Hydrocolloid: Gum Karaya - Cape Crystal Brands


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Gum Karaya: The Natural Exudate with Binding Abilities

Gum Karaya, a natural gum exuded from the Sterculia species trees, is known for its excellent binding and emulsifying properties. But what's the story behind this hydrocolloid, and how has it been utilized in various applications?

Historical Context

Gum Karaya has been harvested and used for centuries, especially in the Indian subcontinent. Its unique properties made it a sought-after commodity in both local and international markets.

The Molecular Science of Gum Karaya

Gum Karaya is a complex polysaccharide consisting of galactose, rhamnose, and galacturonic acid. Its ability to absorb water and form viscous solutions makes it a valuable thickening agent.

Production and Refinement

Gum Karaya is harvested by tapping the Sterculia trees. The gum exudes naturally and is then collected, cleaned, and processed to remove impurities. The refined gum is then dried and ground into a powder.

A Multifaceted Ingredient

Gum Karaya's diverse properties make it a staple in several sectors:

  • Food Industry: Used as a stabilizer, thickener, and emulsifier in products like dressings, sauces, and baked goods.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Employed as a binder in tablet formulations and as a bulk-forming laxative.
  • Dentistry: Used in dental adhesives for dentures.

Gum Karaya in Culinary Creations - Proportions

Given its thickening and stabilizing properties, Gum Karaya's usage is specific:

  • Baked Goods:
    • Proportion: 0.1% to 0.5% of the total weight.
    • Purpose: Improves texture and moisture retention.
  • Dressings and Sauces:
    • Proportion: 0.2% to 0.8% of the total weight.
    • Purpose: Provides stability and a creamy consistency.


Gum Karaya, with its natural origins and multifunctional attributes, has established itself as a reliable hydrocolloid in various industries. Its ability to bind, stabilize, and emulsify makes it an indispensable ingredient in diverse formulations.

See: Hydrocolloid Glossary

For further reading: Fenugreek Gum


  • Anderson, D.M.W., & Weiping, W. "The composition and properties of commercial karaya gum." Food Additives & Contaminants, 1992.
  • Imeson, A. "Food Stabilisers, Thickeners and Gelling Agents." Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

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