Question and Answers – Zanthan Gum, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum
In my efforts to follow a gluten-free diet, I have come across an ingredient called zanthan gum. I found it is in many prepared foods as well. What is it and what does it contribute to a recipe? Thanks for your help. – Verna (8/30/02)
Zanthan Gum or Xanthan Gum is a powder milled from the dried cell coat of a micro-organism called Xanthonomonas campestris, grown under laboratory conditions. It replaces the gluten in yeast breads and other baking. It is available in health food stores and specialty grocery stores.
My name is Kathy and I have been visiting your cooking website. I found it when I searched Xanthan Gum! My question is:
How do you figure measurements to add Xanthan Gum to flours other than wheat, such as rice flour, to replace the gluten for a gluten free diet? I understand that this is a good substitution for the gluten in wheat flour, but cannot find any good information on how to make the substitutions. Can you help me? Thank you, I have enjoyed your website! – Kathy (2/24/04)
(1) Since no single wheat-free flour has all the attributes of regular wheat flour, the trick is to blend several wheat-free/gluten-free flours using final product texture as a guide.
Bette Hagman, a pioneer in gluten-free baking, provides a good basic flour blend in her cookbooks that can be used in equal (1:1) substitution for regular wheat flours. Her gluten-free flour blend suggests that:
For every cup of wheat-free/gluten-free flour, use 1 tsp. xanthan or guar gum for cakes, 2 tsp. xanthan or guar gum for breads or pizza, and 1 tsp. or no xanthan or guar gum or most cookies.
(2) Most gluten-free flours will require the addition of xanthan or guar, a substitute binder used to compensate for the lack of gluten. The amount needed to add will depend on the type of product and it’s reliance on the gluten structure. Breads rely heavily on gluten for their structure, cakes to a lesser extent, and cookies almost none. Typically the starchier and/or more refined the crumb, the less the reliance on gluten.
Xanthan gum tends to be almost three times as expensive, and in the US is grown off of corn syrup (but tests out corn-free in the lab after processing). Some gluten-free groups discourage the use of guar because of the higher fiber (and therefore possible laxative effect) of large amounts of guar gum use. Try both and see. If these gums are not appropriate for you, some suggest the use of mung bean (AKA green bean) flour (1/8 of cup to every cup flour) or pre-gelled potato flour.
Suggestions for the addition of xanthan or guar: For every cup of wheat-free/gluten-free flour use:
½ teaspoon Xanthan/guar gum for cakes
1 teaspoon Xanthan/guar gum for breads or pizza
½ teaspoon to no xanthan/guar gum for most cookies.
Comments from readers:
Thank you very much for the information on your website regarding this. It is very frustrating looking for information on this topic, and I have company coming for dinner, both of whom are celiacs. Now I can make a cake for them! – Melody (4/ 26/07)