Xanthan gum is one the gums used in ice cream making. Pastry chefs and food industries around the world use a combination of gums to stabilise the ice cream mixture and create the creaminess and mouthfeel they want.
Xanthan gum is the only gum which when used on its own, it creates a terrific ice cream texture; all other gums need to be combined with at least one more.
Most gums may be hard to find and expensive, but xanthan gum is widely used in gluten-free baking, so it is often available at the grocery stores (the baking aisle), at specialty shops or online. This makes it the easiest to find.
One more thing to love in xanthan gum is that you do not need much heat to use it; xanthan gum fully hydrates at approx. 52ºC/ 125ºF, whereas all other gums need to be added to the ice cream mixture at 85ºC / 185ºF. This makes xanthan gum the most convenient in using it, as it requires less cooking over the stovetop.
Xanthan gum creates a lovely ice cream body which churns beautifully, melts uniformly and keeps well in the freezer.
To add xanthan gum in your ice cream mixture follow these steps:
Note that the ice cream mixture doesn’t thicken during blending. It will thicken slightly as it cools.
You can adjust the quantity of the xanthan gum in the ice cream recipe to your liking, depending on the texture you want to achieve:
When using xanthan gum for ice cream making, you need to bring the ice-cream mixture to the right temperature (approx. 45ºC-62ºC/ 113ºF-143ºF) before adding the gum. At this temperature, xanthan gum dissolves without clumping, fully hydrates during blending, and effectively stabilises the ice cream mixture.
If you do not have a thermometer, you can use a simple and foolproof method to bring the mixture to the right temperature without using one, which I have developed over the years. How does it work? Thanks to physics, you can calculate the temperature of a mix of liquids with different temperatures. But to begin with, you need two temperatures that you do not need a thermometer to measure.
Luckily, there are two temperatures in a modern home which are always the same:
What we do is divide in half the mixture that we want to stabilise with the xanthan gum; half of the mixture must be boiling hot and the other half fridge-cold. When you blend the two halves together, the blend instantly reaches approx. 52ºC/ 125ºF; you then sprinkle the xanthan gum and blend for two minutes to fully hydrate.
That works every time, and it is an easy way to use xanthan gum without a thermometer. And fear not for minor differentiations in the above temperatures, as xanthan gum is quite forgiving. In fact 52ºC/ 125ºF is the temperature I prefer for convenience; xanthan gum works anywhere between 45ºC-62ºC/ 113ºF-143ºF.
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