Through Thick and Thin

Gums are hydrocolloids: water-soluble, high molecular weight macromolecules that bind large amounts of water. Their varied functions include controlling viscosity, extending shelflife, enhancing mouthfeel or texture, controlling crystallization, suspending particles, retaining moisture, forming gels, binding and emulsifying properties, preventing syneresis, enhancing spreadability, acting as a fiber source, creating bulk and reducing calories and fat. Allen Freed, president and CEO at Gum Technology Corporation, discussed the functions and properties of hydrocolloids.

Adding gums to a liquid can be tricky. In order to achieve efficient dissolution of a gum, each particle needs to remain a separate entity. This can be achieved by using hydrocolloids with a large particle size (100-500microns or 150-35mesh); dispersing the gum in another liquid such as vegetable oil; pre-mixing with another powdered ingredient to isolate the particles from each other; and adding the powder slowly during high shear mixing.

Xanthan is the gum most widely used for sauces, dressings, dry mixes and still beverages. Xanthan is salt, acid and heat-resistant, and is an excellent overall suspending agent. Xanthan shows synergy with guar gum.

Guar gum is an inexpensive, cold water-hydrating, heat-tolerant, acid-resistant and soluble fiber source. Guar adds cling to marinades, provides viscosity to instant sauces, soups and gravies, and reduces starch pastiness in sauces. In ice cream, guar reduces crystal size.

Locust bean gum (LBG) requires heat to become viscous. LBG is excellent at controlling syneresis in frozen foods and often is used in combination with carrageenans. LBG also is synergistic with xanthan and used to control crystallization in soups and sauces and for texture and syneresis control in cream cheese.

Tara gum is a cross between guar gum and LBG, with a viscosity less than guar gum but greater than LBG. Synergistic with xanthan and carrageenans, it is used to control syneresis in barbecue sauces, hot and cold sauces, gravies and cheese products.

Other hydrocolloids include fenugreek, gum Arabic, tragacanth, alginates, propylene glycol alginate, carrageenans, agar, pectin, microcrystalline cellulose, carboxymethyl cellulose and konjac.

“Gums 101,” Allen Freed, Gum Technology Corporation,,

Savory Sauces and Marinades

Over 5,000 years ago, Egyptians used yeast to produce beer and bread. What may have started as a natural contaminant eventually became part of traditional food preparations. Microorganisms in food are critical to the flavor of cheese, beer and wine, bread and fermented meats. Otis Curtis, business development manager for DSM Food Specialties USA Inc., and Lynn Dornblaser, director of Chicago-based Mintel Global Solutions Group, explained the functionality of living yeast in foods as well as the market growth of foods containing yeast and yeast extracts.

Yeast contributes to gas production (carbon dioxide) for leavening, texture development (through enzyme activity), preservation and “entertainment” (organic acids and ethanol). Yeast extracts, which are created by enzymes that break down yeast, contribute flavor through free amino acids, nucleotides, peptides, organic acids, minerals and other components.

The major flavor enhancement that yeast extracts add to foods is termed “umami.” Often considered the fifth fundamental taste, umami is described as “sweet/salty,” “savory” and “brothy,” with tactile properties of “mouth-filling,” “mouth-watering,” and “meaty.” The umami experience is provided by free amino acids such as glutamic acid as well as 5’nucleotides, peptides, organic acids, minerals and other flavor compounds. Umami contributes to overall flavor impact, increased mouthfeel and satisfaction, improved product preference and reduced salt and fat usage.

Other umami-providing ingredients on the market include monosodium glutamate (MSG), nucleotides such as inosinates and guanylates (I+G), hydrolyzed plant or vegetable proteins (HPP or HVP), and food ingredients like mushrooms, fish sauce, soy sauce, seaweed and cheese. These ingredients possess benefits and limitations, depending on their application.

Trend Tracking Tools

Mintel International’s GNPD tracks new products around the world, which can contribute to understanding of why flavor and other ingredient trends are occurring as well as providing hints at future opportunities. For the presentation at this conference, new product introductions with several umami-providing ingredients were quantified in the years 2003 to June 2006.

The U.S. leads the market for the number of products containing autolyzed yeast extracts by a significant margin. The U.S. accounts for about 25% of all introductions. Not surprisingly, introductions are primarily in the meals, soups and seasonings categories, which together account for 60% of all introductions globally. From 2003 to June 2006, there were 2,548 introductions of products with autolyzed yeast in the U.S., 1,558 in the U.K., 561 in Canada, 446 in Japan, 444 in Germany and 4,513 in all other countries, with a total of 10,070 introductions during this time period.

Introductions of products containing HVP center on the U.S. at 1,052 introductions (almost a third of the total introductions). Meals have the largest number of introductions with HVPs. For MSG and I+G, considered “enhancement chemicals,” the U.S. leads in introductions with 2,395, but it is perhaps not surprising to see that China follows, although at a distance, with 855 for the same time period as above.

“Harnessing Nature’s Engine: From Yeasts to Yeast Extracts,” Otis Curtis, DSM Food Specialties,, and Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel Customer Global Solutions Group,

—Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor


Gums function best in their ideal temperature, pH, solids and use levels, as shown in the chart below.


Knowing how to utilize various umami ingredients allows developers to maximize benefits while weighing their limitations and cost.