Gluten is the trouble-making ingredient you’re supposed to avoid when going on a gluten free diet. But how do you avoid something if you aren’t sure what it is or where to find it? I’ll admit, this can be a challenge. It’s just not as obvious I’d like it to be, but once you learn how to spot it you’ll feel more confident about grocery shopping. Also, knowing what gluten is and how it works in food can help you understand how to cook with gluten free ingredients.
What Is This Gluten Stuff?
Gluten is the stretchy glue that helps bread, pizza crust, and other baked goods get nice puffy air pockets. It creates a flexible structure that helps each baked good hang together without necessarily being tough or chewy. When a baker knows how to properly activate the gluten protein, it will start doing its thing. The presence of gluten has influenced baking techniques for decades, even centuries. Sorry, I’m not trying to build up gluten as some kind of magical essence that turns good food into great food. It’s just one of many ingredients with useful properties out there in the world. It happens that wheat is commonly grown and used across the world, and it affects a lot of food in Western cultures.
Ready for a little science? Gluten is made up of two types of proteins – one is the (more…)