Gum Arabic

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Origin:
"tear" formed and dried on the bark of Acacia Senegal tree

Gum arabic, also known as gum acacia is a natural gum exudate made of hardened sap. Its taken from two species of the acacia tree; Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal which are distributed over tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, India, Australia, Central America, and southwest North America. Two countries that are commercially important for the export of gum arabic are Sudan and Chad.

The production begins with the farmer cutting or wounding the plants so that they will weep. The sap exudes, or oozes, where the bark has been cut and then dries into clumps called "tears" . It is then harvested and sold where it is made into a translucent liquid or an amber powder. The quality of gums depend three important concepts:


What is it ?

Technically, gum arabic (acacia senegal) is a very complex, branched polysaccharide that is classed in a group of substances called arabinogalactan proteins.  It is comprised mostly of several different sugar units (galactose, arabinose, rhamnose, and glucuronic acid) and a very small amount of protein. Although these amino acids comprise of only around 1-2% of the total gum, without them it would not function as an emulsifier; the other 98-99% is made of the above mentioned sugars.


What do we use it for ?

Its thickening power is much less than other gums and has emulsifying properties that enables essential oils, like lemon and orange, to be incorporated into soft drinks and soft drink syrups. Gum arabic can be used to bind food substances, like soup and sauces, as well as to smoothen textures, or to hold flavoring. The gum is used in chocolate candies, chocolate glaze, cocoa, gummy candies, marshmallows, as a wine clarifier, marzipan, an aroma encapsulator, and beer.


Additional Information:


Typical Usage:

1% to 40 %. Flavor oil emulsions, at 25%.



<u>Further Reading/Research:</u>

Hydrocolloids: Practical Guides for the Food Industry (Eagan Press Handbook Series), Andrew C. Hoefler,

Martin Chaplin: Gum Arabic, London South Bank University, web page.
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