If you've ever ventured into the health section of a superstore, you might've noticed some strange powders stocked on the shelves.
You’ll be surprised to know that one of them would definitely be Guar Gum.
Fun fact, although the name says gum, it’s anything but that.
Guar Gum looks like a regular powder that you’d add to recipes and is often one of the ingredients in gluten-free foods.
Unfortunately, the existence of the gum powder in gluten-free recipes is all that people know about this somewhat magical powder.
So, if you love cooking new things, have a gluten allergy, or are simply looking to expand your knowledge about the GG, you’d definitely have a lot of questions.
This blog answers all (or most) of them. What is it? How is it made? Is it safe? How do you use it in recipes? Is it only for gluten-free cooking? These and several other questions will be addressed and after reading, you’d probably know more about Guar Gum powder than the salesperson in the aisle promoting its properties.
Ready? Let’s dive right into it!
Guar Gum: The Introduction
1. What Is Guar Gum?
Pretty straightforward, and definitely the first question that comes to mind. GM, also called Guaran by many, is a thickening agent which forms into a gel when it’s added to liquids, helping them bind together. It’s low in calories, high in soluble fiber, and also known to have higher thickening powers than cornstarch (really!). It becomes a gluten substitute in gluten-free cooking and baking, replacing regular flour.
2. How Is It Made?
This might get a little technical, so bear with us.
GM powder comes from the cluster bean plant (guar) that’s mostly found in India. The seeds of the tree are called guar beans and they are dehusked mechanically i.e., basically split into parts. The shells (or unhusked guar split) are hydrated, milled, and refined to form a powder that is the gum itself. While the remaining part eventually becomes a part of animal feed, ensuring minimal wastage (unrelated but interesting fact).
3. What Is The Purpose of Guar Gum?
Guar Gum is a stabilizer and thickener. It has incredibly high water-absorbing abilities, and so it can immediately thicken whatever it’s added to. Even water. This makes it a fabulous ingredient for several uses.
Different sorts of GM are used in producing medicines, papers, textiles, cosmetics, food of course, and even explosives. Imagine how versatile this seemingly simple powder is.
But today's focus is only going to be on how you can add the magic of Guar Gum to your recipes. Let’s get into it.
4. Guar Gum vs Tara Gum
Tara gum is part of the same chemical family as guar gum. Both of them have a similar molecular structure known as galactomannans. Tara has similar cold water solubility to guar gum. Tara gum has very similar thickening characteristics to guar gum but has some advantages. You can read about them in these two recent articles we have posted on our blog. Tara Gum: A Natural Thickening Agent with Versatile Applications, and Adding Tara Gum for a Smoother Ice Cream.
Uses of Guar Gum In Food
Your Ultimate Gluten-Free Baking Companion
When considering vegan or gluten-free baking, Guar Gum is definitely going to pop up in the recipe. That's because usually, gluten in the flour is taken as a binding agent when you're baking, for instance, a loaf of bread or pizza. The texture and elasticity are courtesy of the presence of gluten.
But, when you’re going gluten-free, Guar Gum gives you the same benefits that let the baked goods taste just as good, if not better. Helping in the thickening process, the addition of Guar Gum improves softness and makes the baked item fluffier, giving them the feel and texture you so desire.
Usually, the quantity of Guar Gum depends on your choice of dish, but bread recipes mainly require about one teaspoon of gum per cup of gluten-free flour. While goodies like muffins, biscuits, and even cake need about half a teaspoon/cup.
The Mighty Sauce Thickener
If you’re used to adding storebought sauces to your recipes and are thinking why do I need to make sauces myself now, we’ve got a reason. Or many, actually.
One, storebought sauces aren’t necessarily gluten-free. So if you’re staying away from gluten because of an allergy or another reason, making sauces yourself is your best bet for a yum (and safe) recipe. Two, storebought sauces are made with different forms of flour and starches. So, let’s say, the one you want is made with cornstarch. Unfortunately, if you're on a nutritional diet or are even pursuing keto, cornstarch is primarily discouraged because of the number of net carbs it brings to your plate – literally. Three, some starches like arrowroot don’t work well as a thickening agent in all forms of foods. Add it to something too hot or cold, and they downright stop working or just get too slow.
On the other hand, Guar Gum is nothing of the sort. Unaffected by heat, flavorless, and gluten-free, it works fab as a thickening agent in all forms. Here are examples:
- Makes Yoghurt
- Improves the thickness of Ketchup.
- Adds thickness to Smoothies and Frappes.
- Used to enhance the consistency of Salad Dressings.
A Personal Ice Cream Maker
If you’ve tried making ice cream at home, had a bowl full of that, and then ventured to your nearest ice cream parlor to have a scoop of your favorite ice cream, you’ll notice a difference.
It's just creamier, thicker, fluffier, and all over better – isn't it?
And no, this one’s not your fault. It’s because the soft serves we so love to purchase usually come bound with a thickening agent. Now, with Guar Gum, you can add the same consistency to homemade ice cream – Yass! I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
Here’s what happens. Basically, Guar Gum stops frozen items from melting because melting is what happens upon heat contact post-crystal formation. When you add Guar Gum to your ice creams, its emulsifying properties mean ice crystals don’t get formed, and your frozen item doesn’t turn into a block of ice. Get the feeling of a soft serve as the ice cream or popsicle gents melts without going all runny or watery. Think smooth, think buttery soft, think Guar Gum!
And ice cream isn’t the only cold goodie you can make using Guar Gum. Jams are another possibility. Add it to your fresh fruits and turn them into jam without fearing crystallizations or weird consistencies and get a jello-like jam that spreads easily on toast.
This is something everybody’s not really going to tell you about Guar Gum, but you eventually find out after testing and trying it in several recipes. It works great in improving the shelf life of food items, and we don’t just mean baked goods but also meats, cheeses, and beverages. Imagine that!
Let’s see how. In meat products, Guar Gum helps with viscosity control. It keeps the fat from separating and absorbs the excess water and liquids, making the meat prep process easier and helping in preservation. Stuffed meats like sausages especially gain from this.
Let’s move on to cheese. Guar Gum prevents the cheese from becoming soggy or weeping. So, it’ll essentially last longer, and you can use it with longer intervals. After all, it's not every day that you end up making a cheese snack on a gluten-free/vegan diet.
Next up, canned stuff. From gravies and instant mix products to condiments and even beverages, Guar Gum improves thickening and locks in moisture for easier storage and longer shelf life of packaged mixes.
Your Fry/No Fry Partner
Whether you’re on a vegan diet, doing keto, or just staying away from all the unhealthy fats, Guar Gum is a great addition to your recipes.
That’s because it works really differently. Let’s say you’re fond of fried food. Adding Guar Gum reduces the quantity of oil absorbed by your food when it’s cooking. So, you end up getting low-calorie foods, without a chuck full of oils – and fats!
Sounds exciting? We were tempted too. A way to enjoy your favorite meals without having to worry about weight gain? Yes, please!
Is Guar Gum Bad For You?
Yes, it's got several uses so of course, that ticks the boxes for the specialties of Guar Gum. But this thickening agent has many other benefits to offer, including:
Amps Up The Good Bacteria
Without getting all technical, here’s a rundown of this benefit: You’ve got good bacteria and bad bacteria. We ought to nurture the good bacteria i.e., probiotics, and that happens by feeding them well through prebiotics. Guar Gum is one example of such a prebiotic.
Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Due to its gel-forming abilities, Guar Gum is known to reduce cholesterol and glucose levels in the body. This has a mighty takeaway. In the long run, usage of Guar Gum might prevent cardiac diseases or even help against diabetes.
While Guar Gum is gluten-free, low in carbs, and mostly used in low-calorie diets, that isn’t just why it prevents obesity. There’s another special reason. Basically, we continue to eat until we feel we are full. Right? Guar Gum helps the feeling of fullness strike sooner, to prevent excessive eating and, therefore, weight gain.
Moreover, Guar Gum comes with extra doses of fiber, great thickener abilities, and of course, being gluten-free is a major plus. People who have gluten intolerance will tell you their level of happiness when their favorite food item stops becoming off-limits because it comes with gluten replacement.
This might beg the next question, or maybe you’ve been thinking it all along – Are there no other alternatives to Guar Gum?
Is Guar Gum Powder The Only Way To Go?
Guar Gum isn't the be-all and end-all. If you’ve run out, can’t find it in stores, or just want another option because maybe it doesn’t sit well with you, here’s what you can use instead:
This is as popular as Guar Gum and used in most of its recipes too. It’s a fab thickening agent that adds richness and better consistency to gluten-free goods, whether it’s frozen food, baked items, or otherwise. What is the difference between this and Guar Gum then, you’d wonder. It’s how Xanthan Gum is made.
Formed in the process of sugar fermentation, Xanthan Gum is usually more concentrated than Guar Gum too. So, you should reduce its quantity in your foods during prep as compared to Guar Gum.
We've talked about this before. Arrowroot starch is a great thickening agent when it comes to warm items. So, think soups, gravies, custards, and sauces…
But it’s not as concentrated as Guar Gum and a little difficult to work with when it comes to extreme temperatures. Be cautious when you are adding it to hot liquids, or make a little mixture before pouring in to avoid any lumps.
Whether you are fond of cooking or have just been introduced to it, you’d definitely know about Gelatin. It’s an awesome thickening agent that adds texture to a lot of food items, mostly desserts like puddings and jellies or even baked, gluten-free doughs.
But, if you’re vegan, its a No. Gelatin is an animal-derived product, usually beef or pork.
Like Gelatin but vegan, Agar Agar is a great addition to your house pantry if you need a kick-ass thickening agent. It comes in a dry, powder form and is produced from seaweed.
Sounds good? The only issue: it can’t exactly be used directly. So like arrowroot starch, you will have to dissolve it in hot water initially if you wish to use it to thicken liquids.
So, while there are many alternatives in the market that might act like Guar Gum, eventually GG comes on top when the matter concerns vegan, gluten-free food.
Here are some of the key health benefits associated with guar gum:
Digestive Health: Guar gum is a soluble fiber that can aid in promoting healthy digestion. It adds bulk to the stool and helps regulate bowel movements, which can be beneficial for individuals dealing with constipation.
Blood Sugar Management: Studies have shown that guar gum can help slow down the absorption of glucose in the intestines, leading to better blood sugar control, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. It may also improve insulin sensitivity.
Weight Management: As a soluble fiber, guar gum contributes to a feeling of fullness and satiety, potentially reducing overall calorie intake. Including guar gum in meals can assist in weight management efforts.
Cholesterol Reduction: Some research suggests that guar gum can have a positive impact on blood cholesterol levels by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Regular consumption may contribute to better heart health.
Low Calorie: Guar gum is low in calories, which can be advantageous for those looking to maintain or reduce their calorie intake while still enjoying the benefits of a thickening agent in their recipes.
Gluten-Free Baking: Guar gum is commonly used in gluten-free baking as a binder and stabilizer, providing a similar texture to gluten-containing products.
Natural Prebiotic: Guar gum acts as a prebiotic, serving as food for beneficial gut bacteria. It helps support a healthy gut microbiome, which has a positive impact on overall digestive and immune health.
Stabilizer for Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts: Guar gum is widely used in the food industry as a stabilizer in ice cream and frozen desserts, preventing ice crystal formation and improving texture.
Reduction of Hunger Hormone: Studies have indicated that guar gum may reduce the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, potentially helping individuals manage their appetite.
Dental Health: Similar to agar agar, guar gum does not promote tooth decay and is sometimes used in oral care products due to its ability to inhibit bacterial growth in the mouth.
As with any dietary supplement or additive, it's essential to consume guar gum in moderate amounts and as part of a balanced diet. Individuals with certain health conditions, such as intestinal obstructions or allergies to legumes, should consult a healthcare professional before incorporating guar gum into their diet.
Things To Keep In Mind About Guar Gum
A few pointers before we dive into yum recipes that include Guar Gum:
It thickens quickly.
Guar Gum bsorbs water really quickly and fast. Even if you added it to cold water. So, be vigilant when using it as a thickening agent because too much Guar Gum can result in lumpy, thick baked goods that are incredibly high in fiber.
Has a High fiber content.
This is another aspect to be mindful of. The high fiber content means too much Guar Gum in any item can upset the digestive systems of sensitive stomachs or cause bloating.
But this is nothing that a little mindful measurement and cooking can’t solve.
Guar Gum Recipes You Absolutely Need To Know!
Now that you know all about Guar Gum, are you ready to make your next delicacy?
Recipe 1: Chocolate Chip Cookies
There’s just something about chocolate chip cookies that make them irresistible. You just can't say no. For some, it's a reminder of their childhood, and for others, a way to embrace the sweetness of life. For us, it's both – and it's gluten-free! Let's dig in.
- Half cup of unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- 25 cups of rice flour
- 25 cups of sorghum flour
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 5 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of guar gum
- 75 cup sugar
- 5 cups brown sugar
- 4 tsp of vanilla extract (optional)
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl (or automatic mixer) and mix them well. This includes flour, baking powder, sugars, salt, and guar gum.
- Take another bowl and add the wet ingredients to it. Such as butter, eggs, and vanilla extract (if you wish to use it). Beat them well with a whip for about a minute until froth forms.
- Add the chocolate chips to the wet mixture and combine it well. Then, topple the wet mixture into the dry mixture and beat it well until it becomes thick and reaches the consistency of a dough.
- Cover the mixture and keep it to cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. You can also let it sit for up to 2 days – your choice.
- Once cool and transformed into a dough, scoop small portions to form balls. These can be as big or as small as you want, depending upon the size of the cookie you desire.
- Place parchment paper onto your baking tray. Flatten the balls slightly on it to form a cookie.
- Keep the tray in an oven preheated to 325 degrees and bake for 13-17 minutes. Continue checking to see the progress. If you want your cookies to be on the softer side, take them out in 13-15 minutes, or for crunchy goodness, let them bake for up to 17-19 minutes.
Recipe 2: Breakfast Bread
Weekend mornings become a little better and brighter when the table linen is topped with a cup of fresh tea and a loaf of bread. Here’s how you can make one for yourself and your family with gluten-free goodness:
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 cups gluten-free flour
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 2 tsp of salt
- 2 tsp of guar gum
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 75 cups of sparkling mineral water
- Add the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, salt, and guar gum – to a bowl and mix well.
- Take another bowl and add the egg yolks to it. Whisk well until the mixture becomes frothy. Add olive oil and mix again.
- Combine the dry and wet mixtures and slowly add mineral water while blending the mixture.
- Continue to mix until it forms a lump-free blend. For this, you may use an electric mixer or whisk by hand continuously.
- Once the consistency is thicker, cover the bowl and keep it in a warm location for about 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Take a loaf pan and grease it with butter. Pour the batter into the pan and smoothen the top with a spatula. Place it in the warm location again, now with an uncovered top, to rise.
- When the dough has risen and is about 1-inch away from reaching the rim of the pan, place it in the oven to bake for 50 minutes.
- Continue checking and once the loaf has risen and looks ready, remove it from the oven, take it out from the loaf pan, and place it on a rack to cool. Then, slice it into 10 pieces to enjoy with tea or as it is!
With Guar Gum in your kitchen pantry, creating gluten-free delicacies is no longer a hassle.
Whether you are a food lover, up-and-coming chef, or just someone who dabbles with ingredients, a thickening agent like Guar Gum, with its several benefits, will have you making yummy desserts and dishes like never before.
Guar gum is a safe food additive commonly used in small amounts as a gum powder in processed foods. It acts as a thickener and stabilizer, enhancing the texture and quality of various products. While it has been linked to potential benefits in weight loss due to its ability to create a feeling of fullness, its effects on weight management are not well-established. Guar gum is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by regulatory authorities when consumed in moderate quantities. However, some individuals may experience digestive discomfort if consumed in large amounts or have sensitivity to guar gum. As with any dietary additive, it is essential to consume guar gum in appropriate quantities and be mindful of individual reactions.
So, what are you waiting for?