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Bread recipes cite 190F-200F as internal temperatures, presumably for the gluten but what about Seitan?

Recipes are all over the place on methods and cooking times and I can find few internal temperature guidelines and no reference as to why that temp.

from https://thelowfodmapvegan.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/low-fodmap-seitan/
For a roast: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Shape the seitan into an 8-inch log and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 160f.

I will be attempting a mortadella style, simmering in a bag bound with twine. Tearing off a piece to test texture/doneness, not ideal.

Authentic mortadella is cooked to 158f. Shall I go with that?

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  • You cannot derive the internal temperature from bread (that comes from the starch) or from authentic mortadella (that comes from the animal protein). It will have its unique temperature.
    – rumtscho
    Jul 9, 2021 at 5:57
  • Yes, that's why I asked. If I don't find a food-science answer within a week, I shall make 2 shorter mortadella-style; one at 158f and other 160 to test. Needs to rest overnight so no quick at the pot answer though I suppose could re-simmer if higher temp is better...
    – Pat Sommer
    Jul 9, 2021 at 22:44
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    "information on heat-induced changes in gluten is scarce and the mechanisms that ultimately result in the functionality of the final product are not completely understood." From HEAT-INDUCED GLUTEN POLYMERISATION AND ITS IMPORTANCE IN BREAD MAKING BERT LAGRAIN November 2007. So, I won't hold my breath.
    – Pat Sommer
    Jul 9, 2021 at 23:28
  • I also am not sure that the 190-200 degrees for bread recipes is "primarily for gluten"
    – Esther
    Aug 3, 2022 at 17:27

2 Answers 2

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160F/71C are the general food safety internal cooking temperatures given for most foods. The rationale is achieving an instant 7-log reduction in pathogens - 1 surviving bacteria per 10,000,000 viable bacteria per mass unit of food for the most heat-resistant organism, typically Listeria monocytogenes.

The concern in seitan products is more for ready-made refrigerated commercial varieties, as these may carry pathogens from handling prior to packaging and the seitan itself has a nutrient profile hospitable to their growth.

The difference in time to achieve lethality at 158F vs 160F is negligible without even considering dwell time, and is fine for safety.

Regarding texture - two article abstracts on temperature effects on gluten structure:

[...]Chromatographic examination showed that free sulphydryl groups were found predominantly in glutenin aggregates of lowest molecular weight and in gliadins; sulphydryl groups in these glutenin species were particularly involved in the changes occurring at 55–75°C. These data indicate that there are heat-induced alterations in gluten proteins at temperatures above 55°C, which appear to be involved in the loss of functionality (baking performance) on heating. It is postulated that the glutenin proteins are unfolded on heating up to 75°C and that this facilitates sulphydryl/disulphide interchange between exposed groups. The protein is then ‘locked’ into the denatured state on cooling due to this disulphide bond rearrangement. At temperatures above 75°C the gliadin proteins are also affected, involving similar mechanisms.[...]

J.D.Schofield, R.C.Bottomley, M.F.Timms, M.R.Booth, The effect of heat on wheat gluten and the involvement of sulphydryl-disulphide interchange reactions, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0733-5210(83)80012-5

[...]Oscillatory measurements of optimally hydrated vital gluten describing network properties of the material show two structural changes along a temperature ramp from 25 to 90 °C: at 56–64 °C, the temperature necessary to trigger structural changes increases with the ratio of gliadin to total protein mass, determined by reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC). At a temperature of 79–81 °C, complete protein denaturation occurs.[...]

Monika C.Wehrlia, Tim Kratky, Marina Schopf, Katharina A. Scherf, Thomas Becker, Mario Jekle, Thermally induced gluten modification observed with rheology and spectroscopies, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2021.01.008

The recipe you provided gave 160F for an internal temperature when baking, which also falls in the ranges stated above. The 190-200F+ temperature for breads is for the rapid dehydration of starches via escaping steam, otherwise the crumb would remain damp and doughy.

The gluten structure in the linked recipe also appeared to have already been well-developed prior to heating. Gluten structure can be formed at room temperature as seen there and in high-hydration no-knead bread recipes.

My experience with canned seitan and fried seitan, both commercially produced, is that it can easily withstand boiling temperatures and higher with little to no effect on texture. The starch component in the chickpeas, however, may go past gelling point and weep moisture when chilled if over hydrated and boiled.

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The recipe calls for an internal temperature of 160F when baked. I would use the same internal temperature if you are going to simmer. There is no reason to change it. The best thing to do is use a probe thermometer or thermocouple to check the temperature at the center of the cylinder. You could remove the bag from the bath, check the temp, and return it to the bag and bath if more time is needed...all without too much difficulty.

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  • Not using that recipe at all. Just cited as one one few examples of internal temp. Looking for an answer as why that temp -or any temp- for seitan.
    – Pat Sommer
    Jul 9, 2021 at 22:37

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