ingredient information
Tragacanth Gum
Chias and gum tragacanth are examples of potential new crops for the diversification of U.S. agriculture. The chias are generally unknown to North American agriculturists, but are well known in Mexico as edible cereals and sources of oil. Gum tragacanth of the large genus Astragalus, is widely known in commerce from the Near East, but has not previously been cultivated anywhere, so far as we know The products of these two plant groups have been esteemed by gourmets, but we treat them here as two rich sources of germplasm with unknown breeding potentials. They appear to be worthy of serious cultural investigations and we are slowly increasing seed, which will be available to other researchers from the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. The seeds of chias have been eaten for centuries by native North Americans, either raw or parched. They are used in sauces and as thickening agents. When soaked in water the seed envelops itself in a copious mucilaginous polysaccharide, excellent for digestion, and together with the grain itself forms a nutritious food. Mixed with orange juice the gel-like seeds make a nutritious breakfast and can help to control excess weight. Users report that a glass full of orange juice with a teaspoon of presoaked seeds leaves one feeling full and without hunger until noon. The plant explorer Edward Palmer wrote (1871): "In preparing chia for use the seeds are roasted and ground, and the addition of water makes a mucilaginous mass several times the original bulk, sugar to taste is added, and the result is the much prized semi-fluid pinole of Indians and others—to me one of the best and most nutritive foods while traveling over the deserts