Xanthan Gum is a microbial polysaccharide derived from the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris that is typically found in commercial salad dressings, ice creams and other suspensions or liquid products that require an emulsifier, but it can be bought for home use and is a great way to thicken and stabilize soymilk-based rice milk-based sauces, dairy-free soups and non-dairy ice creams. Produced primarily from cellulose from corn or cabbage, xanthan gum functions similarly to gelatin in recipes with regards to stabilizing suspensions, but it is completely vegan and great for cooking and baking for persons with food allergies and restrictions, especially for those who are omitting dairy, eggs and soy from their diet.
While it may seem expensive at about $10-$12 for 8 ounces, a very small amount goes a long way! To use xanthan gum in your dairy-free recipes, use about 1/8 t. per cup of liquid and combine these in a blender, not by hand, as it will "gum" almost instantly and form clumps if not constantly in motion while it is incorporated into the liquid. For sauces, blending the xanthan gum first with a bit of oil before adding the soymilk or rice milk produces the best taste and texture, as this gives the sauce richness and depth that would normally be achieved by cream, butter or eggs.