Avoiding Gluten Contamination When Preparing Gluten-Free Food
Sometimes the way you prepare and cook food can contaminate it with gluten. Here are some ways to avoid contaminating gluten-free food with gluten from other sources.
If you’re preparing two varieties of a meal, prepare the gluten-free meal first. Use separate utensils.
If you’re frying you can reuse cooking oil as gluten doesn’t dissolve in the oil. However, bits of batter or crumbs can stay on the surface. Always carefully scoop out any visible bits of batter or crumbs. Using fresh oil or frying the gluten-free version first is best.
Foil is a great way to avoid contamination. Use foil to keep foods separate when preparing, cooking, or storing.
Use coloured stickers or labels, or different coloured lids when storing food so you and others easily know which containers hold the gluten-free version. Setting up your system takes time, but will save time later and prevent mishaps.
If time is a problem, make a habit of cutting off the section of the food packet that says ‘gluten-free’ or the brand name and poke it into the storage container with your food.
Keep separate containers of margarine or butter in the fridge, or train your family to be scrupulous about wiping knives and not putting leftover margarine contaminated with crumbs back into the container. Keep a paper towel beside you when making sandwiches so you can wipe the knife before dipping back into the topping or spread.
Having separate storage spaces for the gluten-containing and gluten-free foods is convenient, and makes it easier to find gluten-free food quickly.
When cooking gluten-containing pasta, wash well your colander or strainer and tongs after use because pasta can leave a residue on utensils.
Your gluten-free meal can be contaminated by just a few crumbs from gluten-containing food. Be diligent about cleaning crumbs and remember the golden rule — when in doubt, leave it out.
Clean out the crumbs from the bottom of your toaster regularly, or use toaster bags that you slide your bread into before putting it into the toaster. You can buy toaster bags from some health food shops and through The Coeliac Society. Toaster bags are great when cooking toast in those huge, communal toasters in motel dining rooms.