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Making raw gluten from flour/ from scratch

Making raw gluten from flour is a simple but step-wise process:
  • Select the flour
  • Mix with water and rest
  • Knead to develop the proteins into gluten
  • Soak and rinse to remove starch and bran
  • Shape the raw gluten, with or without additions
  • Season and cook to flavor and firm the gluten in a cold "simmering stock"
  • Use the prepared wheat meat as a base for cooked dishes

It takes a little practice and experimenting to get the perfect result, but you will learn quickly.


Use a high gluten flor such as bread flour if available for the best yield, but you can use all purpose flour is that is what you have. You will end up with an amount of gluten equal to about half the volume of flour you start with. Measure the flour. Use about half as much water to make the dough. You can do this in a food processor if you are kaing a small amount.

Add the Water and Rest

Mix flour and water to make a medium-stiff but not sticky dough. Then you knead the dough by hand on a breadboard or tabletop, until it has the consistency of an earlobe, which will take 10 to 20 minutes depending on your flour and your kneading skill. You may need to add a little water to get the right consistency. If you prod the dough with a fingertip, it bounces right back, leaving not a trace of the poking.

Once you have a nice firm ball of dough, let it rest before rinsing. If using white flour, this can be as little as an hour, several hours to overnight if whole wheat. To rest the dough, pour enough water into the bowl to cover the dough, and let it sit several hours or overnight.


Warm water loosens the dough and makes rinsing the starch out easier, so you usually start with warmer water. Cold water firms or tightens the gluten, so you usually finish with cooler water. The rinsing process takes about 10 to 20 minutes if the gluten ball was kneaded enough at the first mixing. If it was not kneaded enough, you will take longer and have more trouble keeping the gluten ball together, but don't give up, it will eventually come together.

When you start rinsing, drain the sitting water from the ball. Work and squeeze the ball in a bowl under warm water with your hands to loosen the dough (less than a minute). When the water takes on a milky appearance and you see specks of bran, pour this water off, holding bulk of the dough back with your hands.

When you have kneaded and rinsed it enough, the ball oozes a clear, not milky, liquid when you take it out of the water and squeeze it.

After the gluten is rinsed for the last time in cold water, it will have tightened up. It will look rather stringy. It will be tense, tough, and resistant to taking on any other shape. Put it in a clean bowl and let it rest at least 20 minutes, up to overnight, before shaping.

As the dough is washed, it will turn a sort of yellowy-brown, and feels sort of like wet clay. Small white nodules are unwashed starch and need to be washed away or picked out. The gluten is ready to simmer once all of these bits are gone, and there is little or no starch left.

You can stop here. Keep the washed gluten in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. When the small holes in the gluten disappear, it means the gluten is ready to cook.

Additions and Simmerimmering

Raw Gluten can now be cooked using any of the following methods:
* Vegetable steamer - 30 minutes, or until firm
* Double boiler - 30 minutes, or until firm
* Pressure cooker - 15 minutes at 15 lb. pressure (with or without broth seasoning)
* Microwave - Work seasonings into gluten by hand; vary them to taste. Cover ring mold with plastic wrap. Cook 10 minutes in microwave on full power, then flip and cook 10 more minutes. Let stand until cool. Slice, grind or chop in recipes in place of burger. Note: Freezing firms texture even more.
*Baking or Deep Fat Frying (Gluten Puffs) Tear off walnut-sized pieces of gluten. Place on oiled baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake at 350 degrees until balls puff up and are light. Reduce heat and bake slowly until crisp and dry. Use in vegetable stews or soups, or grind to make meatless burger for loaves. Fully dried, it will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.

If simmering, keep the simmering water just below the boiling point by adding some cold water before the water bubbles too much. When the gluten pieces rise to the surface, you can take them out.

Cut cooked, firm gluten into slices (for steaks or chipped "beef"); strips (for stir-fry or gravies); cubes (for chicken dishes); or grind (for "hamburger" or candy recipes).

The simmering stock must be cold before it is used. The cool starting liquid causes the gluten to contract and prevents the seitan from acquiring a bread-like texture. You will be using this stock to cook the seitan later.

If you only let the water for this cooking simmer, you get a firmer texture. Letting it boil gives a spongier texture - it's just a matter of taste which you prefer. Cook covered for 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the pieces. Make sure that it is a large pan with a lot of water or stock. The gluten will nearly double in size.

When the 20 to 45 minutes is up, remove the gluten.

Storing and Using the Prepared Wheat Meat

At this point it can be used immediately, or drained on a metal rack overnight in the fridge. Pressing the freshly cooked pieces with a fork or spatula also firms the texture, making it easier to cut into interesting shapes. Gluten can be kept in the fridge for about 2-3 days, and it can be frozen as well, although this seems to lose some of its firmness.

To store seitan, keep it refrigerated, immersed in the stock. If it is brought to a boil in the tamari stock and simmered for 10 minutes twice a week, the seitan will keep indefinitely. Otherwise, use it within 8 or 9 days. If refrigerated without broth, it can be kept for about 2-3 days. It can be frozen as well, although this seems to lose some of its firmness.

Here are two interesting off site links about gluten:
Yerba Buena Wheat Flour Meat
Interactive site on gluten chemistry

Noodles and Pancakes Made By Processing the water from washing gluten

In China, the water from washing the gluten is used to make other foods. The dehydrated deposit from washing gluten is called non-glutinous flour and is sold in the markets. It is often used for making semi-transparent wrappers for Chinese food, such as crystal dumplings. You can make a similar food from the washing water for your gluten.

The first time when you wash the dough, you wash it for a longer time. Do not dump the water from this first wash. Save it in the refrigerator in a separate container to make non-glutinous noodles or pancakes.
(1) Filter the water with a fine strainer. Keep the water in a container and store in the refrigerator for over 4 hours or overnight, to let the deposit settle.
(2) Remove from the refrigerator. Slowly pour out the clearer water on the top and allow the deposit to stay at the bottom. Do not pour all the water out, save an inch or two of it in the container. Stir the deposit evenly with a spoon, the texture should be like scrambled egg mix. This is the mixture to make non-glutinous noodles.

Making Non-glutinous Noodles
(1) Brush a little oil on the surface of a oblong metal pan. Pour noodle mixture in to the pan to form a thin layer.
(2) Place the pan in a pot filled with water and steam over high heat for about 15 minutes until noodle mixture puffs up a little and becomes a transparent sheet.
(3) Remove the pan from hot water and place it in a container filled with cold water and allow pan float until cool. After it cools down, use a spatula to remove the sheet from the pan and brush oil on both sides. Cut into strips . Mix with your favorite sauce, some cucumber shreds or other ingredients, and the delicious noodle is ready to serve.

The mixture can also be used to make frying pancakes or mixed with other kinds of starch to make various foods.