Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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alginates a general name for various gums extracted from seaweeds in the category of brown algae. These include Californian kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera; several wracks of the genus Ascophyllum; and oarweeds of the genus Laminaria, which grow around the coast of Britain. The USA and Britain are the chief producers.

Alginates have become increasingly important recently, in line with the growth of the processed food industry, and are now among the most widely used gums. They have excellent thickening, suspending, emulsifying, stabilizing, gel- and film-forming properties, and can be dispersed in both hot and cold water. They are used in ice cream, where they prevent ice crystals from forming, and in other desserts and syrups, bottled salad dressings, and many dairy products including processed cheese; but they are not used in domestic cookery.