Let’s talk (again) about psyllium husk

August 21, 2018 7:20 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Rather surprisingly, it’s one of our most popular blogs: Let’s talk about psyllium husk! Perhaps it appeals because – let’s be honest – psyllium husk isn’t something many of us talk about much. And yet, for those in the know, it’s a hugely popular and really useful product.

What exactly is psyllium husk?

Psyllium husk – what’s it good for? Image: Bastique (Cary Bass)

Psyllium husk comes from the psyllium plant – a type of plantain in the banana family. Its seeds have fibrous outer husks, which are able to absorb a lot of water. When you mix the light and powdery husks with water, they form a gel. This is of real benefit in a number of ways: the most famous, perhaps, is the role it can play in gluten-free baking.

Psyllium husk and gluten-free baking

Adding psyllium husk to a gluten-free recipe helps to thicken a mix, ‘stabilise’ the ingredients (keep them together) and hydrate the end result. Gluten-free bakers use both whole and powdered husks for dough and pastry.

A little husk goes a long way! At Naturally Good Food we sell psyllium husk in pack sizes ranging from 200g to 1kg, with dedicated bakers generally interested in the larger sizes. Even if you don’t usually bake gluten-free recipes, you’re likely to come across this ingredient more and more, as people continue to explore ways of eating that aren’t entirely based around gluten-containing grains.

Psyllium husk and fibre

Psyllium husk is also a particularly concentrated source of dietary fibre, which is good news for those whose diets are a little lacking in this element. The husks are not digested in the small intestine, but are partially broken down in the colon, where they promote the growth of ‘good’ bacteria. As the husks swell, absorbing water, toxins and waste, their effect is rather like that of a sponge in the intestinal tract.

For this reason, some people take the husks medicinally, to relieve constipation or irritable bowel syndrome.

Psyllium husk and thickening

Some of our customers sprinkle psyllium husk into smoothies, to add dietary fibre and to thicken them naturally.

No-egg baking

Another use for this product is as a replacement for eggs in baking. It’s not the perfect replacement in all recipes, obviously, but where eggs are used to stabilise and hydrate, psyllium can often do the job very well. If you’re avoiding eggs in your diet, it’s certainly worth a try.

Famous for our psyllium…

We’re recommended as a supplier of psyllium husk in the River Cottage gluten free cookbook, written by Naomi Devlin. Flicking through, you’ll find psyllium included in numerous recipes, such as shortcrust pastry, baguettes, scones, and rich Christmas cake. If you’d like to try some right now, click here to see the various sizes and brands we offer.

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This post was written by Yzanne

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