Gum Tragacanth

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

gum tragacanth a secretion from the tree Astragalus gummifer, which grows in parts of Turkey and the Middle East. For more general information, see gum.

Gum tragacanth is still used by craft confectioners for making sugar paste. The gum, which is very expensive, must be soaked before it is added to the sugar mixture. It absorbs 15–20 times its own weight in water, and makes the paste malleable, subsequently drying to a porcelain-like hardness. As with gum arabic, gum tragacanth has long been used in pharmaceutical applications; its use in confectionery dates back to at least the 17th century, when it was sometimes called gum dragon.