Gelling agents are food additives used to thicken and stabilize various foods, like jellies, desserts and candies. The agents provide the foods with texture through formation of a gel. Some stabilizers and thickening agents are gelling agents.
Typical gelling agents include natural gums, starches, pectins, agar-
Alginic acid, sodium alginate, potassium alginate, ammonium alginate, calcium alginate-
Extracts of plants such as konjac and Ficus pumila are also commonly made into jellies and used in many East Asian cuisines.
Many thickening agents require extra care in cooking. Some starches lose their thickening quality when cooked for too long or at too high a temperature, and thickened food may burn more easily during cooking. As an alternative to adding more thickener, recipes may call for reduction of the food's water content by lengthy simmering. When cooking, it is generally better to add thickener cautiously; if over-
Food thickening can be important for people facing medical issues with chewing or swallowing, as foods with a thicker consistency can reduce the chances of choking, or of inhalation of liquids or food particles, which can lead to aspiration pneumonia.
* Denotes no longer in use as an additive
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