Xanthan gum is a popular food additive that's commonly added to foods as a thickener or stabilizer. Xanthan Gum is a type of sugar (a Polysaccharide) produced by the fermentation of corn using a growing medium to yield the gum, purified, dried, and ground to a fine powder.
When xanthan gum powder is added to a liquid, it quickly disperses and creates a viscous and stable solution. This makes it an excellent thickening, suspending and stabilizing agent for many products. In fact, when the powder is added to the liquid to form a gum solution, it displays pseudo-plasticity (shear thinning) properties; this means the viscosity of the solution is reduced when shear forces are applied (i.e. stirring, mixing or shaking), then increases again once the shear forces are removed.
For example, Xanthan Gum is used in salad dressings to increase the viscosity when the bottle is stationary (preventing the herbs, oil and water from mixing); then, when the bottle is shaken or mixed, the viscosity is reduced, making it easy to pour on to your salad.
Xanthan gum can improve the texture, consistency, flavour, shelf life and appearance of many foods.
It also stabilizes foods, helping certain foods withstand different temperatures and pH levels. Additionally, it prevents foods from separating and allows them to flow smoothly out of their containers. It's used frequently in gluten-free cooking since it can provide the elasticity and fluffiness that gluten gives traditional baked goods.
Xanthan gum is also found in many personal care and beauty products. It allows these products to be thick, but still, flow easily out of their containers.
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