Xanthan gum was a first of a new generation of polysaccharides produced by biotechnology. When was discovered in the late 1950s, it has immediately appeared as a valuable alternative to natural gums.
Of course production by biotechnologies has a number of advantages like: very little dependency from external factors, as weather conditions, more consistent quality and performance of the texturizing agent, and cost not or little influence by political and economical environment.
Xanthan is produced by aerobic fermentation of Xanthomonas Campestris, the molecule is an eteropolysaccharide based on a backbone of glucose (same as cellulose) and with side chains containing two mannose and one guluronic acid.
Xanthan molecules in water form a single or double semi rigid coils, consequently the properties of Xathan Gum are assimilated to the dispersions of semi rigid micro elements.
Water solutions of Xanthan gum shows very high viscosity even at low concentrations, and a very strong pseudoplastic behaviour and high tixotropicity, this is the most remarkable feature of this gum.
This high shear thinning behaviour is more pronounced than in all other hydrocolloids and is due to the semi rigid conformation of the Xanthan polymer, which is more sensitive to shear than gums being more random structured.
Xanthan performances are synergistic with LBG and Guar, with Alginates, Carrageenans and also starches.
Xanthan is commonly used in dressings and sauces, giving the right structure and preventing separations, it has also an high suspension capacity in liquids. It is used also in dairy products but in combination with other hydrocolloids. Because of its ease of hydration Xanthan is appreciated in instant mixes and it is also used in fruit preparation, thanks to its high stability at low pH.