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I'm curious, are any other substances that could substitute for guar gum or xanthan gum in gluten-free baking? Xanthan isn't an option because of allergies, and while guar gum seems to work OK for most things, I'm not a fan of the slick or slimy texture that sometimes results when I have to use a lot of it.

Thanks in advance. :)

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

It's not quite as effective as xanthan gum but I find arrowroot flour works wonders. You can also try locust bean gum or psyllium husk (soak it in water before mixing so that it can dissolve)

Those are more starchey than the gums and are meant to be mixed with amaranth, rice, quinoa, or other more coarse flours it gives you that same "slimey" start that hold the bubbles as the bread cooks. That's generally gone by the time it's cooked.

When you're using guar gum, try to keep the quantity down to about 1% by weight of the dry ingredients. Also give it time to fully hydrate before adding the rest of the ingredients. I normally mix mine in dry with the flour and then add milk or water to get things wet and then leave it for a couple minutes before continuing.

If the gum (or even the arrowroot flour) is properly hydrated it will be more effective in baking. Plus you can use less liquid overall which is good because it's easy to overdo the liquid in GF bread.

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I have arrowroot and psyllium husk - I never thought I could use them in that way but I will experiment. Where could one find locust bean gum? – Heather Kordinak Sep 8 '10 at 14:07
    
Not sure of a chain or online, but I see it from time to time at the same local store that sells xanthan gum in bulk. – Eric Goodwin Sep 8 '10 at 18:35
    
I'll just have to keep my eyes peeled then. Thanks! – Heather Kordinak Sep 8 '10 at 21:28

Carboxymethyl cellulose is a gum that is often used in Australia as a gluten replacement. I sometimes see it in gluten free baking mixes in Canada.

Carboxymethyl cellulose info and raw ingredient.

As mentioned above psyllium husks work. I use it in unleavened breads. Additionally you can use flax meal or chia seeds. I've never used chia, but I like to add flax meal because it ups the fibre which the gluten-free diet tends to lack.

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I'll admit I've never used these in particular, but as others have mentioned, some options include:

  • Locust bean gum,
  • Psyllium husk,
  • Cellulose gum(carboxymethyl cellulose),
  • Flaxseed meal,
  • Chia seed

All of these are thickeners and emulsifiers and can help make a gluten-free dough more elastic(what gluten usually does). If you wanted to, you could make psyllium husk yourself by finding plantains and collecting their seeds. If you live somewhere carob grows, you can also make locust bean gum from its seeds.

Aside from xanthan gum, the most successful gluten substitute I've ever used is glucomannan, or konjac flour. If you've ever heard of shirataki noodles(brand names like "Miracle Noodles" or "Skinny Noodles"), this is what they are made of. Glucomannan is a thickener that easily gels water and aqueous solutions and adds elasticity to doughs and batters. It consists entirely of soluble fiber and, in my experience, works better than xanthan gum as a gluten substitute. Like xanthan gum, though, when using it, be careful not to use too much, as it can keep your baked goods from cooking all the way through. The most I could imagine you'd need is around .5 tsp glucomannan per cup gluten-free flour, but it depends what you're making. I'd recommend substituting it on a 1:1 ratio for xanthan gum if a recipe calls for it and adjusting from there if need be.

Another thing about glucomannan is that, when using it, you may have to decrease baking temperature and increase baking time to better cook whatever you're making fully and evenly. If a recipe calls for 30 minutes at 350 F, you may want to try 40-50 minutes at 275-300 F, testing for done-ness, and leaving it in for longer if need be, then adjust the procedure from your experience for next time.

Glucomannan can be purchased in bags online(possibly under names "konjac flour" or "konjac powder"), or can be found in capsules online or in health stores. If you get capsules just empty them out until you have the amount you need. Assuming you have pure glucomannan capsules(the package will say "pure" or "100%"), the stuff inside is the exact same powder as what you need. Good luck!

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