Cassia gum is a culinary ingredient which is mainly used as a thickener, texturizing agent, emulsifier and moisture retaining agent. This food additive is prepared from the endosperm of cassia tora also known as cassia obtusifolia or senna obtusifolia. Cassia Tora mainly grows in wild regions of the Indian sub-continent. Hot and wet tropical climates are best suited for the growth of this weed. Cassia Tora usually grows to a height of 65 feet and is also known by names such as coffee pod, chakwad, sickle senna and sickle pod.
Cassia gum is derived from the seeds of Cassia tora or cassia obtusifolia which are harvested between the months of November to January. The seeds are chosen through random picking .The manufacturing of Cassia gum involves cleaning of seeds from Cassia Tora. Impurities such as seeds, stones and other farm waste are removed in this process. The step is then followed by splitting and de husking process which leads to removal of germ and husk from the seeds. Once the seed is split, they are turned into powder and dried. The flour derived is known as Cassia gum.
Cassia gum consists of polysaccharide ranging up to 75% molecular weight. These polysaccharide mainly consists of linear chains comprising 1, 4-β-D-mannopyranose units linked with 1,6 α-D-galactopyranose units. Five is to one is the ratio of mannose to galactose and the saccharise compostion is as follows: galactose (15.7% approx.), mannose (77% approx.), and glucose (7% approx.). This additive is related to other gums such as guar gum, tara gum and carob bean gum in terms of chemical properties and structural composition.
The color of Cassia gum ranges from white to yellow and it consists of 6 to 12 % moisture. The fiber content usually varies from 5- 10 %. The gum is odorless and has the tendency of swelling in water and forming high viscous liquid after boiling. The gum forms into a gel when combined with xanthan and carrageenan.
The usage of Cassia gum is approved in Europe and is used as a gelling and thickening agent in pet foods under the Annex of Council Directive. The usage of the gum is also done in air fresheners.
In Japan, it is recommended as a food additive under The Ministry of Health And Welfare Announcement.
Even in United States, the gum has been studied by an expert panel and is used as a thickening agent in human and canned foods for pets.
- For making cheeses – Cassia gum is used in variety of cheeses such as curd cheese, cream cheese, whey cheese and dip cheese. The gum provides texture to these cheeses.
- For making desserts – The usage of Cassia gum is common in ice creams, sherbets, puddings and desserts where its main task is as a thickening or gelling agent.
- For meat dishes – Cassia gum is also used as an ingredient in commercial foods containing meat such as salads, sandwiches, or frozen and canned meats.
- Poultry Items – The usage of gum is also common in foods containing poultry such as salads, sandwich ingredients and other commercially available poultry meals.
- Used in manufacturing of pet food – Cassia gum is used as a gelling agent in the manufacturing of food for dogs and cats. The gum is studied by the panel of experts and is found to be nontoxic for the animals.