdebrango June 23, 2011
Yes I have seen both xanthum and guar gum listed as ingredients in many different products and I generally stayed away from them, Good to know guar gum isn't so bad. Thanks so much to everyone for your input, I think I'll file the xanthum gum in the circular file.
Panfusine June 23, 2011
Guar gum, I can live with, its derived from the guar bean (cluster beans) which has this licorice like sweetness to it (you'll find it in Indian stores under the name guvaar phali lor something.. look for a bright green reedy vegetable!)
susan G. June 23, 2011
If you read labels of processed foods, you may find xanthan gum listed. I think it is used as a thickener/emulsifier, in something like salad dressing. Experienced FPers, is that so? Can a smidge be added to a dressing to give it that Kraft sheen?
Anyway, I use guar gum when x... is called for, supposedly to avoid the dread crumbling. There are people who are irritated by it, but it costs a lot less.
beyondcelery June 23, 2011
Ya, it's really common in recipes, but it's becoming less so. Seriously, I like my goods better without it. It gives them that talked-about "gluten-free" texture, even if it doesn't affect the flavor. And Panfusine's right: it's kind of weird nasty stuff. I haven't used mine in at least 6 months; and that time only because a customer requested it.
sdebrango June 23, 2011
Oh my that sounds less than appetizing panfusine thanks for the wikipedia link.
sdebrango June 23, 2011
Thank you syronai, I'm getting the picture now. As I was researching gf recipes every single one whether it was cake, cookies or breads had the stuff. As Mrslarkin said we need to find some way to repurpose the xanthum gum we bought. Good to know thanks.
Panfusine June 23, 2011
after reading about it, I'm even less inclined to incorporate it in home baked stuff...derived from the coat of a plant disease causing bacteria...
beyondcelery June 23, 2011
@mrslarkin: use your xanthan gum in place of pectin when making homemade jam. It helps it set up perfectly. I find when I use it this way my jam tends to be slightly more elastic than with pectin, but only I ever seemed to tell the difference.

Beyond that, store it in the freezer for a nice long shelf life (until you find someone to give it to!).
beyondcelery June 23, 2011
It's absolutely NOT essential. I've baked awesome gluten-free treats for 8 years without xanthan or guar gum being necessary. They're basically tools to mimic the gluten in bread, which gives it that elastic sort of quality. So all you really need is a different "sticky" ingredient to pull it all together (hence the sweet rice flour, or other options below). Yes, gluten-free baking can be easier for beginners if you use the gums. But you really don't need them. A slurry of ground chia seeds and flax seeds can replace any need for the gums as well, giving the added benefit of making your bread healthier and more multi-grain. Glutenfree Girl explains it best:
sdebrango June 23, 2011
You and me both, think we could sell on ebay? I honestly don't know enough about gf baking and everywhere I read called for it, those recipes must have been written by the company that makes the stuff
mrslarkin June 23, 2011
good question, sdebrango! And I am kicking myself for buying a ten dollar box of the stuff. Anyone need xanthan gum??

I'd like to add an additional question to this query: are there any other uses for xanthan gum?
sdebrango June 23, 2011
I should rephrase, its obviously not necessary otherwise we wouldn't have so many beautiful recipes. Why do the recipes I saw almost all include it?
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