Healthy Living A to Z: X is for Xanthan Gum

If you are a gluten free baker you are probably familiar with xanthan gum. Many believe this is a necessary ingredient in gluten free baking, but some people are sensitive to it and others prefer to avoid it for other reasons.

Xanthan gum is made by mixing fermented sugars with the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium. It has medical uses for lowering blood sugar and total cholesterol in people with diabetes, as a laxative and sometimes as a saliva substitute for people with dry mouth. Xanthan gum is also used to thicken and stabilize foods, toothpaste and medications. [Source: http://www.webmd.com]

I don’t use it in my gluten free baking. I have learned to use the properties of various gluten free flours to increase stability and produce a nice texture. Some flours such as brown rice and buckwheat work fine on their own. Blends with at least some starch in them (corn, tapioca, potato, arrowroot, etc.) also seem to do well. Adding flax seed meal to the flour may also help. By not using xanthan gum in gluten free recipes you will not necessarily avoid it entirely as zanthan gum is used in commercial products, including salad dressing and medications as well as some gluten free flour blends

To use xanthan gum or not is your choice. Do your research and be aware there are other options.

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