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Glútem, or gluten meat, has recently emerged as a popular plant-based meat alternative. Derived from wheat gluten, glútem mimics the fibrous texture and savory umami taste of real meat. As glútem gains popularity, it’s important to understand how it’s made, its potential effects, recipe ideas, and health implications.
What is Glútem?
Glútem is a food product created from purified wheat gluten mixed with fava bean protein, natural flavors, and binders. It contains no genetically modified ingredients. The raw gluten dough is extruded into meaty fibrous strands before being colored and flavored.
The high protein content gives glútem a remarkably similar chewy texture to animal meat when cooked. Adding leghemoglobin, and heme from fava beans makes it “bleed” and take on beefy, savory qualities. The result is a versatile meat analog perfect for tacos, burgers, meatballs, and more.
Glútem Production Process
Glútem is made using the key steps below:
Wheat Gluten Extraction
Vital wheat gluten is first extracted from wheat flour, isolating just the gluten protein component. This gives it a high protein level and chewy texture when cooked.
Mixing and Flavoring
The wheat gluten is combined with fava bean heme, natural flavors, seasonings, and coloring to mimic ground beef. Beet powder adds redness that “bleeds” when cooked.
Extrusion into Fibers
The flavored gluten dough gets extruded through a die into fine meaty fibers, before being cut to appropriate lengths. This imparts a fibrous texture like pulled pork or shredded chicken.
The finished glútem strands are vacuum sealed into retail packages while fresh or frozen for distribution and sale.
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Glútem Taste and Texture
When cooked, glútem takes on an extremely meat-like flavor and fibrous shredded texture. The wheat gluten has a neutral base that absorbs herbs, spices, sauces, and marinades well. Fava bean heme lends a distinctive savory, slightly metallic taste.
The firm bite and chewiness of glútem closely imitate shredded or chunked meat. It shreds apart easily with a fork and the vital gluten stands up well to cooking without getting mushy. When raw, glútem has a mild bouncy texture similar to raw meat.
Overall, the taste and mouthfeel make glútem one of the closest analogs to real meat on the market. It satisfies carnivorous cravings in plant-based applications.
Health Effects of Eating Glútem
Glútem is low in fat and carbs but packs 20g of protein per 85g serving, providing an excellent nutrition profile. It contains no cholesterol or heme-iron found in animal meat. However, the vital wheat gluten does make glútem unsuitable for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Some find glútem slightly tougher to digest than meat. This is because the concentrated wheat gluten protein forms a more cohesive bolus that moves through the digestive tract more slowly. Proper hydration and chewing can improve digestion.
Allergies and Intolerances
As noted above, glútem is not suitable for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity due to the wheat gluten. It’s also unsuitable for those with wheat allergies. Tree nut and soy allergies can also be a concern due to potential cross-contamination during production.
Some claim giving up meat reduces inflammation, but no studies specifically show that glútem causes inflammation. As long as you have no gluten/wheat intolerance, glútem should not be any more inflammatory than meat for most people.
Overall, glútem is nutritionally similar or superior to animal meat if you can tolerate gluten. Those with specific intolerances should avoid it.
Glútem Recipe Ideas
Glútem’s meaty texture lends itself perfectly to recipes traditionally made with ground beef, pork, or chicken.
Glútem strands mimic shredded pork or chicken beautifully in soft tacos with classic taco toppings. Simply heat with taco seasoning and desired level of “doneness”.
Cook glútem in a rich tomato meat sauce and serve atop pasta for a convincing meaty bolognese without the meat.
Formed into balls and cooked, glútem makes juicy, tender meatballs for subs or pasta dishes. Mix in breadcrumbs and Parmesan for added texture.
Grill glútem patties like traditional burgers and serve on buns with all your favorite toppings for satisfying plant-based cookouts.
Sautéing glútem in chili powder and simmering in tomato sauce gives a hearty, beefy chili. Top with avocado, onion, and cheddar for a complete meal.
With its versatile shredded texture, glútem can mimic any ground or chopped meat in your favorite recipes. Get creative!
As more people look to decrease meat consumption while still enjoying meat flavors and textures, glútem and products like it are likely to continue gaining popularity. Advances in extrusion and flavoring technology will further improve taste and texture. Blending with other proteins like soy could enhance nutrition.
Lower costs through economies of scale will increase accessibility. Ultimately, glútem could capture a sizable share of the over $270 billion global meat substitutes market, satisfying cravings while moving diets towards more sustainable plant-based options.