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chiantiglace

Xanthan

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I use 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum in my scratch butter cake. It makes it more moist and longer lasting. This amount is perfect for a recipe calling for 3 cups of all-purpose wheat flour.

I use 1/4 tsp. in my scratch German Chocolate cake. Again, it makes the cake more moist (since I've found many scratch GC cakes to be dry) and longer lasting.

You can't overdo it with xanthan gum though. When I was experimenting with it, I originally added 2 tsp. of it to my butter cake recipe and it turned out to be a gummy mess.

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I was actually advised by TIC gums, that as the pH levels decrease (more acidic) that it is likely to need a greater percentage of xanthan.

start at .1%, your ph balance is also a factor.

Unless you're dealing with an very acidic sauce, pH balance is not a factor with xanthan.

i stand corrected

The literature on xanthan seems to play like a broken record when it comes to xanthan being the best choice for low pH environments/xanthan being the most acid stable thickener on the market. What isn't spelled out in black and white, though, is whether or not additional amounts of xanthan are required as the pH drops.

Acid stable, yes, pH dependent, perhaps.

When I posted earlier, I felt like the literature implied pH independence, but now that I think about it, I could have bean reading too much into it.

So, with this in mind, I may be the one in error.

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Does anyone have any rules-of-thumb as far as how much xanthan gum to use for a given quantity of liquid? Since it is soluble in hot or cold liquids, and doesn't have to be boiled to thicken, I suppose you could just add it bit by bit until you got the viscosity you wanted, but it would be good to know what general rules there might be.

ETA: I checked a few sites, and for thickening sauces, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1t per cup seems to be recommended.

In theory, yes, 1 t. will thicken a cup of liquid, but in practice... you'd end up with a gloppy stringy slimy mess. Commercially, xanthan is almost always used either in small amounts or in conjuction with other thickeners. It has an especially good synergy with guar. I always combine the two.

That's what I'm reading in the Food Product Design articles -- that the best effects are usually achieved with mixtures. I'm very much interested in hearing anything you want to say about how you have used these gums, singly or in combinations, and the successes and failures you've had. I'm curious in particular whether you've experimented with using these in ice creams.

I haven't used gums in ice creams personally, but I've developed gum based ice cream formulas for a few clients and they've been extremely happy with the results. From what I understand, gums limit ice crystal formation in two ways.

1. As dissolved solids, the gum particles get in the way of ice crystals attempting to grow.

2. By increasing the viscosity of the base, they help incorporate more air (overrun). The air bubbles in the foam are another barrier to ice crystals. Overrun also helps weaken the overall structure of the ice cream and creates a more scoopable end product.

The smaller the ice crystals, the smoother the mouthfeel in the end product.

Other than ice cream, my favorite use for xanthan/guar is as a stabilizer. I add it to Thai coconut milk based curries to help prevent them from separating. I also use it in cheese sauces to prevent curdling.

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Does anyone have any rules-of-thumb as far as how much xanthan gum to use for a given quantity of liquid? Since it is soluble in hot or cold liquids, and doesn't have to be boiled to thicken, I suppose you could just add it bit by bit until you got the viscosity you wanted, but it would be good to know what general rules there might be.

ETA: I checked a few sites, and for thickening sauces, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1t per cup seems to be recommended.

In theory, yes, 1 t. will thicken a cup of liquid, but in practice... you'd end up with a gloppy stringy slimy mess. Commercially, xanthan is almost always used either in small amounts or in conjuction with other thickeners. It has an especially good synergy with guar. I always combine the two.

That's what I'm reading in the Food Product Design articles -- that the best effects are usually achieved with mixtures. I'm very much interested in hearing anything you want to say about how you have used these gums, singly or in combinations, and the successes and failures you've had. I'm curious in particular whether you've experimented with using these in ice creams.

I haven't used gums in ice creams personally, but I've developed gum based ice cream formulas for a few clients and they've been extremely happy with the results. From what I understand, gums limit ice crystal formation in two ways.

1. As dissolved solids, the gum particles get in the way of ice crystals attempting to grow.

2. By increasing the viscosity of the base, they help incorporate more air (overrun). The air bubbles in the foam are another barrier to ice crystals. Overrun also helps weaken the overall structure of the ice cream and creates a more scoopable end product.

The smaller the ice crystals, the smoother the mouthfeel in the end product.

Other than ice cream, my favorite use for xanthan/guar is as a stabilizer. I add it to Thai coconut milk based curries to help prevent them from separating. I also use it in cheese sauces to prevent curdling.

From what I gathered from how gums use (not to give a different idea, but to add on to) was different with different hydrocolloids. Algniate gels in the presence of calcium ions +2, so it would make sense for this to be the main ingredient in ice cream stabilizer. With the gums, the ones used are thixotropic which means while the product is freezing, the gum resists the extreme temperature naturally to protect food stores. Ice crystals being a natural enemy, this is why.

*just wanted to add to the science.


Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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I have to agree with scott thought about the phlegmy mouthfeel with xanthan sauces.

Glad to see this isn't just my imagination and that it's not my allergies acting up. I attended a hydrocolloid workshop yesterday and we got some samples of various materials used in the class to take home.

So this morning I tried a tiny paring knife tip of xanthan--less than .05g, probably more like .02g, but not enough to register on my scale that reads to .01g--in my toddler's banana smoothie, which he helps me make most mornings. Today's had plain whole milk yogurt, whole milk, a little honey, a frozen banana, and a few ice cubes--about 300ml total volume. He liked it. It was smoother than without the xanthan gum, more like a fast food milk shake (which I don't think he's ever tried--maybe with the babysitter), and it was much more stable. Normally they start to separate after a half hour or so, and with the xanthan gum there is very little separation. It seems great for holding an emulsion together.

But I only had a sip, and an hour later I still have the slimy mouthfeel.

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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).

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

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

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.

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.

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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.

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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 (log)

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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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.

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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.

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.

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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 (log)

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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.

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 (log)

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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 (log)

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  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.

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.

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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?

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.

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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 (log)

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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.

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


Edited by chiantiglace (log)

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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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.

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