Making Wheat Gluten “Meat”

making-gluten-meatA number of years ago, I was having problems milling my whole wheat. I had assumed that the grain mill I use to grind my malted grains for beer (primarily barley) would work for my winter wheat stores.

Bad assumption.

The grains were too small and too hard for the knurling on the mill wheels to grab and grind. I’d been searching the internet for a mill that had to have a manual crank in case the lights go out, but if it had a motorized base, so much the better. The $400 uber-mills were not going to be considered.

The Family Grain Mill met the bill. It’s made in Germany by Messerschmidt and is made from high carbon steel and Lexan polycarbonate.

As a bonus, I was able to purchase an adapter so the mill can use our Kitchenaid mixer as the power source.

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I use the Kitchenaid now as my meat grinder for my sausage. As a double bonus, the Family Grain Mill also sells a meat/food grinder attachment.

The manual hand base attachment was very solid. I sometimes make pasta, and the pasta roller attaches to the table much like the hand base. The difference is, the grain mill is MUCH more stable. Solid as a rock.

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What is so very slick, is all of the parts are inter-changeable and can work on either the hand base or the Kitchenaid. The manual base and the mill came as a package. The meat grinder and the Kitchenaid attachment cost a few more bucks. All in, it was only slightly over my budget for a manual mill alone.

I tested it out, and produced my first whole wheat. At that moment, it dawned on my I had never cooked with whole wheat. I’ve eaten whole wheat bread and whole wheat muffins, but I’ve never cooked with it.

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When I purchased my first bucket of wheat, I also purchased the book, “The Amazing Wheat Book” by LeArta Moulton. Its main premise is on how to make, season and prepare wheat gluten.

I’ve got to admit that learning how to make and use the current, “Don’t Eat This Or You’ll Die” fad food – gluten – held a lot of appeal.  Unless you have celiac disease or are on one of glutenmonsterthe paleo fad diets, gluten is a great protein source.

The idea of wheat gluten is very similar to TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) – a high protein meat replacement. TVP is made from soy flour. It is initially virtually tasteless, but when flavored, can be added to dishes as a filler, or even as the main course. Think veggie burgers or imitation bacon bits.

To make the wheat gluten, you take 2 parts wheat flour with 1 part water and mix it together. You then let it sit and allow the gluten in the wheat to develop. You then rinse this ball of dough under warm water, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t turn into this mass of stringy, bouncy ‘stuff’. ‘Bubble gum-like’ is how it was described in the book.

You then cook the gluten. I wrapped mine in cheese cloth into a fat sausage shape, and steamed it for a half hour.

You flavor it after it is cooked, as it is too elastic-like before then. The primary way to flavor it is by simmering it for 5 minutes or so in a salty or spicy broth.

I took half of the sausage log, and cut it into slices. I simmered them in one of the broth recipes included in the book, for 5 minutes.

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The initial mouth-feel of this stuff was very pleasant. It had the chewy quality of a piece of meat. It was a bit under-seasoned. I think 10 minutes in the broth will be better. The biggest problem was after the 4th or 5th chew. It got a very distinctive wheat taste. I no longer believed I was eating meat. I now knew I was eating wheat flavored to taste like meat.

I think the reason was the wheat bran. The book mentioned that you didn’t need to worry about washing out all of the bran during the dough-to-gluten step. I disagree.

I’m sure the gluten with a lot of bran is much more healthy for you, but you’re not going to fool anyone into believing they are eating meat with all of that chaff in there. The gluten washing step is designed to capture all of the starch and bran that comes off of the dough ball, so it can always be recaptured there so you’re not wasting anything.

I ground up the second half of the sausage log using the sausage attachment on the manual set-up (gotta test everything!).

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It worked as advertised. I’m going to make a couple of veggie-burgers with this ground gluten.

If I can get the bran content lower, I’ll make up a bunch of this stuff and freeze it. You can also throw the ground stuff in the oven or dehydrator to dry it out. I’ll try that and vacuum seal some for the emergency supply bags. You can never have enough protein sources in your prepper stores…

See “TVP – The New White Meat?” for more vegetarian protein ideas.

 

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