Main Difference – Guar Gum vs Xanthan Gum
Both guar gum and xanthan gum are ingredients commonly used in gluten free recipes, and both serve the same common purpose as thickeners and emulsifiers in these recipes. However, there seem to be a lot of confusion over the difference between guar gum and xanthan gum, mainly among gluten-free product consumers. But, guar gum and xanthan gum are two different food ingredients used for the same culinary purpose. Guar gum is produced from a seed native to tropical Asia, whereas xanthan gum is produced by a microorganism known as Xanthomonas Camestris. This is the key difference between guar gum and xanthan gum. In this article, let’s discuss the difference between guar gum and xanthan gum in terms of their physical, chemical characteristics and intended uses.
What is Guar Gum
Guar gum is a plant-based food ingredient, and it is also known as guaran or galactomannan. It is primarily obtained from the ground endosperm of guar beans. In order to produce guar gum, the guar seeds are de-husked, pulverized and separated. Generally, guar gum is a free-flowing, off-white powder. Biochemically, guar gum is a carbohydrate polysaccharide collected from the sugars galactose and mannose. Guar gum is used as a stabilizer, emulsifier and thickening agent. This is mainly produced in countries like India, Pakistan, U.S., Australia and Africa.
What is Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum a food ingredient and biochemically it is a polysaccharide. It was first discovered by Allene Rosalind Jeanes. It is secreted by the microorganisms known as Xanthomonas campestris as a result of fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose. It is used as a rheology modifier, thickening agent, and a stabilizer. It is composed of glucose, mannose, and glucuronic acid.
Difference Between Guar Gum and Xanthan Gum
The differences between guar gum and xanthan gum can be divided into following categories. They are;
E-number (EU food additive code)
Guar gum: E-number of guar gum is E412.
Xanthan gum: E-number of xanthan gum is E 415.
Guar Gum: Biochemically, guar gum is a polysaccharide, and it contains galactose and mannose sugars.
Xanthan Gum: Chemical formula of guar gum monomer is C35H49O29. It is a polysaccharide that comprises of pentasaccharide repeat units, including glucose, mannose, and glucuronic acid in the molar ratio 2:2:1.
Guar Gum: Guar Gum is derived from the endosperm of guar beans.
Xanthan Gum: Xanthan Gum is derived from bacterium Xanthomonas campestris.
Guar Gum: It is mainly derived from the ground endosperm of guar beans/seeds. First, the guar seeds are de-husked, milled and screened to gain the guar gum. It is an off-white powder.
Xanthan Gum: Xanthan Gum is manufactured by the fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose. After fermentation, the polysaccharide is precipitated from a growth medium with isopropyl alcohol, followed by drying and grounding into a fine powder. Then it is incorporated into a liquid medium to form the gum.
Uses in Food Industry and Other
Guar Gum: Guar gum is mainly used in the following applications;
- Used gums in gluten-free recipes and gluten-free products
- Used for thickening cold foods such as ice cream or pastry fillings
- Used for making thick pastes and for retaining water bound in a sauce or emulsion
- Used to make hot gels, light foams and as an emulsion stabilizer
- Used in baked goods to increases dough yield, gives greater resiliency, and improves texture and shelf life
- Used in dairy products to thicken milk, yogurt, kefir, and liquid cheese products, and helps maintain homogeneity and texture of ice creams and sherbets
Textile, Other Industries
Paper industry to enhance sheet formation, folding and denser surface for printing
Explosives industry as waterproofing agent
Pharmaceutical industry as binder or as disintegrator in tablets
Cosmetics and toiletries industries as a thickener in toothpaste or conditioner in shampoos
Xanthan Gum: Xanthan gum is used in following applications:
- Used as a food additive and rheology modifier
- Used as a food thickening agent in salad dressings
- Used as a stabilizer in cosmetic products to prevent ingredients from separating
- Used in frozen foods and beverages
- Used to thicken commercial egg substitutes made from egg whites
- Used in gluten-free baking
- Used in oil-in-water emulsions to help stabilize the oil droplets against coalescence
Guar Gum: It can cause allergic in few individuals and experience reactions such as flushing, itchiness, and diarrhea.
Xanthan Gum: Xanthan gum may be derived from corn, wheat, dairy, or soy source products that are common allergens.
In conclusion, guar gum and xanthan gum are the most frequently used gums in gluten-free recipes and gluten-free products. They are derived from different sources and used for more or less similar applications.
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“Guaran” By Yikrazuul – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
“Xanthan” By NEUROtiker – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia