Tara, the seed of a plant from the same galactomannan-bearing family as guar, yields food gums with similar functional properties to guar, according to Josh Brooks, vice-president, sales, for Gum Technology. He answers questions about gum blends and usage levels in baked foods and snacks.

Baking & Snack: How are your gums and hydrocolloids typically used in bakery formulations? Are there any out-of-the-ordinary applications that bakers should consider?

Josh Brooks: There are a number of Coyote Brand gums and stabilizers which Gum Technology offers to the bakery and snack industry. Individual gums such as xanthan, tara gum, guar, fenugreek gum, alginate, konjac and carrageenan can all be used in baked goods to help the baker solve a variety of issues. Typically, combining one or more of these individual gums creates a more highly functional stabilizer. One system in particular, Coyote Brand Stabilizer ST-101 which combines xanthan and guar, offers a more highly functional synergy than the individual gums do alone. This particular xanthan and guar blend improve texture and dough characteristics, improves cell structure in the finished product, retains moisture and therefore extends shelf life. Coyote Brand Stabilizer ST-101 is incorporated at very low usage levels — typically at 0.05 to 0.35%. It is easily mixed in with the flour so it disperses and hydrates without creating fish eyes or lumping. Its moisture binding capabilities allow for an extended shelf life in that staling is slowed; the gums seem to counteract the starch retrogradation in the muffins and cakes. Furthermore, since the moisture migration is contained, this is also an excellent product to prevent sugar bloom. Controlling moisture also allows for freeze thaw stability and extended shelf life in frozen baked goods.

What should a formulator know about these materials and their usage levels? Are there limits to their use? How must they be labeled in the ingredient listing on packages?

Any baker working with gluten-free applications knows that working without gluten is problematic. Coyote Brand Stabilizer ST-101 replaces the elasticity of the gluten making the dough or batter easier to work with and also provides structure that creates gas entrapment allowing the dough to rise. The stabilizer imparts an appealing texture to the finished product versus what might have been a “cardboard” like baked good.

Other combinations of gums work well together to stabilize icings, fondants, glazes and fillings. Konjac and tara gums react synergistically in Coyote Brand KT-MS to provide a creamy and smooth texture in cheesecakes and cream pie fillings. Used at very low usage levels, there is no gumminess and a clean mouthfeel. Carboxymethylcellulose and acacia gums combine well in fondants to improve pliability and prevent the fondant from drying and cracking. Agar and locust bean gums work well together in glazes to prevent drying, and since agar has a high melting point, glazes are stabilized especially as they sit under a heat lamp.

As more and more gums are becoming trendy, finding themselves on the Whole Foods Market list of approved products, for example, label declarations including xanthan, guar, tara gum, konjac and more are becoming more accepted by the consumer. In fact, xanthan and guar gums can be purchased in the baking section in most supermarkets.

Looking specifically at guar, presently in very tight supply, what do you advise bakers seeking an alternative to this gum?

As guar gum is being used more and more by the oil industry as a drilling aid providing lubrication and suspension of sand particularly in fracking, it has become tighter in supply. Nobody is sure how high the cost of guar will go. This makes the use of blends more sensible as a hedge against upward pricing. Typically, synergistic blends such as ST-101 can be used at an overall lower usage level than guar (or xanthan) by themselves.

Another alternative to guar gum is a gum which is in the same seed family of galactomannans. In the event that guar continues to move higher to a mid $3-to-$4 range, tara could be a good substitution in many applications at a comparable price. Tara gum shares similarities to guar, in that it is cold water hydrating and it provides excellent moisture retention, cell structure and texture. Because tara gum also combines well with starch, the starch and tara blend in Coyote Brand GumPlete ST—FF-203 offers stability in fruit fillings, preventing, among other things, moisture absorption into spongy cakes. It also prevents the fruit filling from flowing and becoming too molten during heating.