Plant Gums

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
There are a number of other plant carbohydrates that cooks and manufacturers have found useful for thickening and gelling liquid foods, helping to stabilize emulsions, and producing smoother consistencies in frozen goods and candies. Like the cell-wall cements, they’re generally complex polymers of several different sugars or related carbohydrates. They include:
  • Agarose, alginates, and carrageenans, cell-wall polymers from various seaweeds
  • Gum arabic, which exudes from cuts in various species of Acacia trees
  • Gum tragacanth, an exudate from various species of Astralagus shrubs
  • Guar gum, from seeds of a shrub in the bean family (Cyamopsis tetragonobola)
  • Locust-bean gum, from seeds of the carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua
  • Xanthan gum and gellan, polysaccharides produced by certain bacteria in industrial fermentation