Whether, it’s simply a dietary preference (ie “I don’t like grains and gluten filled foods”) , a health or medical requirement (ie “I have a gluten or cross reactive sensitivity”), or literally a life saving change (ie “I am ceoliac and this stuff could literally kill me”), when you make the decision to go gluten free, there are many major changes that you need to make. One of those changes is setting up your kitchen so that it is safe from gluten.
Here are some simple steps you can follow to help make your kitchen safe and gluten free.
1. Start by getting rid of gluten-containing foods
You will need to discard, or give away the food items that contain gluten or may have been contaminated by gluten in the past.
I actually struggled a bit with this. I didnt want to waste food, but then if I was getting rid of it because I thought it was bad for my health… I couldn’t help feeling somewhat bad palming it off on to the in-laws!
Examples of food products that likely contain gluten include flour, bread, baking mixes, and certain sauces. It may actually be worthwhile either doing some further research or getting hold of some books to help you identify what contains gluten …it can really suprise you!
Many food items that may have been cross contaminated include baking soda and baking powder, peanut butter, jam, butter, ketchup and mustard, for example. Basically, these items become contaminated when they have come in contact with gluten-containing particles. This can happen very easily and innocently. For example, if you or another family member uses the same spoon in the flour and then the baking soda, cross contamination has occurred. Another example is if your squeezable mustard container’s tip has accidentally touched a gluten-containing bun. Therefore, you will need to replace these food items with new, uncontaminated ones.
But before re-stocking, make sure you do the following two steps to prevenyt cross-contamination!
2. Replace kitchen utensils
You will not need to replace everything in your kitchen, but you will definitely need to replace certain items that are contaminated by gluten.
Examples of some of these items include:
- silicone spatulas
- colander and other strainers
- non-stick pans with scratches
- plastic bowls that have scratches in them, plastic utensils
- wooden cutting boards, wooden spoons, and wooden bowls
- mustard and ketchup containers, etc.
- rolling pin
- muffin tins or other baking sheets with scratches
3. Clean items in your kitchen thoroughly
Some of the items that cannot be cleaned thoroughly enough to be safe from gluten have been outlined above. However, some items can be cleaned enough that you can use them again. Here are some examples:
Stainless steel bowls and pots:
Just make sure to clean them well. Also be sure to clean the lids fully.
Oven & Stovetop:
Clean the top, sides, and bottom of the oven, as well as the oven racks.
Cupboards and drawers:
Bread crumbs seem to make their way into all sorts of places, including the utensil drawers and the cupboards. Sometimes, they even get into the fridge. Take this opportunity to do some spring or fall cleaning, and vacuum up all the crumbs.
Refrigerator and freezers:
Be sure to clean up the shelves to remove any crumbs or spills. Be sure to scrub any seals.
Benchtops and surfaces:
If your kitchen is to be a safe haven for gluten-intolerant people, you must wipe down every surface and clean it with soap and water before you restock the pantry, fridge, and freezer. Baking uses a lot of powders (flour, baking powder, spices, and so on) that can drift in the air and land on just about every available surface… it’s kinda like sand… gets everywhere!
Avoiding cross contamination in a shared kitchen
If you are sharing a kitchen with people who are not following a gluten free diet, then there are a whole lot more considerations to ensure you don’t get cross contamination.
Set up a separate, gluten-free space in the kitchen
An example of separate space includes dedicating a part of your kitchen pantry or cupboard space to gluten free food products and those that have not been contaminated by gluten.
In addition to food items, you can also include all your gluten-free utensils and other kitchen gadgets (ex. toaster) that need to remain separate to stay uncontaminated.
It can also be helpful to ensure you and your family has a way of knowing which baking utensils, cutting boards, and so forth are meant to be kept gluten free, and which ones are meant for the gluten-containing foods. You can do this by using a consistent color scheme. For example, all gluten-free spatulas and cutting boards are red.
Unless you have the space for two refrigerators, you will have to share it. In this case, you want to label your items and teach your family members that they are not to touch those labeled with your name because contact with gluten will make you sick.
Speaking of the refrigerator, you may also want to create a separate space such as one of the shelves or the side of the fridge. Just be sure that no other foods can spill on yours when they are all in the fridge together.
Clean the counter
Before you begin to prepare food, be sure to clean the kitchen counter with soapy, warm water.
Clean the sink
Make sure no crumbs or gluten-containing foods are left in the bottom of the sink before you use it. As well, be sure to use a separate dishcloth and separate dishtowel to prevent cross contamination with food particles.
Allow your family or roommates to confess without repercussions if they make a mistake
If you live with an absent-minded spouse or a child, it is very likely that someone will mess up and accidentally contaminate one of your food items or kitchen items.
When this happens, it is important for them to know that they can tell you without you getting mad at them. This will ensure healthy communication, and ensure that you stay healthy.
Wash shared kitchen items
It is okay to share stainless steel bowls, and stainless steel pots and pans, as long as they have been carefully washed after gluten-containing foods have been prepared or cooked in them. Pay careful attention to lids, where food particles can sometimes get caught.
By impementing these tips you have started well on yur way to creating a kitchen sapce that will be safe for your gluten free life!