Xanthan Gum: Magic for Sauces and Pastes

For some sauces and liquids, Xanthan Gum is the way to go.
Stirring it into a cold liquid will significantly increase the viscosity of this liquid, turning it into a cream or paste.
You will probably consume more Xanthan in everyday life than you’re even aware of. Just check the packaging of your toothpaste, cosmetics, ice cream,salad dressings, sauces.
Gluten free foods are also highly likely to contain Xanthan Gum as it gives them the stickiness that normally comes from Gluten.
If it says “E415” on the package, it contains Xanthan Gum.

The great advantage is that Xanthan Gum doesn’t change the flavor or the colour of the foods that are treated with it.
I personally use it a lot in my cooking.

One great example is soy sauce. Soy Sauce has a very low viscosity. Iyou pour it over food it will just run down and collect at the bottom of the plate. Not what you want if your dish is artfully stacked or it simply needs to stick to your food to get the full flavour.
Of course you could simmer down the soy sauce until it has the required viscosity. This will take a long time though and, what’s worse, the result will taste extremely salty. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Instead, all you do is add a little bit of Xanthan Gum, stir hard using a hand blender or, in case of small quantities, a milk frother. You’ll find that while you stir, it gains viscosity and starts turning into a perfect soy cream.

Start with 0,5% and work yourself up in steps of 0,1% until your cream has reached the desired viscosity.
So, if you have 100g of Soy Sauce, add 0,5g of Xanthan. Stir for a while and check the viscosity.
If you aren’t satisfied with the result, add 0,1g and continue stirring. And so on. Don’t go too high though. Be patient when you stir. It takes a bit of time for the effect to kick in.
For a perfect viscosity I find that 1% is sufficient for most pastes.

The absolute limit should be 2%, i.e. a max. of 2g Xanthan Gum on 100g of Liquid.
This is still far below the limit where it would act as a laxative.

Please make sure to use an extremely fine scale. Just remember that you apply Xanthan Gum in steps of 0,1g. If you are just 0,05g off, that would be 50%!
Your scale should therefore be precise to a hundredth of a gram.

When you’re done you can fill the cream into a squeeze bottle. This can be used for storing your cream in the fridge for a few days and makes it really easy to apply it to your meal.

Another good example is Balsamico Vinegar.
I’m sure you know these “Balsamico Creams” you can buy in the shops. Guess what…if you’re lucky, they’re only 40% sugar, often more.
Check out this example of a Balsamico Cream I found in Italy. Granted, it’s cheap. But 41% sugar and 277 calories per 100g, really?

I covered the name of the manufacturer as it doesn’t really matter. Basically they are all the same.

Do yourself a favour. Buy a proper Balsamico di Modena, add a little Xanthan Gum (0,5%…, raise percentage as described above) instead of this convenience-stuff.

Look at the picture below.
This real Balsamico has only 84 calories/100g and 15% sugar, i.e. a third of the ready made cream.

So, here is how it’s done.

What we need:
– Balsamico
– Xanthan Gum
– Fine Scale (1/100th gram)
– Milk Frother
– Squeeze Bottle

First of all, weigh the Balsamico you’re going to use. In my example this is 50g.

Now add 0,2g of Xanthan Gum by sprinkling it delicately over the Balsamico.
Xanthan Gum tends to form lumps. The looser you sprinkle it the less lumps you will have.

Add Xanthan Gum in steps of 0,1g and use a milk frother to stir it into the Balsamico until the viscosity is right.

After some time you will notice that the viscosity of the Balsamico increases.

When you’re done and the creaminess is right, fill it into a squeeze bottle. Also, try it.
Yes, it’s much less sweet than one of those ready made Balsamico Creams. But hey, it’s vinegar.
It’s supposed to taste like vinegar.
This is the real thing.
On the picture you can actually see the viscosity of this Balsamico.

Now use the Squeeze bottle to apply it to your dish. Because of the viscosity you can achieve great effects here.

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