Video Series: Konjac & Inulin, Root Gums
Videos in the Basics of Food Gums Series
In this episode, we'll be looking at the category of Food Gums known as Root Extracts. In our first video, we provided a little background on food gums as a whole. If you'd like to watch that video for a quick introduction, click the link in this video or in the description below to check it out.
Root extract gums are one of the more interesting gums in our series. In general, several gums could be included in this category, like for example Inulin, but only one fits the bill perfectly and that's Konjac. Root extracts have a lengthy history and can be traced back for centuries. In the case of Konjac its been utilized for over 1500 years for both food and medicinal purposes. In 1846 a book was published containing almost a hundred recipes using Konjac, proving just how useful this root extract has been for the last millennium.
Earlier we mentioned Inulin, and although it's not technically an extract in this category, it's still an important ingredient to cover. Inulin's main job in food products is to provide a source of fiber. Sources for commercial Inulin fiber include plants like Agave, Chicory, and Jerusalem Artichoke. Inulin can also be found in more common fruits and vegetables like bannanas or asparagus. As we all know, fiber is an essential part of any diet and many of the hydrocolloids we've mentioned are an excellent source of additional fiber.
Konjac is the main root extract source in this category. It's also one of the more interesting hydrocolloids that we discuss in this series. It has a great many benefits both for food and health applications. It produces the strongest viscosity of all the commercial gums, it's cold water soluble, which is important for food developers, and helps stabilize food that experiences freeze-thaw cycles. The other fascinating aspect of Konjac is the numerous health benefits which come from glucomannan, the main component that makes up the Konjac root. Glucomannan accomplishes many things like assisting in satiety, helping with intestinal health and the lowering harmful cholesterol. You can find Konjac fiber in a number of products such as Konjac noodles, made solely from konjac flour.
So why might you find Konjac in your favorite sauce? Konjac is a superior thickener and when added to gravies or sauces, it helps to achieve the desired texture and thickness. It also has outstanding versatility in working with other gums which gives developers even more options for creating the perfect product.
If there's more learning you'd like to do on food gums, then check out this book by Andrew Hoefler called "Hydrocolloids". Also, there are some online journals you can reference and again, they can get technical but don't let that slow you down.
We hope you found this video helpful and perhaps presented a new perspective into the world of Food Science. Thanks for watching.