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What the heck is vital wheat gluten?

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Vital wheat gluten, also known as wheat gluten or simply gluten, is a protein found in wheat flour. It is made by removing the starch from wheat flour, leaving behind the protein. It is a highly elastic and stretchy substance, and is often used as a binding agent in foods.

There are a variety of uses for vital wheat gluten, including:

  1. As a binding agent in bread making: When added to bread dough, gluten helps to create a structure that can hold the gases produced by the yeast, leading to a softer, more cohesive loaf of bread.
  2. In vegan and vegetarian cuisine: Gluten is often used to mimic the texture of meat in dishes such as seitan, which is made by simmering gluten in a broth made from soy sauce, garlic, and other spices.
  3. As a thickening agent in sauces and soups: Gluten can be used to add body and thickness to sauces and soups, and can also help to stabilize the consistency of these dishes.
  4. In gluten-free baking: Gluten is often used as a substitute for wheat flour in gluten-free baking, as it helps to give structure and elasticity to the dough.
  5. In processed foods: Gluten is often used as a stabilizing agent in processed foods such as snack bars, cereals, and pasta.

It’s worth noting that some individuals have a condition called celiac disease, which makes them intolerant to gluten. For these individuals, it is important to avoid consuming products that contain gluten. However, for the majority of people, vital wheat gluten can be a useful ingredient in a variety of dishes and baked goods.

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