Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 9: The Protose Chronicles, Part I


Long before you could wander down to the local grocery and pick up tofu or tempeh, there was protose. Protose was/is a vegan protein food, usually based on beans and peanuts, which was sold canned, in different variations, by companies related to the Adventist church. It's not so common nowadays, so you have to resort to making your own. I found a recipe online, from an unnamed 1946 cookbook. With some tiny alterations from the linked original, here is what I tried:

1 c peanut butter (creamy, natural)
1 c mashed beans (I used canned, drained, red kidney beans)
2 c vegetable broth
2 T cornstarch
1 t granulated onion
1 t sage
1/2 t granulated garlic
1/2 t salt

Blend everything together until smooth. Pour into a greased double boiler, and steam for 3 hours.

The good news: it really does taste good. The bad news: it is far too mushy to chop up in a stew, or fry. The texture is basically that of cream cheese. I had some for breakfast on caraway bread, with a slice of tomato, broiled until hot, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it would make an excellent stand-in for refried beans in any Mexican-ish dish, and that is likely the fate of the remaining portion.

Seeing how liquid the batter was, I worried. And rightly so. To get a solid result, I think you would have to cut the liquid significantly (perhaps by half) and probably add more binder of some kind. I have noticed the presence of vital wheat gluten in some later homemade protose recipes, and vwg might be the path to firm-textured success, although it would sacrifice the gluten-free-ness.

Beyond future protose experimenting, this adventure has made me curious about adding peanut butter to refried beans and similar dishes.

8 comments:

panda with cookie said...

I'd never heard of this. Is it anything like tartex? I love the convenience of that but it is hard to get here. I'd like a sandwich spread option that isn't hommus.

JohnP said...

Yes, it is somewhat tartex-like. I think you could get a pretty good tartex clone by reducing the liquid a bit (but not a lot) and upping some of the seasonings (and maybe adding a little soy sauce and/or a spoonful of marmite).

Dave said...

Funny, I was gonna post about protose in my next blog entry. Time to write up something new I guess.

I tried to identify the cookbook but couldn't find anything that fit the description on google books.

The lack of gluten in the recipe doesn't seem right. Most things I've seen about protose indicate that it contained gluten. The recipe on this site does http://www.fourpoundsflour.com/history-dish-mondays-protose/

And this post on branded meat substitutes is very informational: http://polyglotveg.blogspot.com/2008/03/branded-meat-substitutes.html

JohnP said...

Dave, thanks for the info! Don't hold back - there can never be too many protose posts!

machopineapple said...

It looks kind of like liverwurst.

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

You are blowing my mind!

Stephanie Brown said...

Glad the bacon worked out. :) I've heard that there's an eggplant bacon recipe in Appetite for Reduction that's pretty awesome, too. I'm going to try that next.

carijhaus said...

For those who don't have time to create their own Protose from scratch, there is a great new alternative called Proteinut. Manufactured by Cedar Lake Foods, it is the closest that some Protose lovers feel they have come to the original Protose. You can buy Proteinut online at http://www.cedarlakedirect.com/Cedar-Lake-Proteinut-Vegan-p18.html