Xanthan gum is a special carbohydrate that results when xanthomonas campestris
bacteria ferments glucose. First discovered by USDA scientists in 1950, it is now used extensively in food processing and in gluten free foods (especially gluten free baking).
Xanthan gum is very adaptable thickener that will work in most liquids. It is very powerful, so only a little is needed for most applications. Liquids thickened with it are “psuedoplastic” - this means that, like ketchup, they thin when stirred or shaken, then re-thicken at rest.
In the food industry, xanthan gum is used as a thickener and a stabilizer. It keeps salad dressings from separating on the shelf and makes them cling to greens when poured, without feeling heavy in the mouth. It is also used in syrups, canned goods, frozen foods, sauces, soups, baked goods, powdered juices, etc.