Instead, try these natural ingredients to provide these important culinary functions.
Starch is a time-honored way to add body and a smooth mouthfeel to sauce or soup, and it’s used in some desserts and candy. It can be made from many ingredients, including corn, tapioca, and potato. Note that vegetable starches need to be blended in gradually, have a short holding time when reconstituted, and are not freeze/thaw stable.
While not as familiar to Western diners, Guar gum, made from dried guar beans, is commonly used for binding milk solids, flour, oil, and spices together in Indian desserts such as besan ladoo. It can also be found in baked goods and ice cream, and it may be used to thicken, improve texture, and extend shelf life.
Because some of the proteins in eggs attract water while others repel it, they are ideal for emulsifying oil-and-water mixtures. However, note that eggs are a common food allergen and not suitable for vegan recipes. Mustard seeds have a natural coating called mucilage that also attracts water, so mustard can be helpful for emulsifying vinaigrettes.
Gelatin from animal bones or hides can be used to help certain foods set, but it is not suitable for vegetarian dishes and tends to melt when subjected to heat. As another natural alternative, seaweed agar will set gels effectively, and it is much more heat-stable.
DID YOU KNOW?
Guar beans are legumes that are native to Asia. They are eaten whole in some traditional Indian stir-fries, curries, and soups, or turned into the natural guar gum used in many products.