If you're new to gluten free cooking, then you've probably noticed the ingredient "guar gum" floating around in some of your pinned recipes. Widely available and easy to use guar gum is a staple in many gluten free households. Why? In most baked treats, gluten acts as a binding agent to keep all of the ingredients together. This means that if you're baking a gluten free treat, you'll no longer have the gluten to bind the ingredients to one another. Enter, guar gum. Guar gum is a natural ingredient that works similarly to gluten, to secure, emulsify and thicken gluten free ingredients. If you bake gluten free goods without guar gum or a similar substitute, the result will likely be quite crummy. Literally!
We've learned that information on guar gum can be hard to find. Often, it's listed as an ingredient in a recipe without the recipe ever explaining why it's there. This lack of information has caused a lot of questions about guar gum to rise in the gluten free community. Questions like: What is guar gum? What is it used for? Is it natural and safe to eat? Our team of guar gum experts has come together to answer all of these questions and more! Read on to discover the uses and benefits of guar gum. We'll talk about the very things that make guar gum the perfect gluten free ingredient to help you create the yummy treat you've been craving.
What Is Guar Gum
Before diving into guar gum benefits, let's first discuss what it is. Guar gum, also known as guaran, comes from the seed of the Indian tree. This gum is created by removing the husks from the guar seeds. The shells are then milled and sorted into the powder known as guar gum. Commonly used as an additive in baking, guar gum works to improve the texture and shelf life of baked goods. With eight times the thickening power of cornstarch, guar gum is an essential part of gluten free baking.
When using this powder, it's important to remember that a little goes a long way. Guar gum has extremely high water-absorbing abilities. This means that it can instantly increase thickness, even when added to cold water. However, adding too much guar gum to any recipe can result in bulky, stringy baked goods that are very high in fiber. While fiber is an essential part of a healthy digestive system, too much of it may cause an upset stomach in sensitive individuals.
How to Use Guar Gum
Now that you understand where guar gum comes from, the next step is learning how to use guar gum. Used to stabilize and thicken the texture of various foods, guar gum can be added to everything from coconut milk to brownies.
Gluten Free Baking
Guar gum and gluten free baking go hand in hand. Often, when switching to a gluten free lifestyle, creating your favorite baked treats is one of the biggest challenges you'll face. Because gluten plays such a crucial role in creating the right texture in baked goods, it can be hard to achieve the feel and structure of traditional bread and dessert recipes without it. That's where guar gum comes into play! If you're baking with flours that don't have gluten in them, adding guar gum to the recipe can help add some elasticity to your dough. The kind of flexibility that would usually be produced by gluten. Guar gum allows you to make a gluten free treat that has the same texture as a traditional one, hence why we love it so much. The recipe you choose to create will significantly affect how much guar gum needs to be used. Bread recipes typically call for more guar gum and can use up to a teaspoon of it per every cup of gluten free flour.
At first, thickening sauces may seem like an easy task. After all, flours and starches like cornstarch, arrowroot and tapioca can all be added to your favorite soup recipe. The problem? All of these flours and starches have different qualities, and knowing which one to use can be challenging. Plus, if you're following a low carb diet or keto diet, even a tablespoon of these starches can drastically affect the nutritional content of the dish. Guar gum is a great replacement thickener, and because it's flavorless it can be added to just about any recipe. In fact, guar gum has a significant advantage over other thickeners: it's not affected by heat! The molecules in starches like arrowroot powder and tapioca powder can be drastically affected by temperature. When added to a recipe that's too hot or cold, these thickeners are not able to do their job. Because guar gum doesn't need heat to work correctly, it can be added to hot and cold dishes, while still maintaining it's thickening properties. Add it to recipes like salad dressings or your favorite smoothie to perfect the consistency of the plate.
Improve the Consistency of Frozen Goods
Now that you know that guar gum doesn't need heat to do its job, you might be wondering if it works just as well in frozen recipes. It does! Guar gum is a great ingredient to have on hand if you're working within certain dietary restrictions. Gluten free, vegan and keto-friendly, guar gum can help you navigate through some of the most stringent dietary restrictions. Adding guar gum to frozen desserts like ice cream, popsicles and smoothies work to create a smoother and softer consistency. Doing so will help keep your frozen foods from turning into ice-like blocks. Guar gum can also be used when making jams. Just add a bit of guar gum to sweet berries or fresh fruit for the perfect refrigerator jam.
While guar gum has several benefits, primarily when used in gluten free cooking, it can come with some potential disadvantages. Again, due to its high fiber content, too much guar gum can cause digestive upset in sensitive individuals. Because of this, it's not recommended that for anyone to consume a lot of it. However, when used in moderation, it's a much more natural choice than other options.
Guar Gum Measurements
Now, it's time to put your guar gum knowledge to use and start cooking! As we mentioned before, it's important to remember that a little bit of guar gum goes a long way. While measurements will vary depending on which recipe you're making, it's essential not to overdo it when adding guar gum. It's recommended that no matter what you're cooking up, never use more than a tablespoon of guar gum in a recipe.
If you've decided to use guar gum in your gluten free baked goods, here are a few *helpful measurements to help you get started.
Using Guar Gum in Gluten Free Goods
Cookies……………………………...¼ to ½ teaspoon. per cup of flour
Cakes and Pancakes………………..¾ teaspoon per cup of flour
Muffins and Quick Bread………....1 teaspoon per cup of flour
Bread……………………………....1 ½ to 2 teaspoons per cup of flour
Pizza Dough…………………..…....1 Tablespoon per cup of flour
For Hot Foods (gravies, stews, heated pudding)…Use 1-3 teaspoons per one quart of liquid.
For Cold Foods (salad dressing, ice creams, pudding) Use 1-2 teaspoons per quart of liquid.
Guar Gum Compared to Xanthan Gum
Ever tried a baked good that used only xanthan gum? We have, and the result was completely different than that of guar gum. When it comes to choosing the right gum to use, it depends on your taste preferences. While xanthan gum is known to produce a treat with additional moisture, guar gum will likely create baked goods that dry out quicker. Because each of these gums functions in a different way, they inevitably produce different results.
One of the most significant differences between xanthan gum and guar gum is where they originate from. While guar gum is derived from a seed native to Asia, xanthan gum is produced by a microorganism called Xanthomonas Campestris. Along with their differences in nature, they also have several differences in the kitchen. While both can be used when creating gluten free foods, guar gum works better when added to recipes like smoothies, ice cream and pie fillings. Xanthan gum, on the other hand, can be used to produce delicious baked goods and yeast bread.
Ready to head to the kitchen and start using guar gum powder in your favorite treats? We hope so! While guar gum offers many benefits, it can be a tricky ingredient to work with. We hope this guide has given you the knowledge needed to feel confident using guar gum powder in your weekly dishes. Have a favorite way to use guar gum that we didn't mention in this article? We'd love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments below!