What Is Tara Gum and How Does It Work?
Tara gum is a natural organic ingredient produced from the milled seeds of the Caesalinia spinosa tree. Tara gum has a soft, smooth texture that is similar in composition to both locust bean and guar gum. But compared to other thickeners and stabilizers, it is distinguished by its ability to dissolve both in hot water and cold water. It gives the foods the ability to conserve its texture without affecting its flavor. It is also odorless, and tasteless which are valuable characteristics, making it highly useful in a variety of foods and beverages.
Above: Tara pods ripenening on a Tara tree and an example of Tara gum powder.
Where Does it Come From?
The Tara tree is a small thorny shrub that grows in tropical and subtropical climates. Also known as Peruvian carob, this perennial plant has a lifespan of 60 to 100 years. It is commonly found growing naturally along the river shorelines of the Peruvian coast, though it can be found throughout South America. Tara gum has been used in foods since its discovery in the mid-1700s by scientist Carolus Linnaeus.
While Tara gum is used worldwide as a popular thickener in the food industry uses, Tara nuts and pods have been used since ancient times as a source of medicinal benefits that only recently have caught scientific attention. Tara or nickernut's most important phytochemical compounds are tannins (41-45%), galactomannans, and glucosinolates.
Tannins are a type of water-soluble polyphenols with great antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds are abundant in plants but are particularly high in Tara pods and seeds. Galactomannans are plant polysaccharides that seem to show immunomodulatory effects by stimulating the activity of human monocyte-derived dendritic cells. Glucosinolates are biologically active compounds with powerful antimicrobial activity that have shown effective against many bacterial strains.
Tara gum provides a large amount of protein and dietary fiber. It also contains a good number of beneficial polyphenols that provide antioxidant properties. In addition, Tara powder provides 16 amino acids which are the building blocks of protein that allow muscle growth and many other vital functions within the human body.
Above: Harvest the ripened Tar pods by hand.
How is Tara Gum Used in the Food Industry?
Tara gum functions as a stabilizer, thickening agent, and emulsifier in processed foods as well as a wide range of nonfat and low-fat food applications. It is a valuable thickener and stabilizer in dairy products such as cheese, cream, yogurt, tortillas, canned vegetables and legumes and other foods. More commonly it is found in ice cream, frozen products, bakery, jellies, meats, and sauce and dressing.
More particularly, it has gained popular use in the production of ice cream as it controls ice crystal growth and meltdown. In addition, it adds a good mouthfeel. It doesn’t just enhance the quality of ice cream, it provides bakery products a softer consistency, increases moisture retention and prolongs shelf life. In beverages, Tara gum adds viscosity and clarifies the liquid. In jams, jellies, and fillings, it reduces syneresis (gel separation), suspends fruits, and improves mouthfeel.
Tara gum is used to regularly to improve the following foods and drinks:
|dehydrated foods||ice cream||mousses|
|salad dressing||cocoa-based drinks||yogurt|
|mustard pickles||bread||fruit juices|
Tara Gums Use the Kitchen
Tara gum outperforms current natural thickeners on the market in terms of thickening and texture. It immediately and rapidly hydrates in water. The powder can be added to the oily or aqueous phase, in either hot or cold conditions, while stirring rapidly until it is completely dispersed.
Tara gum can be used in place of guar gum. It is smooth and more natural whereas guar gum’s flow characteristic is more plastic-like. Guar gum tends to lead to stringy drips and doesn’t flow smoothly. The structure of Tara gum is smooth and soft whereas, Guar gum can have a slimy texture in some applications.
Using Tara gum in combination with Xanthan gum or carrageenan can form a very soft gel structure. Tara gum is odorless and tasteless while guar gum has an unpleasant odor and taste. The flavor release of Tara gum is better than guar gum.
How Much to Use
Using Tara gum is like using guar gum. Add it cold to liquids or dry ingredients. Once used, most prefer it to guar gum.
The amount to be used depends on the thickness you want to obtain. The recommended amount ranges between one half to two percent.
- Ice cream, yogurt, beverages, milk, and sorbets - 0.05% to 0.15%
- Sauces and soups - 0.1% to 0.5%
- Desserts, puddings, marmalades, and creams - 0.05% to 0.2%
- Bakery products - 0.3% to 0.5%
Tara Gum Purity
Food grade Tara gum provides food manufacturers with many advantages in many different applications. Tara gum is natural and organic. It is generally recognized as halal. It has met all the “kashruth” requirements and can be certified as kosher. it is gluten free according to the FDA’s definition as Tara gum does not contain wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains. Tara gum is vegan, too. Tara gum is a vegetable gum which is sourced from the Tara tree seeds and the manufactured without the use of animal matter or products derived from animal origin.
Tara gum is used as a thickening and stabilizer ingredient in many food applications. Tara gum is less viscous than a guar gum of the same concentration, but more viscous than a solution of locust bean gum. It tends to resist resists the break down into monomers or other smaller units down to a pH of 3.5. Blends of Tara gum with modified and unmodified starches can be produced which have enhanced stabilization and emulsification properties, and these are used in the preparation of convenience foods, such as ice cream.
Tara gum can be easily found online for purchase in your own kitchen.
With kind regards,
- Chef Edmund