Acacia Gum Resin
The Acacia tree grows in a region that stretches from Senegal to Sudan in Africa and cultivated in Arabia and West Asia. Gum arabic, a complex mixture of polysaccharides and glycoproteins, is used primarily in the food industry as a stabilizer.
The Senegal gum acacia is an average sized tree with thorns that grows on the African savanna grassland. Gum arabic fiber is widely used in in many industries as an emulsifier and stabilizer.
Acacia is a very diverse resin that has a multitude of uses, and is commonly used as an ingredient icing, fillings, chewing gum and other confectionary treats.It is also quite often used as a base for burning incense because of its light smell.
In Africa the Masai use a decoction made of the gum resin. Likewise, ancient Egyptians also made use of Acacia for a variety of purposes, as have indigenous Africans, Australians and Indians.
The gum harvest from the various species lasts roughly four or five weeks. About the middle of November, after the rainy season, it exudes spontaneously from the trunk and principal branches, but the flow is generally stimulated by incisions in the bark, a thin strip, several feet in length and several inches wide, being torn off. In about a fortnight, it thickens in the furrow down which it runs, hardening on exposure to the air, usually in the form of round or oval tears, about the size of a pigeon's egg, but sometimes in other shapes, white or red, according to whether the species is a white or red gum tree.
About the middle of December, the harvest begins. The masses of gum are collected -- either while adhering to the bark, or after it falls to the ground -- and the entire product, often of various species, thus collected, is packed in baskets and very large sacks of tanned leather and brought on camels and bullocks to the centres of accumulation and then to the points of export, chiefly Suakin, Alexandria, or - in Senegambia - St. Louis. It is then known as 'Acacia sorts,' the term being equivalent to 'unassorted Acacia.' The unsorted gums show the widest variation as to size of fragments, whiteness, clearness, freedom from adhering matter, etc. It is next sorted or 'picked' in accordance with these differences.
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