LABORATORY: SYNTHESIZED CARBOHYDRATE FOOD GUMS
Natural gums, such as guar, locust bean gum, gum arabic, or carrageenan, often lack one or more desirable properties, such as acid or thermal stability, specific viscosity, ingredient compatibility, availability, organoleptic attributes, or low cost. To achieve these properties and many others, food gums have been manufactured from cellulose and chemically modified to provide specific characteristics in end use. Some common examples are methylcellulose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, and sodium carboxymethylcellulose. These gums can coat, stabilize, suspend, bind, form films, carry flavors, thicken, reduce syneresis, and improve texture and shelf life. Certain natural gums such as alginate can interact with metal ions such as calcium to produce “instant” gels. Such chemistry finds uses in foods such as frozen onion rings made from diced onions and the pimento in pimento-stuffed green olives.