74 Introduction to Thickening Agents

Learning Objectives

  • Identify and describe thickening agents used in the food service industry
  • Describe the production and properties of thickening agents
  • Describe the function of thickening agents in baking

Two types of thickening agents are recognized: starches and gums. Most thickening agents are of vegetable origin; the only exception is gelatin. All the starches are products of the land; some of the gums are of marine origin.

Bakers use thickening agents primarily to:

  • Make fillings easier to handle and bake
  • Firm up products to enable them to be served easily
  • Provide a glossy “skin” to improve finish and reduce drying


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