Vital gluten is a type of protein derived from wheat flour. This is a food additive used in many products, as it adds moisture and elasticity. Mainly used in snacks, baked products and other food products, it is a high protein ingredient that is different from other gluten flours.
Many bakers consider this product a type of super flour, though it is not really flour. Made from wheat flour, vital gluten has almost no starch and is approximately 80 percent gluten. The gluten is removed from the flour through the process of hydration. Afterward, all other components in the flour are removed. This activated gluten is dried and then processed into a powder.
Pure gluten can improve many baked products. It helps dough rise, as gluten improves elasticity. This elasticity also affects the final baked product. Baked bread that contains this ingredientin described as chewy and containing an even crumb texture. Professional bakers tend to use a ratio of approximately one tablespoon of vital gluten for every two to three cups of flour.
In particular, this product is very effective when used in breads that have low protein content, including rye bread and whole wheat bread. It also is helpful for breads that contain many seeds, dried fruit or nuts. These breads can have trouble rising due to the heaviness of the ingredients. More gluten helps these breads rise and prevent deflation.
Vital gluten also tends to bind moisture. Just a tablespoon or two can transform a baked product from dry to moist. Many bakers describe their baking with additional gluten as having a fresher taste.
In addition to baked goods, this product is also found in cereals and other food products. This, too, is due in part to its exceptional binding power. The gluten creates a matrix that provides a consistent texture to many different foods.
This protein will also encapsulate micro-nutrients within a product, an important function for fortified foods, such as cereal. Vital gluten is also found in processed meat products, sauces that are created using fermentation and many seasonings. Additionally, it may be used in many vegetarian products that require protein.
Finding this form of gluten may be difficult. It differs from other gluten products in carbohydrate content. It is important to look at the ingredient list and nutritional information to ensure that the flour has high protein. If vital gluten is not available at local grocery stores, it may sometimes be found in health food stores or speciality baking stores.