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I like making veggie burgers, and one recipe that I use relies on vital wheat gluten (as well as egg replacer) to have a coherent burger. Here are the ingredients for one particular burger:

1 cup TVP
¾ cup Vegetable broth
2 tbsp. Tamari
2 tbsp. Teriyaki Sauce
1 egg Egg replacer
1 cup Crushed pineapple
2 tbsp. Brown sugar
½ cup Vital wheat gluten
½ cup Whole wheat flour

They are mixed together by hand and refrigerated to thicken up. Then the burgers are pan fried.

What I find is that the outer portion of the burger that makes contact with the pan on either side has an excellent texture, but the inside of the burger is very rubbery, being that it's practically raw and the gluten has that rubbery texture to it. If I pan fry the burgers much longer, they turn brown and get too crispy before the interior is fully cooked, even when I have the burner turned low. Is there a solution to this texture issue?

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To me this chewy texture is characteristic of wheat gluten, even when fairly thoroughly cooked. It's leveraged on purpose for a number of dishes, and really only freeze-dried gluten products (common for clear soups in Japan) seem to escape that. Are you really committed to using the gluten for some particular reason? –  JasonTrue Feb 2 '13 at 7:46
    
@JasonTrue I would be happy to leave out the gluten entirely if the burgers would still hold together. I don't get a rubbery taste when I make seitan with VWG, but it is cooked entirely different (steamed, baked or boiled). –  lemontwist Feb 2 '13 at 13:11
    
I am not too experienced with the product so I'm not going to try to answer, but have you tried baking them? You get much slower and steadier heat with an oven, which should result in more done interiors. You can always finish them off in the pan to get the nice outside texture. –  sarge_smith Feb 2 '13 at 19:35
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The rubbery texture can be from over-kneading when combining the burgers. For some recipes, I have pre-baked at a low temperature then grilled to get the right texture on the outside. This would work with a recipe with a resting period as well as one that just dries.

Also, if the egg replacer is not binding correctly (I am assuming you are using Ener-G), try using a chia or flax egg (1 tbsp of either milled, then combined with 3 tbsp water and set to congeal). This will raise the moisture in your patty, which likely already has a good amount based on your recipe, so you can use other wet ingredients instead of adding water.

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If the patties are cooked all the way through and you find the texture too rubbery, I'd take out half of the gluten and replace it with either more flour or mashed cooked beans. This will still help to bind it, but won't contribute to a rubbery texture.

If the issue is getting the gluten to be fully cooked (which can sometimes take MUCH longer than you'd expect), I generally split the cooking method. I will sear them in a pan to get the exterior texture I want, then put them on a parchment lined sheet pan, lightly spray them with oil, and finish them by baking. The more even heat provided by baking can help get the middles cooked before the outside is burned.

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If the problem is that they're raw in the middle, try lowering the heat and covering the pan. In beef burgers and sausages, the lid helps them steam a little, getting the center done faster; you then uncover and raise the heat to get a good sear on the outside. I don't know any reason why this wouldn't work for vegatarian burgers.

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