Group: E400–E499 (thickeners, stabilisers, emulsifiers)
Guar gum, also called guaran, is a galactomannan polysaccharide extracted from guar beans that has thickening and stabilizing properties useful in food, feed, and industrial applications. The guar seeds are mechanically dehusked, hydrated, milled and screened according to application. It is typically produced as a free-flowing, off-white powder.
The largest market for guar gum is in the food industry. In the US, differing percentages are set for its allowable concentration in various food applications. In Europe, guar gum has EU food additive code E412. Xanthan gum and guar gum are the most frequently used gums in gluten-free recipes and gluten-free products.
In baked goods, it increases dough yield, gives greater resiliency, and improves texture and shelf life; in pastry fillings, it prevents "weeping" (syneresis) of the water in the filling, keeping the pastry crust crisp. It is primarily used in hypoallergenic recipes that use different types of whole-grain flours. Because the consistency of these flours allows the escape of gas released by leavening, guar gum is needed to improve the thickness of these flours, allowing them to rise as a normal flour would.
In dairy products, it thickens milk, yogurt, kefir, and liquid cheese products, and helps maintain homogeneity and texture of ice creams and sherbets. It is used for similar purposes in plant milks.
For meat, it functions as a binder.
In condiments, it improves the stability and appearance of salad dressings, barbecue sauces, relishes, ketchups and others.
In canned soup, it is used as a thickener and stabilizer.
It is also used in dry soups, instant oatmeal, sweet desserts, canned fish in sauce, frozen food items, and animal feed.
The FDA has banned guar gum as a weight loss pill due to reports of the substance swelling and obstructing the intestines and esophagus.