Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

gum a word which originally referred only to sticky secretions of certain trees and shrubs which (unlike resin, another such secretion) are soluble in water. Nowadays, the meaning of the term includes some chemical products which have similar properties to those of the natural gums. These properties are of great use to the food-processing and catering industries. Commercially produced foods have to be protected, during the interval between production and consumption, from undesirable changes; emulsions must be kept from separating; dispersed particles must not settle to the bottom or top of a liquid; jellies must not dry up. Gums are used to stabilize the foods and prevent such changes.