Monday, November 26, 2007


Best Blog Tips

I had an interesting kitchen disaster yesterday, that I'd like to share with you. While testing recipes for a certain type of seitan, I was making a basic gluten mixture I have made it many times before. But this time it seemed so soft that I added 2 cups more of what I thought was pure gluten powder. When I cooked it, it seemed squishy. When it cooled off, I opened it up and it just fell apart instead of being firm and easy to slice.

I concluded that I was sold the wrong product-- "gluten flour", instead of "pure gluten powder" or "Vital wheat gluten". There is a big difference between the two and if you get the wrong product, your seitan will not be as it should! I was aware of this, but it had never happened to me before. I have purchased my gluten powder in bulk from the same store for many years. But evidently, the last batch I bought was "gluten flour". (I have contacted the store and they are going to contact their supplier.)

Here is a photo showing the loaves I made yesterday: the one made with gluten flour on the left, and the one made with gluten powder on the right.
Gluten flour contains wheat gluten AND white flour-- about half and half. Gluten powder or Vital wheat gluten is PURE wheat gluten. Gluten flour is paler in color and feels silkier when rubbed between your fingers. Gluten powder is more creamy-beige in color and almost clumps up when you rub it between your fingers.

I did a little test with the new batch and the old batch, and found that I was right. I mixed 1 tablespoon of the new batch (the gluten flour) with 1 Tablespoon of water, and did the same with the old batch (the gluten powder). I could immediately see and feel the difference. The gluten flour mixture was more yellow in color and sticky, easy to squish into a thin shape. The gluten powder mixture was grayer in color and rubbery, with a texture that would not easily flatten out. Here are pictures illustrating the difference:

The one made with gluten flour on the left, and the one made with gluten powder on the right

The one made with gluten flour

The one made with pure gluten powder (Vital wheat gluten)
So, if you ever follow a seitan recipe and the dough just falls apart, you know you were sold the wrong product!

When I say "reliable", I am quoting other sources.  Whenever you are trying a new brand, do the test above.

Nov. 2014 Update: WHAT I USE NOW (CANADIAN SOURCE): (Their product is superior even to Bob's Red Mill brand)

Honeyville Farms Vital Wheat Gluten

Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten

Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten with Vitamin C

Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten

NutriMill Vital Wheat Gluten (from Pleasant Hill Grain)

Canning Pantry Vital Wheat Gluten

King Arthur Flour Vital Wheat Gluten Vital Wheat Gluten



Amy said...

Hmmm interesting. I've never had the wrong product but here in Australia our Vital Wheat Gluten is sold as Gluten Flour for baking and the other as High Gluten Flour. I guess it depends on where you live too as to what they call it.

I'm interested in this Grain Meat book. Is it one you are writing?

Anonymous said...

Bryanna, I have never seen Vital Wheat gluten here. I have been buying a bulk bag of Gluten flour (that is what is written on the paper bag, in any case) and making your recipes with that since day one. I'm able to slice your loaves and the likes very thinly but I have noticed that when making the Tenderloin roast, mine never comes out as smooth as on the dvd. It's all bumpy. It's ok when cooked though.

Tomorrow, I'm going to do the test with what I have. If you want me to send you a sample of the gluten flour I have, let me know!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

vegetation and gaia-- unfortunately, "gluten powder" is often called "gluten flour", but there IS a "gluten flour" that is half white flour, so, if there is a question, you need to see the ingredients on the original bag. I, too, have been buying mine in bulk from the same place for years, but they must have changed suppliers recently. Fortunately, they know me and are looking into it.

Anonymous said...

Your thoroughness and experience is one of my favorite things about your writing. "Purity" is historically a problem in trade and "sciences" (Spices and herbs compared to pharmaceuticals, &c.).Does Wheat Gluten require 80% gluten or better to be labelled Vital? We may need to elect a vegan food labelling association, ha ha!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

ravenous, I understand that vital wheat gluten should be 75-80% protein.

1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten (Bob's red Mill) contains 6g carbohydrate and 23 g protein

1/4 cup of gluten flour (according to Whole Foods Market) contains 14 g carbohydrates and 12 g protein

Rural Vegan said...

Bryanna, Bob's Red Mill calls it "Vital Wheat Gluten Flour" on the package. Is that the 'correct' type?

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

rural vegan, yes that one is fine, despite the name (it's so confusing with no standard name!)--I have subscribers who use Bob's red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten all the time and say it's wonderful.

I checked their website, and on it they only have a product called "Vital Wheat Gluten"; they have no product listed
as "gluten flour". So it must be the right thing.

In any case you can check the nutrient content pn the package. According to their website, 1/4 cup will contain 23 g of protein. If it doesn't say that on the package (but instead, 12 or 14 g per 1/4 cup), then it isn't the right one.

Sheree' said...

I have had this happen to me also. It really sucks because as everyone knows it takes alot of time and ingredients to make seitan. I am excited about the book you are working on. I love Field roast products. They are so hard to fine around here so I can't wait until this book comes out!

Speedwell said...

Bryanna, I'm ecstatic about your upcoming Field Roast cookbook. I live in a big city in Texas where they seem to disdain all things West Coast, so Field Roast is like what my engineers call "unobtanium" in local stores, even in Whole Foods. I can't even get them to order it for me by the case! Field Roast was kind enough to let me buy a case of 2-pound Celebration Roasts directly from them last year because I was having surgery right before Thanksgiving, but I can't call upon them to do that for me every time I get an urge. PLEASE please pretty please announce your cookbook the minute you're taking pre-orders. :)

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

I will announce it as soon as it's available!

Joni Marie Newman said...

THANKS for this post. this recently happened to me, and what a bummer. I am linking to this post from my blog so that others can read about your experience. THANKS SO MUCH!

Ashley C. said...

Ha, I know this is really old, but I had to post a comment. I recently learned the difference the hard way too! Twice I tried to make a sourdough starter, which calls for high gluten flour. Not knowing, I used Vital Wheat Gluten, thinking it was the same thing. I was so disappointed after it didn't work twice (and it's a 5 day process each time). It was a thick, gross mess. Needless to say I felt a bit dumb when I did some research, but at least I know why it didn't work!

Scott said...

Finally got around to trying this today. I did cooking method #2 as I do not - YET - have a clay roaster. I just had a slice of one of the almost cooled loaves (couldn't wait!) and it is divine. I proudly then offered my wife a slice and I'm having to hold her at bay. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

Cheers, Scott

jonjen said...

Yes, if you are in a different country, they call it something else. In Australia, I bought a gluten flour, yet the protein content is 3times its carbohydrate content. Thanks for your comment Bryanna, I can now start.baking.

Thomas said...

Here in the States I buy Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten.1

Theoretical Poodle said...

Thanks :), helpful