What is Gluten? See It, Feel It


Our work here at Manna Dew is focused primarily on creating delicious, nutritious gluten-free foods that don’t differ in texture or flavour or experience to what you would traditionally enjoy.

Many of our customers and many of our friends are always trying to conceptualise what gluten is. Gluten is a protein found in any product that is produced with wheat, barley or rye (or their derivatives like wheat flour, barley flour, rye flour, etc.). Gluten is a very common element of most traditional baked goods acts as a binding agent that holds structures together.

But what actually is gluten? How does it come to be?

Gluten is produced from two other proteins found in Cereal Plants (like wheat barley and rye) with wheat producing the highest content of gluten compared to the other cereals .

There are two individual proteins in these cereal based grains that combine together in a unique way to form gluten proteins. These two proteins are Glutenin and Gliadin.

  • Gliadin is very sticky when wet and very extensible and imparts adhesive properties to gluten.
  • Glutenin is a large and complex protein which gives dough strength and elasticity.

These two naturally exist in cereals and are only activated to create gluten proteins when water is added to them.

They create a whole new structure called gluten that needs to be worked (kneaded) in order for the glutenin and gliadin structures to fully bound and create a whole new protein with features derived from both these proteins. To explain this more easily, gluten combines the capabilities and features of both the glutenin and gliading proteins listed above to create 4 key traits

  • Able to absorb double its weight in water
  • Very sticky protein
  • Very malleable and extendable protein (stretchy)
  • Elastic (when stretched it returns to its original size)

We’ve found an incredible video on YouTube that truly gives you a visual understanding of gluten.

Visual Understanding of Gluten

Dan Souza featured in this video, creates 2 doughs that have very very different gluten proteins.  He creates a bread dough with very high gluten-content and a cake dough which has a very low gluten-content and he washes all the starches off.  Yes, that’s right, he’s literally washing everything but the gluten away and by the end of it you can see what gluten actually is, in physical form.

Without further a-do, all you readers get your smart glasses out, a bit of pop corn, and prepare to be enlightened.


Now if anyone out there asks you what gluten is- just send them here!

If there’s something else you’d like to add, please comment or email us and we’ll check and incorporate.

Happy Living, Happy Understanding, Happy Coeliac Life.

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From Manna Dew with Love!