Choices affect every aspect of our lives.
What we prefer to eat, drink, drive, cook, read and with whom we intersect personally and professionally all have consequences, both good and bad.
In the case of gluten-free baking, the selection of a binding agent to replace the gluten is the key element to any recipe’s success.
Baking without gluten affects the texture, taste and structure of baked goods, almost in the same manner as a lack of love, affection and attention loosens family bonds.
Gluten wears several hats, so to speak.
It is a protein, but it is also a binder that holds baked items together.
It provides structure, which enhances the binding process and has elasticity, which makes it flexible and malleable.
It can be formed into shapes that maintain their contours.
Gluten also serves to aid in moisture retention in baked goods, which helps to extend shelf life.
Creating the perfect balance between air and both wet and dry ingredients, gluten traps the air bubbles inside of a batter, which binds ingredients together and prevents them from becoming a watery mishmash.
Guar gum powder is high in fiber and a fine emulsifier, and xanthun gum has certain gelling properties, which is why they are often used together.
But which is the better baking alternative?
The following explains the pros and cons of each, and why Guar Gum Powder is a more effective choice, especially with Gluten-free recipes.
What Is A Binding Agent?
There is more to binding agents than that which may meet the eye.
In baked goods, they render volume, texture, and firmness. Artificial binders are very common in the food manufacturing industry.
The most popular natural binding agents are: eggs, potato starch, flours and tapioca flour, which is a blend between starch and flour.
In home cooking, eggs add both color and texture to foods and they also serve a to emulsify and coagulate, which effectively binds ingredients together during the baking process.
The following products are alternative choices for use as binding agents in gluten free baked goods.
Some are good and others are better, but guar gum powder shines with its own special light above the rest.
While xanthan gum is often used both interchangeably and in conjunction with guar gum in many gluten-free recipes, it an entirely different product.
Unlike guar gum, which is the byproduct of a seed that is indigenous to tropical Asia, xanthan is synthetic, made by a micro organism called Xanthomonas Campestris.
While both guar and xanthan gums succeed in keeping oil droplets from sticking together and separating, and solid particles from settling to the bottom, xanthan is thought to be better for baked goods such as yeasted breads and guar is best for cold foods such as ice cream or pastry fillings.
Xanthan gum has a limited shelf life and it is generally not recommended for use after the expiration date because it doesn’t work as well.
In its dry form, however, it tends to last longer provided that it is properly warehoused.
Guar gum powder, on the other hand, retains its properties for as long as 12 to 18 months and this time can even be extended with the addition of preservatives.
Psyllium Fiber (Psyllium Husk Powder)
Considered primarily as a dietary supplement used among body builders and athletes to balance digestive health with cholesterol reduction, psyllium fiber is also a superior binding agent that improves the baking quality of bread.
Once psyllium fiber is mixed into a main batter or dough, it retains liquid and won’t dry out the mixture.
It is this factor alone that makes psyllium fiber very effective at giving height to baked goods.
Several research studies, one conducted on Kuwait and the other at the University of Milan and Michigan State University, indicated the benefits of psyllium fiber when used in baked goods.
The former resulted in breads that rose a little higher, retained more moisture and had more volume; the latter, which was focused on improving the structure of gluten-free dough, discovered that the addition of psyllium fiber “enhanced the quality of the doughs.”
Fine binding agents that can absorb up to 12 times their own weight in water, chia seeds are extremely high in fiber and can have a laxative effect.
From a nutritional perspective, chia seeds are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids protein and fiber.
They are extremely versatile, and used for everything from sprinkling into flour mixes to adding a nutritional boost to an egg substitute.
They can be ground and form a gel-like substance, which enhances the quality of dough, and locks in moisture when baking breads, pastries and cakes.
They often replace xanthan gum because they have a mild, nutty flavor, which infuses the flavor of the baked goods into which they are added.
Known in Assia for hundreds of years as a dietary fiber, konjac powder is also used as a thickener.
It’s many health benefits include: the reduction of blood cholesterol, bowel cancer risk and a regulator of blood sugar levels.
It is pure, soluble fiber, without protein, fat, sugar or starch.
It has about 10 ten times the viscosity of cornstarch, no caloric content and is both gluten and wheat free.
Flaxseeds are extremely popular in baking, and flaxseed oil is a reputable health supplement.
In addition to being very inexpensive, these seeds are easily accessible and are excellent binding agents.
They are not used in their natural state and must first be ground and mixed with boiled water.
A gel-like paste known as a slurry results, which is then added to gluten-free flour when baking breads and cakes specifically.
Odorless, colorless and tasteless, Agar is is a seaweed derivative that contains 80% fiber.
It is commonly used in laboratories, where it serves as a culture that provides nutrients and a place for bacteria and other micro-organisms to grow.
When agar is mixed with water, it forms a gel-like substance, which in baking renders breads that are chewier, moister and have increased dough elasticity.
Not as accessible locally and pricier than guar gum, the Internet is the main source of agar, which is one reason why guar gum powder is the safer and better consumer choice.
Guar Resources, the leading guar manufacturer in the United States, stands behind both our product and our promise to utilize our industrial expertise and state-of-the-art technology to produce the highest quality guar gum powder possible.
We guarantee our guar gum powder is certified, which means it has undergone processes that comply with USDA organic regulations.
We also support American farmers and protect their investment by purchasing 100% of the pounds of guar contracted.
Gelatin is another binding agent that is used in foods containing a gummy or elastic texture.
Due to the fact that it is made from the collagen found in animal bones and skin, it is not a vegan-friendly alternative.
Is Guar Gum Vegan? Yep!
When gelatin combined with water, it transforms into a gel, which traps the water, creating a stretchier dough.
Particularly effective in gluten-free pizza crust recipes, dough becomes more pliable and easier to shape without cracking.
In other recipes, gelatin is also used to bind and thicken batters and dough. Gelatin is also frequently used as an egg substitute and in this capacity, serves as a binder.
Guar Resources and The Uniqueness of Guar Gum Powder
Guar Resources is the only producer of guar that is USDA certified.
The versatility, popularity and chemical properties of our guar plant sets it apart from others of its ilk.
Apart from the food, animal feed, farming horticulture, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, guar extracts play an important role in the petrochemical, textile, paper production, mining and construction industries as well.
The majority of Guar is grown for its endosperm.
It is approximately 50% protein, with the endosperm being 28%, and 22% hull.
Guar seed endosperm is a source of water soluble gum, which is utilized as a stabilizer, emulsifier and thickener in various food products.
Guar gum powder is 100% USA made from guar beans grown in the United States using sustainable farming practices.
Buyers can always be assured that their purchased product will be the result of the highest standards of production.
Guar Resources works in tandem with our clients, whether the buyer is a farmer, manufacturer distributor, or industry executive.
Together, they share the common goal of expanding the profitability and sustainability of guar production within the United States.
Choices are always at the core of the human condition.
When it comes to gluten free cooking and achieving the best results, the best option is guar gum powder.
Try a gluten-free recipe using guar gum powder today. You will never be without it again.