Locust bean gum

What is it?

Locust bean gum (aka carob or E410) is a thickening and stabilising agent extracted from the seeds of the carob tree which grow in Mediterranean countries. It has been known for its thickening properties since ancient times but it was only in the 20th century that it was used commercially. Locust bean gum is a polysaccharide made of long chains of sugar molecules. It should not be confused with the pods which have a sweet, chocolatey flavour.

How does it work?

When used alone, even at low concentrations, it acts as a thickener – its long chains act to impede the movement of water molecules, thickening the liquid.

When small quantities of locust bean gum and xanthan gum are used together, the two gums show synergistic viscosity. At higher concentrations, a gel can be formed.

The addition of locust bean gum to a kappa carrageenan gel produces an elastic texture and prevents the gel from losing liquid .

Locust bean gum helps prevent ice crystals from forming in ice cream, making the final product smoother. When it is added to pastry fillings, it helps prevent water from leaking out of the fillings, keeping the pastry crisp.

Locust bean gum can also be used in gluten free recipes to replace the gluten.

How it should be used?

A solution to be thickened with locust bean gum needs to be heated to around 80-90°C before the gum is added to ensure that it fully dissolves. Locust bean gum is generally not affected by the presence of ions (e.g. salt) or pH, but will degrade at pH extremes at higher temperatures.

Who uses it?

Domenic Chiarmonte – Match – Ontario

Elizabeth Falkner – Citizen Cake – San Francisco

Michael Laiskonis – Le Bernardin – New York