Xanthan Gum Question

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Xanthan Gum Question
I just started using Xanthan gum to thicken sauces since I HAD to start on a diet.  Yes, unfortunately, I like to eat and sometimes a little too much so I need to shed about 70lbs !  One way is to begin limiting my fat intake, pity, as it is what makes food taste wonderful (that and awesome spices and fresh ingredients).

Xanthan gum.  I've been experimenting with it in small doses to attempt to thicken sauces.  It feels a bit slimy on the tongue and does not feel as smooth and velvety as a sauce thickened with roux.  I usually have a sauce with almost every dinner but finding it difficult to get that great flavor with xanthan gum.  Am I simply using too much or would a different thickener be better suited to the task say something like ultratex ?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

PS - anyone know how to make a faux buerre blanc ?
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Xanthan Gum will give you a slimy mouth feel if you use too much. Remember the Xanthan Gum is shear thinning, which means it will be thicker when at rest on you plate of food then when spinning in a blender. Try to use a little less and you should be fine.

UltraTex will also work but you have to use much more of it to thicken a sauce.
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This may help in your quest for lighter sauces.  Sometimes I'll add breadcrumbs to a sauce to thicken it.   Depending on what I want, I'll use either fresh bread, or maybe toast.  It's quick and works rather well, but as we all know; NOTHING can replace butter.

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TMeyer
I am making the cauliflower base soup and have my onions on the stove now.  Where can I purchase Xanthum Gum ?  I am in St. Louis County and we have two different grocery stores that carry a lot of items beyond the basic grocery store.  

Also, is the video of how you finish this soup at Stella on the website?  I have an idea or two of my own but would like to see yours.  One thing I have in mind is trying to incorporate bacon into the soup somehow.

Thanks! 
Jacob Burton's picture
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Try your local health food store. Xanthan Gum is commonly used as an ingredient in gluten free flour. You can also order it from ChefRubber.com, but that's not going to help you today.
TMeyer
Thanks for getting back to me.  I figured I would have to thicken using a different method if was not available at grocery stores.

Again, thanks for the help.
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A small amount of white roux should do the trick. You can also use a little cornstarch slurry.
TMeyer
Usually, I would put the flour in a pan over low heat for a while to "cook off" the flour taste before I make the roux.  Should I not do this because the soup is white?
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I think you're better off making a simple white roux.
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I've also been playing with this after hearing it recommend on this site.

 

Is it better to make a slurry or sprinkle it dry while whisking? I've found that slurry can clump up, as can whisking if I'm not careful. It's also very light and steam/heat convection can blow it around.

 

How much would one use for about 2-3 cups of sauce?

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The one trick with Xanthan Gum is that it needs a good amount of shearing power to full hydrate. The easiest way to use Xanthan Gum is to put the liquid you wish to thicken in a blender and drop the xanthan gum in the vortex created by the blender, a little bit at a time, working the blender speed to the highest setting, until the liquid reaches your desired consistency.

 

A whisk is not enough shearing power which is why the Xanthan Gum isn't fully hydrating and instead forming clumps.

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I’ve experimented with using xanthan gum for emulsifying unfiltered extra virgin olive oil and some of the pasta water left over when making pasta. When I feel a bit more creative, I’ll add something to the mixture, but my goal is to coat the pasta with flavorful olive oil without having it become excessive.

 

I use maybe 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of pasta water and about 1/8 teaspoon of xanthan gum. I use a mini balloon whisk and give my arm a workout for a minute or two and it seems to work fine. I probably use more xanthan gum that needed since using a whisk does not provide as much shearing power as a blender or stick blender. For such a small amount of liquid (one serving), it didn’t seem like there was an alternative.

 

Comments welcome.

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I just tried this a couple of days ago with a chicken soup using a blender per Jacob's directions. About a gallon of soup total, and I took about a cup of the broth and mixed in the blender with ~3/4 tsp of xantham gum. It frothed up into a pale foam and when I mixed it into the soup it looked like it curdled but after stirring it a bit, it settled down into a nice silky texture and the color turned back to normal.

 

It was opaque, kind of like the affect flour would have. It didn't add any taste that I could detect, just the taste of my soup with a perfect texture and thickness.

 

I can't wait to try what GreenBake described!

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So 1/8 tsp for 1/4 cup total is about 8 tsp per gallon, compared to your 3/4 tsp per gallon. That’s about ten times less efficient for my hand whisking. Actually I’m surprised my hand whisking worked as well as it did.

 

Now I’ll see if I can increase the volume (at least 1/2 cup) so I can use an immersion/stick blender. I can then use half of the mixture and keep the other half for the next day.

 

Thanks for your reply and thank you for being part of the Stella Forum!

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Just be aware, I'm an amateur among professional giants. Take what I say with a healthy pinch of salt :)

 

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I've got to ask.

Since you're thickening items such as soups and sauces, why not use a cornstarch slurry, or another starch like potato if you don't want to use a roux?

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One thing I have noticed about corn starch is although I like how it leaves a clear liquid still pretty much clear, it tends to break down if it sits or if you store it.

 

I've never used potato before but flour and roux bring things like flavors and colors to the mix in addition to the texture. Good in the right context but not desirable in every situation.

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For thickening chicken broth have you tried chicken feet or more bones to thicken the stock in the first place.  If natural gelatin is not practical, how about unflavored gelatin powder.  It won't affect the flavor but will thicken and add an unctuous mouthfeel.

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A good egg beater will give substantially better results than a good small balloon whisk. A stick blender / immersion blender will be even better than that.

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Does fresh from the package Xanthan Gum have a scent?

 

I’ve had some for several years and want to know when I should refresh my stock of this stuff. Mine doesn’t smell bad, but it does have a scent.