Why use Xanthan Gum in Ketogenic Cooking?
Why use xanthan gum? It’s a must have in a lot of low carb baked goods, especially breads. Xanthan gum helps hold all of the ingredients together, unlike some other gluten free breads that end up looking like a pile of crumbs. A small amount of xanthan gum can go a long way: You only need about a half a teaspoon for most recipes. For breads, you’ll usually use a full teaspoon.
What exactly does xanthan gum do? It binds the ingredients together and can act as a substitute for gluten. Gluten enables bread to rise because it traps air bubbles and allows them to grow. Xanthan gum can substitute by doing the same thing.
Xanthan gum doesn’t function as yeast/leavener; it mimics the function of gluten. Xanthan gum turns the dough gummy and sticky, which enables the dough to trap gas bubbles from the yeast (or other leavener like baking soda), which in turn allows the dough to rise. Imagine if you will a large piece of bubble gum. That’s the texture of a normal flour dough, and with Xanthan gum, that will also be the approximate texture of your gluten free, low carb dough.
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Does Xanthan Gum Ferment?
Now onto the matter of Xanthan gum and fermentation. Xanthan gum is made by fermentation, it does not itself ferment. Many things are made by fermentation. In the case of Xanthan gum, sugars are digested by bacteria, and they excrete Xanthan gum. An example is vanilla. Vanilla flavor is created by the fermentation of vanilla bean pods. But it doesn’t itself ferment or create fermentation in cooking.
Possible substitutes for Xanthan gum are Guar gum and flaxseed. I have not tried these alternate methods, but from what I’ve heard, they do help hold things together. However, numerous people say that they don’t work quite as well as Xanthan gum does.
Make sure you use a gluten free version of Xanthan gum, as most that are not gluten free are made from wheat.