Homemade Gluten

Posted December 20th, 2006 by s5

Makes almost 4 cups raw gluten.

Let me introduce you to seitan and other highly metamorphic concoctions! Homemade gluten has so many uses and can transform into such a variety of textures and flavors that it is really worth spending two or three hours once or twice a month to make a big batch to have on hand in either the refrigerator or freezer. It is also a great deal of fun to make and always surprising the first time to see plain, whole wheat flour suddenly metamorphose into a stretchy, gum-like substance, which again transforms into myriad “meaty” textures. Basically gluten is wheat protein and is isolated by first mixing water and flour together to make a dough, then washing away the starch and bran. Raw gluten can be baked, fried, stewed, or boiled, and will come to resemble ground meat, turkey, roasts, etc. If flavored properly, it is delicious and will surprise your guests.

The Chinese have used gluten in vegetarian cooking for centuries. In the United States, gluten is most commonly found in the form of “seitan,” where gluten is stewed with soy sauce and stock until it becomes a dark, rich, chewy substance.

Ingredients

3 lbs. or more high-gluten whole wheat flour
3 cups or more water

or

2 1/2 cups instant gluten flour
2 cups water

Method

Basic Raw Gluten: The recipe here is for about 3 pounds of flour, but if your bowl will hold more, make more since the work is all the same. The important point to remember is to use a high-gluten whole wheat flour. Whole wheat pastry flour will not give you the same results. If you’re in doubt, ask for the best flour for bread baking – it has the highest gluten content.

Place the flour in a large bowl and add the water while stirring constantly. Add enough water to make a very firm dough-it should be much firmer than bread dough. Allow this to sit for at least 1 hour. No kneading or setting overnight is necessary.

Place the bowl containing the dough in the sink. Fill it with tap water and begin to massage the dough. The water will grow very white and milky at first as the starch rinses out. This liquid can be saved and used in place of arrowroot or cornstarch to thicken sauces and such. It will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator. It you don’t save it, discard the water as it gets cloudy and fill the bowl with fresh water. Keep filling with fresh water, massaging the dough and discarding the water for about ten to fifteen minutes until the water grows gradually clear. During this process as the starch and bran get washed away, the dough will shrink in size and at one point may appear to be falling apart completely. In the end it will all congeal into one stretchy mass. When it looks like you have a giant wad of well-chewed bubble gum, you have transformed flour into raw gluten. You can now prepare it into a number of delectable substances.

Although a bowl is all that is really necessary to produce raw gluten, a plastic or steel colander (not wire mesh) can be a great help, especially at the stage when the gluten feels as if it is disintegrating. The water can be poured off through the colander and the colander will catch any loose bits of gluten.

How To Use Vital Wheat (Instant) Gluten Flour: If you don’t mind skipping the magic show of transforming wheat flour into gluten, you can greatly expedite the process by simply using instant gluten flour (vital wheat gluten). All you need to do is mix with water, and voila! Instant raw gluten appears. Actually, there is even an advantage here, since seasonings and flavorings can be mixed right into the flour with the water, yielding a tastier product. (Instant gluten flour is available in natural food stores or by mail order.)

To make raw gluten from instant gluten flour, simply combine the flour with the water. Mix well. Part of the water may be replaced by stock, soy sauce, miso, tomato paste, liquid aminos or another liquid flavoring agent. Various herbs, spices and other seasonings can be added to the liquid before you add it to the flour.

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