Vital wheat gluten is a versatile ingredient that is commonly used in baking and cooking. It is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate powder that is extracted from wheat flour. In recent years, vital wheat gluten has gained popularity among people who follow a low-carb or gluten-free diet. In this article, we will explore what vital wheat gluten is, its benefits, and how it is used.
What is Vital Wheat Gluten?
Vital wheat gluten is the isolated gluten protein from wheat flour. It is extracted by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch has been removed. What remains is the gluten, which is then dried and ground into a powder. Vital wheat gluten is also known as gluten flour, gluten powder, or wheat gluten.
Benefits of Vital Wheat Gluten
- High-Protein Content: Vital wheat gluten is a high-protein ingredient that contains around 75% protein. It is an excellent source of plant-based protein, making it a popular ingredient among vegetarians and vegans.
- Low-Carb: Vital wheat gluten is low in carbohydrates, making it a great ingredient for people who follow a low-carb diet.
- Improves Texture: Vital wheat gluten improves the texture of baked goods. It gives a chewy and elastic texture to bread and pizza crusts.
- Extends Shelf-Life: Vital wheat gluten extends the shelf-life of baked goods. It helps to keep the bread fresher for longer by trapping moisture.
Uses of Vital Wheat Gluten
- Baking: Vital wheat gluten is commonly used in baking. It is used to make bread, pizza crusts, bagels, and other baked goods. It helps to improve the texture of the baked goods by giving them a chewy and elastic texture.
- Meat Substitute: Vital wheat gluten is a popular meat substitute among vegetarians and vegans. It is used to make seitan, which is a high-protein meat substitute that has a similar texture to meat.
- Thickener: Vital wheat gluten is a thickening agent that is commonly used in soups, sauces, and gravies. It helps to thicken the sauce and give it a smooth and creamy texture.
- Binder: Vital wheat gluten is a binder that is used to bind ingredients together. It is commonly used in vegetarian burgers and sausages to hold the ingredients together.
- Coating: Vital wheat gluten is a coating that is used to coat foods before frying. It helps to create a crispy and crunchy texture.
While vital wheat gluten is generally safe to consume, people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid it. Vital wheat gluten contains gluten, which can trigger an immune response in people with these conditions. Additionally, consuming too much vital wheat gluten can cause digestive issues, including bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Vital wheat gluten is a versatile ingredient that is commonly used in baking and cooking. It is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate powder that is extracted from wheat flour. Vital wheat gluten has many benefits, including its high-protein content, low-carb nature, and ability to improve the texture and shelf-life of baked goods. It is commonly used in baking, as a meat substitute, thickener, binder, and coating. However, people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid it, and consuming too much vital wheat gluten can cause digestive issues. Overall, vital wheat gluten is a useful ingredient that can be a valuable addition to a healthy and balanced diet.
Here's a recipe to get you started with Vital Wheat Gluten:
Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1 tsp salt
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, active dry yeast, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the honey and warm water.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel.
- Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Shape the dough into a loaf and place it in a greased loaf pan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until the bread is golden brown.
- Let the bread cool before slicing and serving.