The guar bean or cluster bean is an annual legume, a plant of the pea and bean family. For best growth it requires full sunshine, flashing rainfalls that are moderately frequent, and well drained soil. However, it is extremely drought tolerant and thrives in semiarid regions where most plants perish. It is grown principally in Pakistan and northwestern India, with smaller crops grown in semiarrid areas of USA, Australia and Africa. The most important growing area centres on Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India. Currently India is the source of about 80% of the world production of guar gum, but current demand for it outstrips supply. Thus guar is being introduced into new growing areas.
Guar beans have a large endosperm that contains galactomannan gum, a substance which forms a gel in water. This is commonly known as guar gum and is used in dairy products like ice cream and as a stabilizer in cheese and cold-meat processing.
Another use is as a fibre supplement. After being partially hydrolyzed it is completely soluble in water and soft food. Being approximately 75% dietary fiber, it allows the undetectable addition of fibre to either a foodstuff or diet.
It can also be used in industrial applications such as the paper and textile industry, ore flotation, the manufacturing of explosives and the exploitation of oil and gas reservoirs. Guar gum has also proven a useful substitute for locust bean gum (from carob).