Guar gum vs. xanthan gum

So, whats up with these gums, huh? I have no idea, nor do I really care, I just like that they make my baked goods better! BUT I have questions, like which-one-for-what-recipe? and are-they-interchangeable? and what’s-the-difference??? Well, I’m going to do my not-actually-researched-at-all “best” to answer these questions.

I could really care less about the science of these gums and where they come from and why they work (shame, shame). What I do care about is that they work when I bake with them. If you want to get to know the scientific side of these gummy wonders, I suggest a google search. The results will be overwhelming, trust me, which is why I’m sticking to the when-do-they-work side of the story here. I really like dashes today dash-dash-dash!

ANYWAY, a little story. When I first started baking gluten free I used xanthan (yes it’s spelled x-a-n-t-h-a-N) gum cause it’s the only thing I had heard of and all of the recipes I’d seen called for it. Then I started hearing about guar gum (and other gums but xanthan and guar are the only two I use), and seeing recipes calling for it. So I picked some up. I did a tiny bit if research and concluded (along with other bloggers I was reading at the time) that they were each for different applications and behaved differently. Then I started seeing the dreaded it’s-BAD-for-you posts about xanthan gum………so I stopped using it. And stopped baking recipes using it. But I missed my tasties. So I did some more research and came to believe (along with other, different, bloggers I was reading at the time) that xanthan and guar gum could be used interchangeably (YAY) so I made all of my old recipes again. Guess what? FLOP after FLOP after FLOP. So sad. Okay, so I guess they can’t be used interchangeably then. Bummer. Then I started reading more about how there’s nothing wrong with xanthan gum………..wait, what?!? And then, on top of all that jazz, there’s the matter of price, guar gum is SO much cheaper than xanthan gum…….what to do?!?!? SO confusing.

My conclusion: I still don’t care know about xanthan gum and if I’m killing my family with it or something but it’s never bothered anyone I’ve fed it to before so I’mma keep using it. Might-be-GMO-something-or-other aside, I love the stuff. Guar gum has it’s place as well. I have plenty of recipes using it that I love and that would not be the same with xanthan gum (trust me, I’ve tried. Even though I prefer xanthan gum, some recipes just NEED guar gum).

SO, basically, use whatever gum the damn recipe calls for! Why do you………wait, I mean why do I keep trying to mess with the recipes?!?!? I’ve learned my yucky-flop-baked goods lesson trying to interchange them and I do not recommend it. In any recipe I come across that specifically indicates that it’s okay to use either one, I ALWAYS go for the xanthan gum. It seems to hold up a bit stronger and I just like the end results better in most cases.  My advice? Have both in your cupboard and use them according to recipe. Easy-peasy! If you HAVE to use only guar gum for reasons of cost, allergies, GMO, or whatever, use MORE. I’d estimate 1 1/2 times what the original xanthan gum amount is. It seemed like my baked goods would be a little better when I used more. But really, what do I know?

I’m sure I’ve answered absolutely NONE of your questions nor properly addressed any of the issues surrounding gums in the GF community but oh well I guess. Happy Baking! (I hope you aren’t tearing your hair out and/or hating on me by now!)

© 2014-2015 Bowls Full of Yummy. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bowls Full of Yummy with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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One response

  1. Great scientific advise…the science of flop or no flop!!
    I really appreciated your hard earned expertise
    I understand it and totally trust you
    Since I’ve had the priveledge of tasting your yummy gourmet cooking
    And would never turn down food from your kitchen
    As many agree!! It’s the BEST!!

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