Guar gum and its “sister,” locust bean gum (the artist formerly known as carob), are both from the family of seed gums. Both gums are produced by removing the outer coating of a seed, and grinding its endosperm. LBG, as it is commonly referred to, and guar are non-ionic galactomannans, which function as reserve carbohydrates in the cell walls of their parent seeds. Both are efficient thickening agents in water, hence falling into the category of hydrocolloids, or things that help water stick to itself. Both guar and locust bean gum are invaluable in commercial applications such as ice cream, soft drinks, fruit juices, bread and pastry, preserves, instant pudding…and of course, baby food. The yet to be developed commercially, “pocket flan,” would no doubt utilize both of their star power. Guar gum exhibits synergy with xanthan gum to increase viscosity. Locust bean gum makes elastic gels with xanthan gum and fortifies the strength and elasticity of both kappa carrageenan and agar agar.
Locust Bean Gum key attributes: LBG is excellent for freeze/thaw formulations, making it invaluable for frozen dairy applications. Typically, LBG works in a .1 to .3% range, aka 1 to 3 grams per kilo of base formula. Like many of the fairer hydrocolloids, LBG does require a little warmth to activate: 116.5 Fahrenheit to be precise.
Locust Bean fun facts: Interestingly, the Meditteranean is the hub for Locust Bean Gum seed production. Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece provide 70-75% of the world’s total production, as well as the 2 most recent World Cup and European Champions in football.
Many of you may be familiar with initial efforts to market LBG as carob, where it wise widely used as a toasted product to replace cocoa powder. Fewer of you may have utilized LBG in your moonshine experiments, but take note, 100 kilos of LBG can yield up to 24 liters of pure alcohol. Who said thickeners were dull?
Finally, as further evidence of the ecological benefit of locust bean gum planting, government programs utilize lbg for its aid to soil and water conservation, as well as its lovely shade for farm animals, to keep them cool.