1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gluten

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GLUTEN, a tough, tenacious, ductile, somewhat elastic, nearly tasteless and greyish-yellow albuminous substance, obtained from the flour of wheat by washing in water, in which it is insoluble. Gluten, when dried, loses about two-thirds of its weight, becoming brittle and semi-transparent; when strongly heated it crackles and swells, and burns like feather or horn. It is soluble in strong acetic acid, and in caustic alkalis, which latter may be used for the purification of starch in which it is present. When treated with .1 to .2% solution of hydrochloric acid it swells up, and at length forms a liquid resembling a solution of albumin, and laevorotatory as regards polarized light. Moistened with water and exposed to the air gluten putrefies, and evolves carbon dioxide, hydrogen and sulphuretted hydrogen, and in the end is almost entirely resolved into a liquid, which contains leucin and ammonium phosphate and acetate. On analysis gluten shows a composition of about 53% of carbon, 7% of hydrogen, and nitrogen 15 to 18%, besides oxygen, and about 1% of sulphur, and a small quantity of inorganic matter. According to H. Ritthausen it is a mixture of glutencasein (Liebig’s vegetable fibrin), glutenfibrin, gliadin (Pflanzenleim), glutin or vegetable gelatin, and mucedin, which are all closely allied to one another in chemical composition. It is the gliadin which confers upon gluten its capacity of cohering to form elastic masses, and of separating readily from associated starch. In the so-called gluten of the flour of barley, rye and maize, this body is absent (H. Ritthausen and U. Kreusler). The gluten yielded by wheat which has undergone fermentation or has begun to sprout is devoid of toughness and elasticity. These qualities can be restored to it by kneading with salt, lime-water or alum. Gluten is employed in the manufacture of gluten bread and biscuits for the diabetic, and of chocolate, and also in the adulteration of tea and coffee. For making bread it must be used fresh, as otherwise it decomposes, and does not knead well. Granulated gluten is a kind of vermicelli, made in some starch manufactories by mixing fresh gluten with twice its weight of flour, and granulating by means of a cylinder and contained stirrer, each armed with spikes, and revolving in opposite directions. The process is completed by the drying and sifting of the granules.