Where can I buy gluten?
November 3, 2008 6:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to make a breadmachine recipe that wants me to use gluten. A) why and 2) Where do I buy it?

Prefer a local source. Live in Philly suburbs. Tried Acme, Trader Joes, and the giant Giant in Willow Grove. Everyone makes the same joke: Well, we have lots of gluten-free stuff -- but that's not really what you want, is it? HAHAHAHAHAH

Also, what if I don't use it?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Food & Drink (15 answers total)
Chinese grocery.
posted by rokusan at 6:13 PM on November 3, 2008

It probably means gluten flour. Looks like you can buy it on amazon. I'm also pretty sure I've seen it in one of those hippie health-food stores (because of the irony). I have no idea what your bread will do without it.
posted by phunniemee at 6:13 PM on November 3, 2008

Gluten gives you a light, high loaf particularly helpful when making heavier breads with whole grain flours, grains, nuts, fruits, etc. Actually it enhances any yeasted bread.

I find it at stores that carry bulk grains, nuts, etc. in bins. Also, Bob's Old Mill sells gluten along with other grains, flours, etc. in the baking aisle in most stores in my area. I live in the west so can't give you a specific store name...but if you call a few stores before going, maybe you can find it before shopping any more and save some time and effort.

I love my bread machine and never make yeast bread in it without gluten...Bread with added gluten is far superior IMHO!

Oh, and if you don't use it, you'll get bread...and home-baked bread is always good.
posted by mumstheword at 6:22 PM on November 3, 2008

There are flours that are high gluten, which would also work. Try to avoid flours that increase gluten with bromate though, as that's a bit controversial. Bromate is a carcinogen, but in flour, if fully baked, is harmless. It's worth noting though that quite a few countries, excluding the US, have banned adding it to flour because of the risk. But flour with gluten from other sources, like this one, are worth the extra money.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:32 PM on November 3, 2008

You should be able to find Bob's Red Mill's "vital wheat gluten". It's used to give the heavier, whole-grain doughs some structure so they can trap air and rise, and not wind up like a rock.
posted by milkrate at 6:36 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh and why use it? It really improves the texture or bread, its crust and the chewiness of the inside. The nice big cells in the white, tough cell walls. If your doing a traditional bread you want gluten. If you're doing a white, fluffy, small cell white, high quantity bread, it's not necessary.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:43 PM on November 3, 2008

The world's biggest exporter of gluten is China. Gluten is among the many foodstuffs from China which have been contaminated with melamine in times past. Whether that still happens is anybody's guess, but I wouldn't wager my health on it.

So if you buy gluten somewhere, you might want to check on where it came from. You'd probably do better to go for a high-gluten flour instead.
posted by Class Goat at 6:50 PM on November 3, 2008

You should be able to get gluten flour - that is, powdered wheat gluten - in the baking section of any large supermarket. If I can find it in New Zealand, you can do it in the retail paradise of North America.

As noted by others, gluten is what gives strength to the dough.

Possible alternatives are high-protein flours (but not always - eg durum flour is high protein, but not the right kind) or so-called "improvers". Eg, a speck of Vitamin C will radically change the texture of your bread.

If you leave it out, the worst that will happen is that you'll have a smaller, denser loaf.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:38 PM on November 3, 2008

Wal-mart carries Bob's Old Mill gluten by the bread flour and mixes for machines.
posted by JujuB at 8:24 PM on November 3, 2008

Gluten is what gives the dough its elasticity and structure. It's not essential - you'll probably end up with a slightly flatter loaf if you skip it. Depending on the recipe you could swap in some bread flour (more gluten than all-purpose) to get more gluten in there.

Bob's Red Mill has a store finder. You could drop in your address and see what comes up.
posted by O9scar at 8:48 PM on November 3, 2008

I used to use gluten flour in my bread. However, I discovered that a handfull of hulled millett (easily obtained from health food stores) has a similar effect, especially when combined with a teaspoon of bread improver.
posted by singingfish at 9:43 PM on November 3, 2008

I'm shocked Trader Joes doesn't carry it, but I'd be even more shocked if Whole Foods didn't.
posted by piedmont at 11:00 PM on November 3, 2008

You can buy it in bulk at a Whole Foods.
posted by beerbajay at 1:57 AM on November 4, 2008

If you are using All Purpose Flour, you'll definitely want the "Vital Wheat Gluten" to add protein to improve the structure. Possibly also if you are using a lot if rye and other low gluten flour or meal. Also if you are using lots of additives like seeds, fruits and nuts that will weigh down the loaf. I've found Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten in the baking aisle, and also in the whole/natural/organic foods aisle of my local Stop and Shop.
posted by rocketpup at 7:33 AM on November 4, 2008

This page explains what gluten is and what it does.

You don't necessarily need to add gluten if you're using a good bread flour, like King Arthur, that's high in protein. All-purpose flour can't make much gluten, so you'd need to add some gluten flour. I do keep gluten on hand to make pizza dough nice and stretchy; I've tried adding it to KA bread flour, but the breads I bake are nicer without it.
posted by wryly at 11:26 AM on November 4, 2008

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