Thickeners are substances that are added to food to improve its consistency. Most often they are indifferent to our health, but among the thickeners used in the food industry, you can also find those whose long-term consumption in large quantities may be the cause of many diseases. It is worth knowing something about thickeners, which can be found on the labels of the most popular products and which we add to food - the more so that natural health alternatives are available in health food stores.
What are thickeners?
Thickeners are macromolecular compounds, swelling (gelling) in water substances that, as a result of dissolution, give viscous and sticky solutions. Their main task is to ensure proper consistency of food products. Although a large part of the thickeners is neutral for our health, it must not be forgotten that some of them work adversely on our body.
Where are the thickeners used?
Thickeners are mainly used in the food industry for the production of, among others, jellies, jams, marmalades and jams, artificial honey, puddings, creams, sorbets and ice cream, jellies, candies, marshmallows, lollipops, margarines, yoghurts, cream, mayonnaise, and sandwich sauces, ketchups and many more. Thickeners are also used in printing for the preparation of printing inks as well as in the cosmetics industry.
Let's also remember that we also use them in everyday cooking - for example when making desserts, ice cream, sauces, fruit preserves, etc. It is worth knowing which of the thickeners available on the market are natural.
Types of thickners
Food additives from this group (thickeners) have the symbols E 400-499 assigned by the European Union. Emulsifiers and thickeners approved for use in Europe is currently sixty-nine. Thickeners can be divided into two main groups, namely natural and chemical.
Natural substances (and therefore those that we can use in the kitchen without worrying about health) include substances such as:
guar gum, about which we have already written HERE
fallow reed, about which we also wrote HERE (link to the entry about the maranage)
Chemical (that is, those to be avoided) are, for example:
mono and diglycerides of fatty acids esterified with acetic (lactic) acid.
Agar-Agar and reed arrowling - one of the best thickens
We have already written about agar-agar HERE, a thickener that is becoming more and more popular and more widely available in our stores. The packaging of some products is under the symbol E-406. Agar-Agar is a natural and healthy thickener and stabilizer, produced by seaweed and naturally occurring marine algae from the Gelidiaceae Gracilariaceae families. Its use is very similar to gelatin, but it is safer than it for health. Agar-Agar being a product of vegetable origin, therefore it is an ideal solution for vegans and vegetarians - why it owes the lion's share of its popularity. This thickener is completely natural, ecological and has no taste and smell, thanks to which it does not change the taste of dishes to which it is added. If you do not know how to thicken the soup, then know that agar-agar is also suitable for this. Agar-Agar is most often used to prepare fruit jellies, jams and preserves, creams and sorbets. On the basis of Agar and milk you can get yogurts, kefirs, puddings or ice cream.
The reedling arrowroot (reed) also gained immense popularity among the threshers, which also does not change the taste and smell of the dishes, and perfectly densifies cakes, ice cream, sauces and soups, for example. In addition, it is an excellent gluten-free flour, which is why it is so willingly chosen - not only by people struggling with celiac disease, allergies or hypersensitivity to gluten.
Thickeners play an important role in our daily nutrition. It is worth choosing those that have a natural origin. Our health and the people closest to us are after all. We invite you to our store, where you will find many natural, healthy thickeners.