What is Xanthan gum?

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The Struggle:

About 3 years ago we were at a trade show. At this particular trade show we were promoting our product known as Foam Magic. As I feverishly handed out fruity foam samples to the delighted masses, I was confronted by a person who had a personal vendetta towards Xanthan gum. For the next 2 minutes I was dressed down as If I was the Tsar of Xanthan Kingdom. Now; before I move on, this kind of interaction is unavoidable in life, and I have very thick skin. But one thing stuck with me as I had a finger pointed in my face. The person kept saying “Xanthan gum is made of mold grown on mushrooms”! I thought to myself “I don’t even know how Xanthan is made” amongst a few other choice phrases. So after this negative experience I took it upon myself to better myself in the case that someone who is misinformed wanted to take a stand against my homie, Xanthan gum. 

What is Xanthan Gum?” 

Fermented not Inoculated, duh

So I know what the burning question is, “is xanthan gum mold that is grown on mushrooms”? Very simply the answer is a resounding, no. Xanthan gum is not a mold nor is it grown on mushrooms. Infact Xanthan gum is a bacteria known as Xanthomonas campestris. This bacteria is commonly found on foods like broccoli. It plays a part in breaking down some vegetables. This bacteria was tested and found to have great thickening properties. So currently it is produced by applying it to sugar and allowing it to ferment. This process is similar to just about any fermented food that we use. The byproduct is then dried, ground, and sieved into a fine flavorless powder. The process is relatively simple which is nice and that removes some of the intimidation. Now people may have noticed we have xanthan gum and perfected xanthan gum. Xanthan gum can potentially clump since it is so hydrophilic (water loving). The main difference comes from the perfected xanthan gum being prehydrated. Prehydrated gums go through a process that makes the powder easier to mix into water and prevent clumping. This is my prefered type of xanthan gum to use as it nearly removes any issue regular xanthan gum has. 

But why use xanthan gum? Xanthan gum is so effective that the usage ratio is between 0.1 – 0.5% of the total weight of the liquid you are thickening. Xanthan gum is flavorless and doesn’t require heat. The only downside is that at too high of a ratio Xanthan gum can have a slick texture. But if you use it in the recommended ratios you shouldn’t have this issue. The next time I am accosted about the negatives of Xanthan gum I will be prepared to stand up for its honor. All joking aside I am happy this happened because it has helped me be more knowledgeable and I can help anyone who is looking for answer and stumbles upon this article. 

Looking for insiration? Check out our It Burns So Good Hot Wing Sauce recipe. Choose your own adventure with our spicy wing sauce by using as many chilis and you’d like. The addition of a bit of xanthan gum creates just the right texture with a bit of cling, so each wing is evenly coated for a jackpot in flavor explosion.

1 Comment.

  • So what is the difference between this and Guar Gum, is there? I make a lot of sauces (served cold) and currently use the GG. Is there an advantage of one over the other? – Sounds like another blog/article.

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