Heard of vital wheat gluten but unsure on how to use it? This detailed guide covers questions like what is it, how to use and where to buy this versatile flour. This post also contains 20 best vegan recipes using wheat gluten, from meaty seitan to fluffy breads!
Whether if you are a vegan or not, I am pretty sure you have came across this ingredient at least once, usually in the baking breads or in the making of mock meats or seitan.
🤷♀️What is vital wheat gluten
Vital wheat gluten, or also sometimes known as wheat gluten or gluten flour, is a flour that is extremely high in wheat protein - gluten. To put it into context, normal all purpose flour contains about 9-11% protein, bread flour with 11-13%, while a whopping 70% of wheat gluten is made from protein.
This flour is made by first hydrating wheat flour in order to activate gluten protein. Further processing is needed to remove everything else, leaving only gluten behind. The mixture is then being dried and ground into fine powder.
🛒Where to buy
Gluten flour can be found in most well-stocked groceries, usually in the baking or health food aisle. You might also find them at specialty stores or heath food store, or you can order them online through retailer like Amazon.
I personally really love the Bob's Red Mill ones. Other recommended brands to get includes King Arthur Flour and Anthony's.
🍎Is it healthy?
Healthy is a pretty relative term, and can mean different thing to different people. But according to Healthline, seitan, which is made from gluten flour, is a relatively nutritious food that is packed with protein and minerals.
For starters, a ¼ cup (about 1 ounce) serving contains 23g of protein and 104 calories. For comparison, an ounce of chicken only contains about 8g of protein! It also contains little to no fat, and is free from saturated fat.
Due to its low carbohydrate content, it might also be suitable for those who are on a low carb or keto diet.
Lastly, it is naturally soy-free, making it a great protein source for vegan and vegetarians that have soy allergies.
As vital wheat gluten contains almost all gluten, it is not suitable for those who are intolerance to gluten or with celiac disease.
🔪How to use
Gluten flour is mainly used in 3 ways - In baking, as a binder and used to make seitan and other meat alternatives.
Usually used in the making of bread, wheat gluten can improve the texture and provide structure to bread.
This is especially relevant when baking with low protein flours like rye or whole wheat. Due to their lower protein content, it will be harder for them to develop gluten, causing them to be dense and hard.
Just by adding a few tablespoons of gluten flour, the total gluten protein content increases, resulting in a much fluffier and chewier bread.
Typically, most baking sources and recipes will call for a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten per 2 cups of flour.
To make seitan
Seitan, also known as wheat meat, is a really popular protein source among vegans and vegetarians that is primarily made from vital wheat gluten. You can easily make some homemade seitan at home by combining gluten flour, water and seasonings to form a dough.
The dough is either being steamed, boiled or baked. In the end, you will get a meat substitute that is chewy, meaty and incredibly versatile. You can then chop it up, and add it into almost any recipes that calls for meat.
As a binding agent
Due to its sticky and elastic nature, vital wheat gluten works incredibly well as a binder for things like meatballs and burger patties. That way, they will hold their shape well and will not crumble easily.
If you can't have gluten in your diet, here are some suggested substitutions for vital wheat gluten -
- Making seitan and other mock meats - As gluten flour is used in large amounts, it is close to impossible to substitute it with something else. I would recommend looking for a gluten-free version that is made from beans, soy or something else. For example, instead of making normal seitan, try making this gluten-free seitan instead.
- In baking - Xanthan gum and guar gum are some of the best substitute for vital wheat gluten when in comes to baking. You will need much lesser though - use 1 teaspoon of gum in place of 1 tablespoon of wheat gluten.
- As a binding agent - Simply use another gluten-free binding agent. One of my personal favorite is oat flour, and you can substitute it with a 1:1 ratio, adding more or less if needed. Other popular binders that are free from gluten includes flax egg, psyllium husk and gums.
❔Commonly asked questions
Yes, both vital wheat gluten and gluten flour refers to the same thing, which is a flour that is incredibly high in gluten with little starch and fat. Both terms can be used interchangeably.
An unopened bag of vital wheat gluten has a long shelf life of 7-10 years if stored in a well-ventilated dry environment. Once opened, store it in an airtight container and use it up within a year, or in the freezer to further extend its shelf life by 6 months.
Wheat gluten contains little to no fat. As the odds of an ingredient going rancid depends on its fat content, vital wheat gluten has a very small opportunity of turning rancid.
Gluten plays an important role in providing structure to breads and other baked goods. As vital wheat gluten is mainly made from gluten, you can improve the elasticity and chewiness of the bread just by adding a small amount, especially when baking with low protein flours like rye and whole wheat flour.
As a general rule of thumb, you will only need 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten per 2 cups of flour. But amount may vary depending on the flour used and its protein content.
Seitan and other mock meats
Used as binder
🔑 Key takeaways
- Wheat gluten is a flour that mainly consist of wheat protein - gluten. Hence, they are a really great plant based protein source.
- Both vital wheat gluten and gluten flour refers to the same thing and can be used interchangeably.
- It can be used in 3 main ways - To make seitan, in baking, or be used as a binder.
- As this flour is mainly made from gluten, it is not suitable who are intolerant to gluten.
- It is extremely shelf stable, and will last for 7-10 years if remain unopened.
I hope you find this post helpful and informative! If you do try any one of these recipes or have more questions regarding vital wheat gluten, feel free to leave a comment below. I love hearing from you.🙂
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