What is guar gum?

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You’ve probably wondered this while looking at the ingredients list of a carton of ice cream, because that’s where most Americans will encounter this substance.  It also shows up in baked goods (especially gluten free ones) & beverages.

Guar gum is the powdered endosperm (energy storage portion) of the guar bean (cyamopsis tetragonolobus I).  It’s a natural substance that’s a remarkably powerful thickener.  In ice cream it’s used to help keep ice crystals small, resulting in a smoother consistency and helping to prevent the ice cream from growing ice crystals in your freezer (as homemade ice creams will often do over time).

In baked goods its thickening power helps keep items from spreading out too far before they set (a particular problem with gluten free items).

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