Gum Acacia: The world's finest natural emulsifier

Gum Arabic in Black Licorice

"As a food additive, it has been extensively tested and appears to be one of the safest for human consumption."

Gum acacia, or gum Arabic, is used primarily in the food industry as a stabalizer. Gum Arabic is unique among the natural gums because of its extreme solubility in water and its lack of taste. In fact, Gum Arabic can be almost completely dissolved in its own volume of water, which is very unusual among substances. As a food additive, it has been extensively tested and appears to be one of the safest for human consumption. Gum Arabic is one of the finest natural emulsifiers, which means it can keep together substances that would normally not mix well. In beverages, for example, gum arabic helps citrus and other oil-based flavors remain evenly suspended in water. In confectionery, such as Chateau D’Lanz and MollyLovesCandy, gum arabic keeps flavors uniformly distributed, helps prevent the crystallization of beet sugar, thickens the mixture, and gives our candies a desirable mouth feel.

Gum Arabic reduces the surface tension of liquids, which leads to increased fizzing in carbonated beverages. Anyone who has seen the reaction achieved by dropping Mentos into diet coke is familiar with this effect.

Similarly, in cough drops and lozenges, gum arabic soothes irritated mucous membranes and helps sooth soar throats. Many dry-packaged products use gum Arabic to enhance the shelf life of flavors.

In addition to its incredibly versatile properties in making candies, gum Arabic is also said to sooth an upset stomach, help with intestinal disorders, treat eye problems, and combat the common cold.

Gum arabic is the hardened sap of the Acacia senegal tree, which is found in the arid lands extending from Senegal on the west coast of Africa to Pakistan and India. The tree is tapped for gum by cutting holes in the bark, from which a product called Kordofan or Senegal gum is exuded. But extracting Gum Arabic from thorn-covered Acacia Senegal trees is not easy. When the amber-colored gum begins bubbling up, farm workers handpick chunks from the trees and sometimes get scratched in the process. These hardened pieces of sap are ground into a powder, filtered to remove bits of thorn or tree that were stuck to the sap, and sold around the world.