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Xanthan


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#31 paulraphael

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 08:55 AM

Are you guys suggesting that the slimy mouthfeel is a reaction some people have and others don't?

One of the things I like about xanthan is that if it isn't overused, I get no weird lingering mouthfeel. But I'd have to rethink some of my recipes if a significant number of people would find them gross (for some reason I can't test for).

#32 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 09:13 AM

Are you guys suggesting that the slimy mouthfeel is a reaction some people have and others don't?

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Maybe. My immediate association with it was that this is one of the things I don't like about processed foods.

Maybe there are contexts where it doesn't have that effect, like baked goods or in combination with other ingredients that cut through the slime (acids? alcohol?). I haven't experimented enough with it yet myself.

#33 paulraphael

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 09:35 AM

Are you guys suggesting that the slimy mouthfeel is a reaction some people have and others don't?

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Maybe. My immediate association with it was that this is one of the things I don't like about processed foods.

Maybe there are contexts where it doesn't have that effect, like baked goods or in combination with other ingredients that cut through the slime (acids? alcohol?). I haven't experimented enough with it yet myself.

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Sliminess for me is just a sign that too much was used, or it was used inapropriately. I'm wondering (worried) if I could make something that feels fine to me and would feel slimey to you or someone else.

In general, I find every colloid, including the more traditional ones like cornstarch, arrowroot, roux, and reduced gelatin, has some bad textural quality that's brought out by overuse or use in the wrong context.

I started using xanthan to get away from the shortcomings of cornstarch and arrowroot, which i started using to get away from roux.

#34 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 09:49 AM

Interesting. I prefer roux to cornstarch, but I like arrowroot in some contexts.

I think the only controlled way to use less xanthan than I'm using would be to make, say, a 0.1% or maybe even 0.05% solution and add it by drops as needed. Is there any reason not to do it this way? Most descriptions I've read have people measuring minuscule amounts of the dry powder.

#35 chiantiglace

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 03:46 PM

alright first of all you can't judge xanthan in a solution of banana, because puree'd banana, especially cooked, can tend to have a sliminess all on its own. Second, you probably put to much in, that is if this was not banana.

Also, xanthan does not emulsify, it suspends. There is a big difference between an emulsion and a suspension.

And if you want to consider the context of hydrocolloids, I would use gum arabic for this application either in conjuction with xanthan or even on its own, especially with banana.

I can't believe I started this thread, ha, I can answer all my own questions now....

Edited by chiantiglace, 11 August 2009 - 03:47 PM.

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#36 isomer

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 04:13 PM

I use the tiniest pinch in vinaigrettes. Keeps them from separating. I recently read in Cook's Illustrated that they use a small amount of mayo for the same effect.

#37 paulraphael

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 04:19 PM

I think the only controlled way to use less xanthan than I'm using would be to make, say, a 0.1% or maybe even 0.05% solution and add it by drops as needed.  Is there any reason not to do it this way?  Most descriptions I've read have people measuring minuscule amounts of the dry powder.

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I'm guessing this is the photographer in you, mixing a percentage solution like you'd do with phenidone.

Which has crossed my mind ... it would make both measuring and mixing easier. The trouble is preserving it. It would make the most sense if you could keep the solution around for a while, and I suspect it would spoil pretty quickly.

#38 mgaretz

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 05:55 PM

I use xanthan gum regularly in frozen things I make in my Blendtec blender (smoothies to frozen desserts). I make them all dairy-free (since I'm lactose intolerant). Most of the smoothie and soft serve recipes call for banana which acts as an emulsifier and smoothing agent. But bananas are very high in carbs so I use the xanthan to replace the banana.

A typical smoothie will be 1 cup of frozen fruit, 1 cup of liquid (usually non-dairy, sugar-free creamer, or a mix with water) and 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum. A typical soft serve will be 2 cups of frozen fruit, 1 cup of liquid and 1 tsp of xanthan gum.

It's important to get the xanthan dispersed before the heavy blending takes place. Usually I put the liquid in the blender, gently sprinkle the xanthan on the surface (along with any other powdered ingredients - like cocoa powder) and pulse a few times. Then add the frozen fruit and blend.

Edited by mgaretz, 11 August 2009 - 05:57 PM.


#39 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 06:21 PM

I'm guessing this is the photographer in you, mixing a percentage solution like you'd do with phenidone.

You got it.

Which has crossed my mind ... it would make both measuring and mixing easier. The trouble is preserving it. It would make the most sense if you could keep the solution around for a while, and I suspect it would spoil pretty quickly.

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I mixed up a 0.1% solution, let it sit out for several hours to be sure it all dissolved, and put it in the fridge. I'll let you know how long it lasts.

Thanks, everyone for the suggestions.

I looked around some more and realized that there was a banana shake recipe by Martin Lersch in his Hydrocolloids compilation on khymos.org, and his uses a larger proportion of xanthan than I did, but no yogurt, so maybe there's something about the combination of uncooked frozen banana, yogurt, and xanthan. The yogurt was homemade, so it didn't have any stabilizers in it that could have interacted with the xanthan. I'm using a fraction of what mgaretz is using, so even if it turns out to be too much for my taste, I seem to be using less than others are using, and it still seems a little too slippery.

It didn't seem immediately slimy when I drank it, but it left a feeling of sliminess afterward, like an aftertaste, but it was more of an "aftertexture."

Edited by David A. Goldfarb, 11 August 2009 - 06:29 PM.


#40 paulraphael

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 10:18 PM

that slimy "aftertexture" pretty well describes the results when I tried to stablilize ice cream with arrowroot. I'd always liked arrowroot more than cornstarch in sauces, so I thought it might be better in ice cream, too ... in spite of warnings from people smarter than me that arrowroot does weird things in the presence of dairy.

#41 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 04:57 AM

I haven't tried arrowroot in ice cream, but just in sauces, usually at the end if I've used another thickener like roux and want it to be a little thicker, so even then the arrowroot isn't the dominant thickener.

Overnight, my 0.1% xanthan solution still seems okay. Also half a glass of leftover banana smoothie with xanthan in the fridge only separated a little bit and could easily be stirred back to its previous state.

#42 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 05:37 AM

Okay, just tried another banana smoothie, this time without yogurt (we ran out), and I think that may have been the problem. I really don't like commercial yogurts that have stabilizers and thickeners, so maybe the combination of my own plain yogurt and xanthan gum was creating a texture I associate with processed commercial yogurt.

I also was able to measure 0.02g xanthan much more accurately and easily using a 0.1% solution (0.1g xanthan to 100g filtered water, so 10ml of solution contains 0.01g xanthan). Unless the solution goes bad too quickly, I'll probably stick with this approach for dealing with these tiny amounts.

The proportions I used were--one cup of whole milk, one uncooked frozen banana, about a tablespoon of ground flax, a little honey--less than 1/2 tsp, four ice cubes, and 20 ml 0.1% xanthan solution (0.02g).

I know, I have a strange 2-1/2 year old who asks for flax in his smoothies, on his yogurt, his oatmeal...

#43 paulraphael

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 08:36 AM

If the xanthan solution gets nasty, maybe you could try adding a preservative to the next batch. citric acid? sodium sulfite from the darkroom?
also, are you keeping it in the fridge?

Edited by paulraphael, 12 August 2009 - 08:36 AM.


#44 mgaretz

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 08:38 AM

  I'm using a fraction of what mgaretz is using, so even if it turns out to be too much for my taste, I seem to be using less than others are using, and it still seems a little too slippery.

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I'm not using any banana. If I was using banana, I wouldn't even bother with the xanthan. My goal was to substitute xanthan for the banana.

#45 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 10:50 AM

If the xanthan solution gets nasty, maybe you could try adding a preservative to the next batch. citric acid? sodium sulfite from the darkroom?
also, are you keeping it in the fridge?

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Yes, I'm keeping it in the fridge. I'm not making that much at a time that I think I need to worry about adding a preservative, but yeah, I use so little citric acid in the darkroom (a tiny amount to keep my amidol solution going) that I do find uses for it in the kitchen, like descaling the espresso machine. It's a lot cheaper by the pound than it is in those little packets they sell for espresso machines.

#46 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 10:22 AM

So after several hours at room temperature and a day in the fridge, I noticed that the 0.1% xanthan solution had a vaguely sweet aroma that I would associate with overripe fruit, so I tossed it and made a new batch in the blender that I would put straight into the fridge, instead of letting it stand out for hours, and I noticed that the fresh batch had that same faint aroma, more easily detected having just been whipped up in the blender, so the batch I tossed was probably still good. It didn't do anything like separate or coagulate, so I'm guessing the solution should be fairly long lasting. I'll report back on the new batch.

Edited by David A. Goldfarb, 14 August 2009 - 10:23 AM.


#47 chiantiglace

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 10:49 AM

So after several hours at room temperature and a day in the fridge, I noticed that the 0.1% xanthan solution had a vaguely sweet aroma that I would associate with overripe fruit, so I tossed it and made a new batch in the blender that I would put straight into the fridge, instead of letting it stand out for hours, and I noticed that the fresh batch had that same faint aroma, more easily detected having just been whipped up in the blender, so the batch I tossed was probably still good.  It didn't do anything like separate or coagulate, so I'm guessing the solution should be fairly long lasting.  I'll report back on the new batch.

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its not a protein so its not going to separate or coagulate. when it goes bad, you will see mold.

Edited by chiantiglace, 15 August 2009 - 10:50 AM.

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#48 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 11:19 AM

Four days later refrigerated in a stoppered bottle, no mold, no odor.

#49 McDuff

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 04:13 PM

I tried to keep cole slaw from leaking too much by using xanthan gum recently. I didn't care for the mouthfeel, but I probably used too much. A week later the cole slaw hadn't leaked a drop.

#50 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 05:20 PM

I tried some in a tomato sauce to give it a little more cling. It worked, but I'm also a bit unsure about the mouthfeel. I used 0.02g in about 3 cups of liquid.

#51 Werdna

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 08:18 PM

I'm also playing with it in wheat-free bread (4 parts oat flour, 1 part potato starch, 1 part tapioca starch) and the ratio I'm seeing suggested is 3/4 teaspoon per cup of flour. Hope that's not too much, but I used 1 teaspoon before for 3 cups and that did not seem like enough to mimic wheat gluten very well.

#52 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 08:14 AM

Six days, still good.

I'm thinking that, if I decide to keep xanthan around the kitchen as a staple thickener/stabilizer, the 0.1% solution is ideal for the amounts of food I'm usually preparing. It dissolves quickly, and basically two teaspoons of the solution is 10ml, which is 0.01g, and the amount that I'm likely to use for up to a quart of liquid is typically less than 0.08g, just to hold something together without changing the mouthfeel. If I need more than that, I can weigh out the dry powder.

#53 paulraphael

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 11:58 AM

I might play with this too. It saves some measuring and makes dissolving the stuff easier.

Have you tried a 1% solution? to get your 0.08g, it would take 8ml of solution ... easy to measure with a baby doser, and not so much water added to the recipe.

#54 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 12:05 PM

A 1% solution would be useful too, if I were often needing larger quantities, but I'm finding that I'm more likely to use .01-.03g more than .05-.08g, and then if I do need more than .05g, I can weigh it out, mix with a smaller amount of liquid, and then combine with the rest of the liquid.

I've been measuring the liquid with a graduated shot glass that's marked in ml, teaspoons, tablespoons, and fractions of an ounce, but we have a bunch of baby droppers too.

#55 Sethro

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 12:25 PM

For sauces, Ultra Sperse 3 is so, so, SO much better. Xantham has a terrible, mucous-like mouthfeel to me. I only use Xantham in cases where I need to increase viscosity like a foam base.

#56 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 03:22 PM

I was planning to make some ice cream today, so I tried a variation on the orange custard ice cream with 1.6% xanthan from the _Hydrocolloids_ compilation. Curious texture--holds its shape right out of the ice cream maker, slightly phlegmy. Now I know how they make ice cream that doesn't melt. I don't think I'd do it with that much xanthan again, if at all. Since it's a custard anyway, I don't think it needs the xanthan.

#57 Tri2Cook

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 03:43 PM

For sauces, Ultra Sperse 3 is so, so, SO much better. Xantham has a terrible, mucous-like mouthfeel to me. I only use Xantham in cases where I need to increase viscosity like a foam base.

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+1 on that. Xanthan is useful in many applications for it's synergy with other hydrocolloids but I don't love it as a sauce thickener even at carefully regulated levels. For the banana smoothie, kappa carrageenan at .02% - .03% should do the trick without having to worry about sliminess.
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#58 paulraphael

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 07:25 AM

What other hydrocolloids do you guys like for sauces? Is there anything that mimics the mouthfeel of gelatin, but that doens't congeal when it cools?

How well does methycellulose work (in conjunction with natural gelatin)? I've heard of people using this because it thickens at higher temps, thins at lower ones ... so it balances the natural tendency of the gelatin.

And--if you had to pick a colloid that gives similar qualities to an egg custard, what would it be?

#59 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 07:51 AM

I haven't tried methylcellulose, but I wonder about cooking with a product that is also known for its laxative properties. Of course we cook with other fibrous things that have that effect, but one dose of Citrucel contains 2g methylcellulose as the active ingredient, which seems to be the same order of magnitude as food quantities.

#60 Tri2Cook

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 11:42 AM

How well does methycellulose work (in conjunction with natural gelatin)? I've heard of people using this because it thickens at higher temps, thins at lower ones ... so it balances the natural tendency of the gelatin.

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I've read some of the stuff on using methylcellulose as a sauce thickener but I don't really work with it much so I don't have many types around to play with. I have a few (non-sauce) applications where I use SGA-16 as a stabilizer but that's about it. I like ultra tex and ultra sperse. For some applications I like agar or gellan (fluid gels). I've been planning to dig up some information on using sodium alginate as a thickener just as a curiosity thing. I know it's done but don't know much about it beyond that. I'll get around to it at some point. Of course, none of them will make me give up a good flour-based roux for some uses and the usual starch suspects (corn, rice, arrowroot, etc.) have their place in the kitchen as well.
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.