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Day 5 – GuarGum // MSR

By Tuesday, September 13, 2005No Comments

I was eating some ice cream and I was reminded of those commercials about guargum. what is that crap?

again, google was a bit of a help to shed some light on this sticky subject

Guar Gum
Guar gum is an emulsifier, thickener, and stabilizer approved for use in a wide range of foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. It is sold as a white to yellowish odorless white powder, which is available in different viscosities and different granulometries depending on the desired viscosity. Its viscosity is a function of temperature, time, and concentration. One advantageous property of guar gum is that it thickens without the application of heat.

Guar Gum is derived from the ground endosperm of the guar plant, Cyanmopsis tetragonolobus belonging to the family Leguminosae. The guar plant is mainly grown in India and Pakistan from the month of July to December. At harvest time, the seeds are extracted from the pod of the plant and then ground into guar gum.

Guar Gum is a natural high molecular weight polysaccharide composed of galactan and mannan units. Polysaccharides are complex sugar molecules with nine or more simple sugars (monosaccharides) linked together. Examples of other types of polysaccharides include starch and cellulose.

Guar gum is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) with differing percentages set for its allowable concentration in various food applications. Several studies have found significant decreases in cholesterol levels after administration of guar gum in humans. These decreases are thought to be a function of the high soluble fiber content of guar.

In the late 1980s, guar gum was used and heavily promoted in several weight loss products. FDA eventually recalled these due to reports of esophageal blockage from insufficient fluid intake. For this reason, guar gum is no longer approved for use in over-the-counter weight loss aids in the United States. However, it remains approved for use as an emulsifier, thickener, and stabilizer.

Many products containing guar gum are currently sold in our stores. Guar gum has historically been considered acceptable as a food, cosmetic, and supplement additive at Whole Foods Market when used according to FDA regulations and in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices.
Food Applications
• Bakery- increases dough yield, gives greater resiliency, and improves texture and shelf life.
• Dairy-thickens ice creams, sherbets, cheese, liquid milk products, etc.
• Meat-functions as lubricant and binder.
• Dressing and sauces-improves the stability and appearance of salad dressings, barbecue sauces, relishes, ketchups and others (especially highly acidic emulsions).
• Misc.- Dry soups, sweet desserts, canned fish in sauce, frozen food items and animal feed.
• Pharmaceutical and Cosmetics
• Guar gum can be used as a thickener for various cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. In compressed tablets guar gum can be used as a binder and distintegrator.

Guar gum is a polysacharide (a long chain made of sugars) made of the sugars galactose and mannose.
Some other familiar polysacharides are starch and cellulose, which are made of long chains of the sugar glucose.
Guar gum comes from the endosperm of the seed of the legume plant Cyamopsis tetragonolobus. Cyamopsis tetragonolobus is an annual plant, grown in arid regions of India as a food crop for animals.

Guar gum is used as a thickener in cosmetics, sauces, salad dressings, as an agent in ice cream that prevents ice crystals from forming, and as a fat substitute that adds the “mouth feel” of fat.
In pastry fillings, it prevents “weeping” (syneresis) of the water in the filling, keeping the pastry crust crisp.
It has a very high viscosity (thickness) even when very little is used.
When mixed with xanthan gum or locust bean gum, the viscosity is more than when either one is used alone, so less of each can be used.
From plant genes to ice cream

The guar plant produces a gum that helps give ice cream its creaminess and shampoo its gooeyness. Image courtesy of Kanwarpal S. Dhugga.

If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients list on a carton of ice cream, you’ve probably spotted some weird items among the sugar, cream and eggs. Ever wonder what “guar gum” is and what it’s doing in your ice cream?

Plants like the guar plant produce a substance called a “gum” that helps support their cell walls. When they’re extracted from the plants, gums help give ice cream its creaminess and shampoo its gooeyness. Plant gums are even used to help manage the flow of concrete.
Scientists have been wanting to identify the plant genes necessary for making gums for two reasons. First, they want to understand how plants grow and build their cell walls. They would also like to learn about the plant’s gum-making machinery, so they can insert the genetic instructions for making gums into other plants as well.

Kanwarpal S. Dhugga, a scientist at a company called Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., and his colleagues have now identified an important gum gene in the guar plant. The gene is for an enzyme that propels the chemical reactions that produce the gum.
In their study, appearing in the 16 January issue of Science, Dhugga and his colleagues explain that most guar gums are typically imported from South Asia or the Mediterranean and that their prices vary a lot from season to season. If researchers can put the gum-making genes into more reliable, abundant, local crops, like soybean, they may have a cheaper source of useful plant gums.

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