What are they?
Gum tragacanth is a tasteless, odourless, soluble powder made from the sap of the plant known commonly as “goats thorn” and “locoweed”. When the powder is dissolved into a liquid is turns into a gel which can be used as a stabilizer, thickener, emulsifier, texturantand even used in natural medicine as a burn healer. The gum can act as an array of different things including being used as a stabilizer in processed food, beverages and salad dressings. It is also used in pharmaceuticals. Its gel like features can be used as an edible glue in confectionary flowers and in cigar rolling.
Gum Arabic has similar appearance and properties to gum tragacanth and is a cheaper alternative. It is made is to stabilize products with a stronger hold, such as chewing gum, glues, paints, textiles and in bakery products. Gomme syrup is a byproduct of adding the gum to a sugar/water solution of which can used in cocktails and meal replacement drinks to prevent crystallization and provide a smooth mouth feel.
Locust bean gum also known as carob gum is a similar white, odorless powder to the previous gums however the strengths differ. Locust gum can be used a stabilizer and thickener in ice cream, cream cheese and salad dressings.
How are they made?
Gum Arabic is made from Acacia trees throughout Arabia and West Asia. Its gum is obtained through the sap from holes in the tree.
Tragacanth is obtained from the dried sap of different species of the middle eastern legume.
Locust bean is extracted from beans within a pod on the carob tree based in the Mediterranean region.
All three natural gums attained from trees are dried out and ground to get a white, yellow-ish powder with can then be dissolved and used as gums.
How to use them
All three gums can be used as a thickener and stabilizer, however gum tragacanth is a more expensive, concentrated version. All can be dissolved into hot or cold water and used in mixtures such as salad dressings or sauces.