Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gum Arabic

Hardened sap of the acacia tree. It is used as a stabiliser in food.

The gum is harvested commercially from wild trees throughout the Sahel from Senegal and Sudan to Somalia, although it has been historically cultivated in Arabia and West Asia. It is collected from naturally occurring extrusions on the bark.


Though many believe that gum is primarily used for chewing, it has many other viable uses. Gum arabic is a type of gum that is used in everything from a food stabilizer to inks and textiles. It comes from the hardened sap of the Acacia Senegal and the Acacia Seyal trees.

This natural gum is usually free of color, odor, and taste. When the sap seeps from the tree and hits the air, it often hardens to form an oval the size of a pigeon's egg. It can almost be fully dissolved in its own volume of water. When sold alone, it can be in the form of syrup, powder, oil, chunks, or pellets.

Sap is grown for commercial use in Sudan, Somalia, Senegal, Arabia, Egypt, West Asia, and other countries. The sub-Saharan region has been given the moniker "the gum belt" for its high volume of gum arabic harvested. Sap trappers stimulate its flow by carefully stripping pieces of the bark once a year without injuring the tree. They are then able to extract the sap for approximately five weeks per year, ten years per tree.



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