Friday, April 27, 2012

A - Z Challenge: X

X is for Xanthan.

When I was mentally pawing through the x-words that I knew without resorting to a Google list, the first one that popped into my mind was xanthan.  Specifically xanthan gum.  In an society obsessed - and I am obviously no less obsessed - with reading food labels, I see this ingredient all the time.  But what the heck is it?

OK.  I googled it.  According to an article on Wikipedia, it isn't something that sounds edible.  There is a detailed molecular chart explaining its chemical components.  I'm not a chemistry sort of person, so I have linked the article where you can read it for yourself.  Xanthan is not exactly a man-made substance.  So, while it does occur naturally it has been synthesized for mass production.  It's used that much.

This stuff is a basic in the prepared food industry as a thickener.  You see it on many, many labels.  I was even more curious about it, though, when I read that it can be used to mimic the gluten when making breads with gluten-free grains.  It makes the dough sticky like gluten does.  The fine print states that you have to get a xanthan not made from wheat...so read those labels.  Again.

When I got to the part in the article that said it was grown from a similar bacteria that created black spots on the broccoli and cauliflower that have lingered too long in the fridge, I decided that I knew enough.  I've pretty much given up on pre-made salad dressing which is where I kept seeing it on the ingredient list.  I don't think it's absolutely necessary to a gluten-free diet.  And I think I can manage to eat the broccoli faster than the black spot can gallop.

Xanthan.  Now you know.  


8 comments:

Ginny said...

Ewwww.

Rudee said...

Mixed correctly, with maybe a teaspoon of dijon mustard, salad dressing is thick enough without the x word additive.

I'll take my salad without black spots, please!

EmptyNester said...

I use it when I bake bread- since we are gluten free now, the recipes call for it. And in some cake recipes. But now...LOL

Mimi said...

I've come across it too, but never made enquiries as to its exact nature. I think I've come across it in vegan recipes too, instead of eggs? I haven't used it and won't be inclined to now.
Interesting X choice!

ladydragonfly said...

Yuck! It sounds horrible.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Well, that's sort of disgusting, isn't it? I think I'll go back to my old favorite, a homemade vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette...but I'd better check the ingredients of that Dijon mustard...

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

I'm hooked on balsamic vinegar and olive oil with a sprinkling of sea salt on my salads... glad I have abandoned ship on the premade! blessings ~ Tanna

fabricfan said...

I have my own packet of the stuff. It is vital in the gluten, egg free world to hold it all together in the baking dish.

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