What In The World Is Guar Gum and Where Do I Buy It?

I have a couple of vegan/vegetarian cookbooks and they feature some of the weirdest (to me) ingredients I’ve ever seen.

  • Guar Gum
  • Xanthum Gum
  • Arrowroot Powder
  • Succanat
  • nutritional yeast
  • slippery elm powder
  • lecithin

Those are just a handful of the odd ingredients I came across leafing through the books recently.

I gotta tell you, reading a recipe with stuff like lecithin and xanthum gum makes me think of a science experiment. It looks like the weird chemical lists on the back of prepackaged foods and that is really not appealing.

I think it is the use of these sorts of ingredients in the cookbooks I have that really turned me off of trying out more vegan/vegetarian food. I never really missed the meat in any of my regular recipes (like a chili or pizza or burrito) but a mom needs to cook more than that every night of the week, every week of the month, and on and and ad nauseum.

Maybe I just didn’t have the luck of being exposed to cookbooks with simpler foods. I just can’t get over the ick factor. Honestly, I don’t care how in love I am with rice pudding, having arrowroot powder and guar gum in the list of ingredients instantly makes it look inconvenient and gross tasting.

And where do you get ingredients like that? I’m pretty sure most of them are not sold at the Bulk Barn.

And, it’s a bit funny, too, looking through those cookbooks because you can totally see each author’s “go-to” ingredients. One author as a think for sea kelp and tamari soy sauce. She puts it in EVERYTHING! Another uses silken tofu and Succanat in everything. I guess I can be like that. Montreal Steak Spice, despite it association with meat, is my go-to multipurpose flavouring agent. I chuck it into potato salad, soups, pasta salads, marinades… When I finally make my own veggie ground round, MSS will probably be the main flavouring ingredient.

What do you think of all these crazy ingredients? Do you have a couple of go-to ingredients that make it into most of your food?


20 Responses

  1. Any hippy dippy food stores near you? I know of some in Toronto, but not in Hamilton. 🙂

    I got How to cook everything Vegetarian” for Xmas and it’s AWESOME. No weirdness…aside from the seitan recipie.

  2. But you almost HAVE to make something called SAY-TAN!

    I don’t know any of those hippydippy stores yet. I don’t know if there are any. Maybe Goodness Me! has that junk.

  3. Hey!. I can tell you that you don’t need these ingredients, and I am not sure why vegan or veg cookbooks have to make it seem so hard for people to make new meals.
    Cooking vegetarian is the most simple thing ever , you just have to walk the isles of the grocery store and look at items and try and think of what you can do with them, or look through non veg cook books and try and find out how you can make meat dishes into meatless dishes or mock meat dishes. It is surprisingly easy and meat cookbooks can be a great source of inspiration . Being veg for 16 years has made me look in the oddest places for something new .

  4. The funny thing is how easy it is to be vegetarian at home. Being vegan is slightly different. I think my baking skills would have to really change to pull it off, but on the whole, even cooking vegan, as long as you cook whole foods and not much prepackaged food, seems pretty easy.

    I’m finding this whole experiment in giving up meat to be so enlightening, exciting and healthy. Poor Sean, though. I’m sure he is wishing for sausages every night and comes home to bean soup of one kind or another.

    Thanks for taking the time to make a comment!

  5. Sean seems to like vegetarian food. He was taking Affinity buffet to task the other day. haha.

  6. I think the best cookbook for a new veggie is Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. His goal in writing is to make it easier for omnivores to eat less meat, so he uses well-known ingredients and concentrates on the basics. I got the book in December and have made some great meals! Also, he goes into detail about the ingredients and has alternative versions of each recipe.

    As for things like arrowroot, etc. I forget how lucky I am to have a health food store nearby, but I agree that buying a giant bag, which I have only used once in one recipe, is totally frustrating.


  7. I very much agree with Paula. Got me that for Xmas. 🙂

  8. Hi mamaloo,

    The guar gum is a product they derive from a Indian bean variety called “Guar” (cluster beans”). I haven’t seen them in my local grocery store. But I can guide you through couple of other ingredients.

    Xanthum gum, Arrow root powder, Nutritional yeast , soy lecitihin can be found in health products or Gluten free products aisle of grocery stores. I have seen them in Asian stores too. Online store of Bobs Red mill carry most of them.

    These are used as egg replacements when you cook or bake with Non wheat products or in egg free recipes.

    I prefer Flax seeds on top of all these egg replacers. you can easily find these seeds in any Indian/Asian store under the name “Alsi Seeds”

  9. New directions Aromatics has many of these products or try bulk food stores…..take care.

  10. Food Grade Guar Gum Powder

    In Food Industry Guar gum is used as gelling, viscosifying, thickening, clouding, and binding agent as well as used for stabilization, emulsification, preservation, water retention, enhancement of water soluble fiber content etc.

    Some food products in which guar gum powder is used:

    * Ice Cream, soft drinks & concentrates, puddings
    * Chocolate milk, flavoured milks
    * Jams, jellies, fruit spreads, jelly sweets
    * Bread, biscuit and other baked foods
    * Ham and sausages
    * Soft cheese and cheese spreads
    * Canned or retorted food of fish and meat
    * Myonnaise, ketchup, sauce and dressings
    * Noodles and pasta

    In Frozen Food Products: Guar gum reduces crystal formation, act as a binder & stabilizer to extend shelf life of Ice-cream.

    In Baked Food Products: Guar gum provides unparallel moisture preservation to the dough and retards fat penetration in baked foods.

    In Dairy Products: Guar Gum improves texture, maintains uniform viscosity and color.

    In Sauces & Salad preparations: Guar gum acts as a water binder in sauces & salad dressings and reduces water & oil separation.

    In Confections: Guar gum controls viscosity, bloom, gel creation, glazing & moisture retention to produce the highest grade confectionary.

    In Beverages: Guar gum provides outstanding viscosity control and reduces calories value in low calories beverages.

    In Pet Food: Guar gum forms gels & retains moisture, acts as a thickening, stabilizer and suspending agent for veterinary preparations.

  11. you can order / buy guargum at http://www.guargum.com.au in Australia.

  12. Guar Gum is classified as E412 Food Additive. We can find guar gum in Food , Cosmetics etc. it is a bio-polymer. Guar Gum’s derivatives have peculiar properties, therefore used in various Industries as per need.

  13. health foods that are organice and have natural source should be the stuff that we should take .,,

  14. This si Mohamamd Aamir Naeem Guar Technologist and Consultant. i have 22 years expereince in Guar Gum Manufacturing Industries as managerial Posts. also having very vast research on Gaur Gum . i ahve my own formulation on Guar. also having complete fesibility on Guar Gum new Factory also having local and export Buyer’s.

    • As salam o alikum. im making guar gum in lahore and i want to sail out throurh u.

      tell me what is the rate of guar gum…..
      my cell number is 0315-6668414

  15. I have No idea what guar gun is

  16. What if you have guar gum and want to sell?

  17. What I hate is when I go to make a recipe and find there are 50 ingredients, (depressing right from the get go), and three that I have never heard of. So I think, maybe I’ll just not put them in, but then I find I need between 1 and 2 1/2 cups of these unknown ingredients. This makes me deflated before I even make the recipe. Or sometimes I need 1/2 a teaspoon of something, it costs $12 to buy a jar/ package of it, and I never use a 10th of it before the expiry date. I really like the “five ingredient recipes”.

  18. Or I find a recipe with a really good looking picture, then I find it has something in it I really hate, like 1 1/4 cup of RAISINS! YUCK!!

  19. On the raisins, once I bought a health muffin, not realising that it had raisins in it. I took them all out as I ate the muffin, counted them, and found that there were 86 raisins in the one muffin!!! Unbelievable! How could they do that and call it a “health” muffin? It made me sick.

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