It may sound like a name from a cheesy sci-fi movie, but Xanthan Gum is actually a widely-used thickening agent. In fact, it is legendary for its ability to increase liquid viscosity with just a tiny amount, and is stable throughout a wide range of temperatures and pH. With Xanthan Gum, a little goes a long way. Xanthan Gum is an excellent addition to your favorite sauces and dressings due to its ability to prevent oil separation and to keep solid particles, such as spices, suspended. It lends a smooth texture to many foods, making it a desirable addition to recipes. As little as 1%, can produce a large increase in the viscosity of a liquid.
It can be produced from a range of simple sugars using a fermentation process, and derives its name from the strain of bacteria used in this: Xanthomonas campestris. This is the same bacterium responsible for causing black rot to form on broccoli, cauliflower, and other leafy vegetables.
Xanthan gum, along with guar gum, is one of the main substitutes used in gluten free baking. There is a very strong synergistic effect between Guar and Xanthan gum.