Just had an interesting facebook "conversation" about gluten with a couple of chefs. The basis of one argument was that while gluten comes from wheat, barley, rye, etc..., it is only developed through kneading. I quote:
"Kneading, develops gluten by stretching out the proteins, & increasing the rate at which, the molecules collide and the reaction occurs. Kneading also forms an ordered cohesive mass. The reaction remains essentially, a chemical reaction. The virtue of kneading is the mass is very uniform and the gluten can be developed very extensively (homogenous and extensive cross-linking) to give very strong loaves - which will rise spectacularly and have good mechanical strength so you can make free form loaves fearlessly. Most straight dough recipes develop all the gluten by kneading."
Is this true? Because if it is, then eating raw (not that anyone would)wheat would mean you wouldn't actually have to deal with the gluten issue. (I know there are other things that we're avoiding in wheat, and it's not just gluten, but I'm just curious here about the science)
Anyway, I know it's not a terribly important deal, but I have never really thought about this before and didn't know what the correct answer actually is. I was always under the impression that gluten was one of the ways that plants managed to keep on developing their species (anti-predation proteins), but I would be wrong if gluten doesn't present until it has been kneaded.
Alright, that was an annoyingly long way to phrase my question. Oy.
Gluten is a protein that is always present in wheat. When they refer to "developing" gluten, they are talking about reactions that change the form of the protein which changes the texture of the final dough. This is similar to, but not the same as, the changes in the protein structure that come from beating egg whites. Long story short, the gluten in the wheat grain is just as toxic to your system whether you allow it to "develop" or not.
Gluten is the umbrella name of several different proteins, naturally present in high amounts in certain grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. By mixing liquid with these flours the proteins are blended and "activated" in a culinary sense to form a combination that is stretchy and binding, which is part of what gives wheat flour it's great dough qualities. But this is simply the description of a culinary preparation and doesn't take into consideration about how our bodies handle the ingestion of these proteins (in whatever form). I'm surprised that anyone would think that gluten is only of concern when these grains have been prepared as dough, that's ridiculous. Even IF this were true the simple act of chewing raw wheat would be enough to set this chemical reaction in motion, as it is crushed and mixed with our saliva. Using the same logic, even if we managed to swallow it whole it would be broken down and exposed to liquids as it traveled through the digestion process.
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