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Gums are polysaccharides produced by plants. Some are used as food additives by food industry. Gums are natural gelling agents and thickeners. They are able to increase the viscosity of solutions. Examples are agar, made from seaweed, locust bean gum and guar gum.

Resins are viscous liquids secreted by trees that can close up wounds of the tree. The resin of some trees may also be used to gel or thicken foods. Examples are Gum arabic and mastix, a chewing gum made from pistachio resin that was used in Ancient Greece.

A further use of resin in foods is the production of the Greek Retsina wine. It has the resin of Aleppo pines added to give the wine its special aroma.

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Gums and resins in Australia

In Australia gums and resins are part of the traditional diet of Aboriginal people. Light-coloured resins of several acacia, allocasuarina and ironwood species are edible and a good source of carbohydrates. They may be plucked and eaten straight from the tree. While some of these resins taste relatively neutral, others are sweet like honey and are popular as a sweet with children and adults alike. The resin is sometimes mixed with water to form a jelly or sweetened with nectar and mixed with water for sweet drinks. In desert areas these resins are also known as bush lollies.

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