How to Equip Your Gluten-Free Kitchen
With a few well-chosen resources and tools, you can safely feed yourself gluten-free and create your own recipes. Following are the essentials — and a few nice-to-have items — to get you started.
You can share utensils with gluten-eaters if the utensils are very clean each time you cook — but not within the same meal. Don’t flip gluten-free and gluten-filled pancakes with the same spatula or use the same pan. Keep everything separate for cooking and serving. Make sure gluten-free dishes have their own serving utensils, and watch that utensils that have been in gluten-containing food never make their way into the gluten-free stuff.
Before outfitting your kitchen, check with your parents to see what they have. They may be thrilled to hand over their perfectly good kitchen gadgets — and appreciate the excuse to upgrade.
Resources for your gluten-free kitchen
The most important tool in your kitchen is your head. It tells you what to cook, whether your food looks right, how to avoid dangerous crumbs, and so on. Of course, having some food-related reference materials on hand helps, too.
Here are some helpful resources for a gluten-free kitchen:
Cookbooks: An easy gluten-free cookbook and favorite recipe websites can be lifesavers when you don’t know what to cook for yourself. Be sure to have some gluten-free bread recipes on hand so you’re ready to address that unavoidable bread or cookie craving when it hits.
Friends and family: Do you have gluten-free friends or family? They’re a great resource for advising you on cooking issues that may arise. Even if Mom and Dad aren’t gluten-free, they may have some great cooking tips to share with you.
Restaurant options: Keep a list of gluten-free offerings from local restaurants. Find out which gluten-free foods a restaurant offers by looking at menus online and asking the manager when you visit.
Cookware and bakeware for a gluten-free kitchen
Having a small kitchen filled with too much stuff can be frustrating, so try to avoid having too many pot and pan choices. You can share pans with gluten-eaters if you wash thoroughly; however, it’s always easier to have your own set if a trace of gluten can make you ill. You can get by easily with the following pots, pans, and baking dishes:
Pans: Get one small (8-inch) and one medium (10-inch) nonstick skillet.
Pots: Be sure to have a small (2-quart) and a medium (3-quart) nonstick saucepan along with a pot large enough to cook pasta (6-quart).
If the pots you may use have been used to cook glutenous foods before and they have any deep scratches, buy new pots.
Bakeware: Choose glass, metal, or ceramic bakeware in these sizes: a square 8-x-8-inch baking pan and a rectangular 9-x-13-inch pan. A 9-inch pie plate, a muffin tin, and two cookie sheets are also helpful.
Electrics for your gluten-free kitchen
Buy these few appliances, and you’re in business to cook in the modern world:
Toaster/toaster oven: Many gluten-free breads are better toasted, and the toaster oven affords a quick way to heat up a meal or broil something topped with cheese.
Microwave: This appliance offers the quickest way to cook a potato or a bowl of soup or reheat a refrigerated or frozen meal.
Electric mixer: You don’t necessarily need a fancy, expensive one. A hand mixer does the job just fine.
Blender: A blender is a college necessity. Use a blender for quick smoothies. Even a small hand blender can do the trick.
Can opener: Buy a good quality can opener. Especially for premade soups and other ingredients, you’ll want a reliable way to get at the goods inside the can. A small, inexpensive electric can opener can make your life much easier.
Other tools for a gluten-free kitchen
If you’re in a house or apartment, the following kitchen tools allow you to chop, measure, stir, flip, scrape, mash, and otherwise prepare and serve your food:
Mixing bowls: You need three mixing bowls: small, medium, and large.
Serving bowls: Be sure to have two to three serving bowls.
Knives and cutting boards: Keep your own cutting boards to make sure they’re used only for gluten-free items. Use one board for raw meat and fish and another for everything else.
Measuring cups and spoons: These are must-haves for baking!
Spatulas: Get a large spatula and a small one for flipping and serving.
Whisk: A whisk is a great way to make sure things are mixed well without having to pull out a blender or mixer.
Large spoons: You need big spoons for stirring as well as serving.
Vegetable peeler: Use a vegetable peeler for peeling all sorts of produce, especially apples, carrots, and potatoes.
Potato masher: Use a potato masher to make mashed potatoes and to mash up ingredients in soups while they’re cooking.
Colander: A colander drains your pasta or veggie water after boiling. It’s tough to get each little hole cleaned out, so have one dedicated to gluten-free food prep.
Potholders: Grab a potholder before grabbing your hot pots and cookware. These can get crumbs on them, so it’s best to have a dedicated set for gluten-free reaching.