RoodonFood Note: What’s That In My Food is a new series where I’ll be exploring some of the stranger sounding ingredients in common foods and recipes.
If you’ve ever bought salad dressing or baked anything gluten free, odds are you’ve come across “xanthan gum.” Generally used as a thickener and/or emulsifier, only small amounts are needed to keep liquids from separating. It’s inexpensive and very neutral in taste.
While the name sounds like it could be a planet in a pulp sci-fi novel, it’s origins are a bit more grounded. The name actually comes from the bacteria Xanthomas Campestris. To create this ubiquitous substance, glucose, sucrose or lactose are fermented. From here is it “precipitated” meaning turned into a to a solid via chemical reaction with isopropyl alcohol. Finally, it’s dried and ground. Once added to liquid it turns to gum.
Have you tried xanthan gum before? In what type of recipe?