When Seitan Tastes too “Gluteny”

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What to Do When Your Seitan Tastes

“Gluteny”

Many of us (myself included) are sensitive to the “gluteny” after-taste of seitan made from vital wheat gluten. I have a hard time finding another word to describe it. It’s like a really heavy bread flavor, and despite how much I love a nice, crusty, freshly-baked bread, that taste does not have a place in my mock-meat creations. I’ve gotten a little more used to it over time, but I’ve also learned a few tricks to help tame it.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR (ACV)

The first trick I learned is to use apple cider vinegar (ACV). Despite the strong flavor of the stuff on its own, it does not seem to heavily impact even the lighter, more “chickeny” dishes. I typically use about 2 tablespoons in a 4-6 serving size seitan dish. You’ll want to add it into your wet mix. If you’re adding other vinegars or heavily-acidic ingredients, you may want to cut back on the amount of ACV, even just a little.

BAKING SODA

Baking soda by some miracle seems to work wonders when combating the gluten taste. You don’t need very much, either. Typically about 1/4 teaspoon per cup of VWG should do the trick. Whisk it right into your dry mix, and because it is such a small amount, it won’t do anything to offset your wet/dry ratio.

However, there are a couple things you should understand before using baking soda to combat the gluten flavor.
First – Don’t confuse baking soda with baking powder. Both are typically used in baking to create a “rising” action in baked goods, but that is NOT the effect we typically desire in our seitanic creations.

The major difference between the two is that baking soda requires the addition of an acidic ingredient to make it “rise,” while baking powder contains a dry acid which causes it to “rise” as soon wet ingredients come into contact with it.

That means, if you add anything wet to baking powder, you’re much more likely to create bubbles which cause a “rise” in your seitan, and that could lead to bready results.

Which brings me to my second point – Don’t add any acidic ingredients if you’re using baking soda. For the exact same reason you want to avoid baking powder, you don’t want to use baking soda in a recipe that utilizes any vinegar, lemon juice, wine, etc. Even tomatoes and tomato paste should be avoided. When in doubt, look it up to see if it’s acidic, and if it is, you’re better off adding some additional ACV to help as mentioned above.

MUSTARD

This one is less-often touted to combat that gluteny flavor, but it’s still an excellent stand-in. If you’re using prepared mustard, it typically contains vinegar, so I’d avoid baking soda, though you can still use ACV. However, if you’re using mustard seed, that’s neutral and you can use either ACV or baking soda. Even if you’re unsure of the PH of your wheat-meat, any form of mustard shouldn’t make your seitan too acidic, and it definitely won’t make it “bready,’ either.

WASH FLOUR TO MAKE YOUR OWN GLUTEN

The “Wash the Flour” (WTF) method has to be my ultimate favorite way of taming the gluten taste. In fact to me, recipes made from this process make it virtually undetectable. There’s no need to mask the flavor with another ingredient, and you can just focus on seasoning however you like. Some people think the process is too much effort or too time-consuming, though I can’t help but disagree. I tend to find myself making more of a mess when using vital wheat gluten, while most of the time spent for the washing flour process is simply waiting.

If you’ve never done it before but would like to try, here is a step-by-step guide to help you get going. You’ll also find a few recipes on the site utilizing the method, with lots more to come.

Read more seitan articles here:

Is Seitan Healthy?

Learn about the nutritional values of vital wheat gluten and how to get the most protein from your seitan.

Achieve Seitan Umami

Are your seitan dishes lacking something? Give them the power of the 5th flavor sense - umami!

When Seitan Tastes too “Gluteny”

If you're at all sensitive to the "gluteny" aftertaste that vital wheat gluten can impart on your wheat-meat creations, you'll find yourself searching for a way to get rid of it. Here are a few tricks to help tame that taste.

A Tale of Two Dough Balls

An attempt to demistify the washed flour process of making seitan through a series of experiments between two dough balls.

December 29th, 2020|Flavoring|

About the Author:

I created this website hoping to make it easier for people interested in seitan to be able to find, share, and rate recipes. Through both research and my own experimentation, I hope to answer some commonly asked questions in the "Learn More About Seitan" section, and you’ll find some of my own recipes here, too. Happy cooking!

7 Comments

  1. Mie Andersen January 25, 2021 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Mange tak

    • Jen January 26, 2021 at 9:30 am - Reply

      selv tak! 😊

    • MICHELLE GILLIAM March 4, 2021 at 3:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks So Much for recognizing a need for this knowledge & for Sharing!

      • Jen March 4, 2021 at 4:05 pm - Reply

        You’re welcome! Glad you find the site helpful. 😊

  2. nata April 10, 2021 at 10:47 am - Reply

    exelent webpage!!!thanks so much

  3. root May 4, 2021 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Thank you for an excellent page and your thoroughly studied ang tested recipes! I particularly like that you have tested different modifications and actually written out your thought process and reasoning.

    I wonder if you could do testing using different pH. Slightly acidic (with vinegar) and slightly basic (with baking soda) seem to both work, but do they differ in consistency? How about rising/lowering pH considerably? I remember testing that seitan with quite basic liquid becomes spongy.

    • Jen May 4, 2021 at 9:15 am - Reply

      Thank you for the kind words and I’m happy you are finding the information useful. Testing the outcome with different pH sounds like an excellent experiment and I have noted your suggestion. I do recall adding too much baking soda put the flavor off for me, but it would be a good experiment regardless. I typically find that sponginess is most often a result of cooking at too high a temperature. That can be from baking where seitan becomes bready, or simmering where the pockets expand and absorb too much liquid. I tend to use caution and if a recipe calls for baking, lower my oven temperature and cook a little longer. Instead of simmering on the stove, I use my slow cooker. Hope that helps!

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