Have you ever wondered where you could get a vegan marshmallow? Well, someone has, and it seems someone has developed one, thanks largely to gums.
Gums have a variety of applications in food and beverages, and ingredients companies such as Gum Technologies, Tucson. Ariz., are busy filling the pipeline with new gum products that can do more than ever.
Marshmallows roasted over a fire make for a delightful summer treat, but because marshmallow is typically made with gelatin, some consumers have kept away from the campfire.
"Another new system, which incorporates gums with soy fiber and starch, is our Coyote Brand GumPlete SCS -CN 506 which is effective in replacing gelatin in a vegan marshmallow," says Joshua Brooks, vice president of sales and marketing with Gum Technology. "It promotes the structure and texture of the gelatin used in marshmallows while creating improved aeration. This is very popular right now as the halal market has grown globally."
Gums can add structure and strength (think stronger coating shell formation for confections), they can add mouthfeel to beverages and, in certain combinations, they can act as an emulsifier. They can also help stabilize foods by controlling water movement.
"Almost all gums are natural – they come from seeds, seaweed, tree exudates or plants," Brooks says. "Even those that are not considered natural come from natural sources. Cellulose gums and cellulose gels come from wood pulp or cotton linters. Whole Foods Market has almost all gums listed on the accepted list."
Another new use for gums is as an adherent, says Maureen Atkins, technology manager with TIC Gums, White Marsh, Md.
"Several customers came to us with the issue of binding particulates onto their products," Atkins notes. "We used this information to develop a new product, Add-Here CSA, to address not only this problem but several other key issues as well."
According to company literature, use of this product can result in gains of 40 percent or more particulates on finished products. That equates to measurable cost savings when a processor no longer needs to over-apply particulates in order to achieve the desired quality. Add-Here is a cold water-soluble hydrocolloid system that easily disperses, quickly hydrates and can be efficiently applied.
Traditionally, gums have played a major role as stabilizers that make it possible for packaged foods to be shipped and sold at ambient temperatures.
"Gums are wonderful agents for increasing shelf life and adding additional stability during processing, packaging and shipping," Atkins says. "Because they are able to manage water so efficiently, gums such as guar, xanthan, and CMC [carboxy methyl cellulose] are excellent additions to baked goods, frozen foods, or sauces where long term control of water is critical to product acceptability."
A tried and true feature of gums is their ability to emulsify sauces and dressings. TIC Gums has focused those properties with a pair of blended products sold under the brand name Saladizer.
The combination of gums in Saladizer FB-50 provides a product developer with the ability to match the viscosity of a full-fat control, while overcoming deficiencies normally associated with single-ingredient solutions. One textural attribute often linked with building viscosity is an undesirable increase in cohesiveness. TIC says the Saladizer FB-50 helps control this, allowing a fat-free spicy honey mustard dip to disperse and coat the mouth in a similar manner as a full-fat control product.
While food formulators are well aware of the common uses for gum, consumers until recently found gums to be a bit of mystery. But that is changing, says Gum Technology's Brooks.
"Hydrocolloids have become somewhat trendy," he says. "On the Food Network, chefs have featured flavor-infused spherical shapes using sodium alginate and many other gums to create amazing re-formed foods. Famous chefs are using gums in their restaurants to create gastronomical delights, and xanthan and guar gums are now being sold on supermarket shelves."
When a customer was having an issue with protein degradation in its yogurt powder, Gum Technology was able to provide a solution with a new product -- Coyote Fi ST-0308.
"It incorporates a specific soy fiber with tara gum," Brooks said. "The problem was the yogurt powder started to break down as it was hydrated and with other ingredients where the pH was low. The dairy proteins were precipitating out. The Coyote Fi ST-0308 was not only able to neutralize the protein, but also allowed for a smoother texture."