6 Ways to Avoid Gluten Cross Contamination in Your Kitchen
When you learn that you can no longer consume gluten, 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. If you have a family or share your living space, being organised and taking care to avoid cross contamination becomes even more important.
It is not uncommon for one person in the family to require a gluten-free diet, whereas the rest of the family can eat a regular diet. As family meals are usually prepared in one, common kitchen, you will find both gluten free and gluten items there. The potential of cross contamination then becomes more or less a given. Needing to avoid the risk of cross contamination becomes more or less vital for the gluten free person depending on the level of their intolerance.
Here are some ways to avoid cross contamination in your kitchen
Set up a separate, gluten-free space in the kitchen
An example of a separate space could be to dedicate 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 (eg. toaster) that need to remain separate to stay uncontaminated.
It can also be helpful to ensure you and your family have 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. A consistent colour coding scheme could be very helpful here. For example, all gluten-free spatulas and cutting boards are green.
Unless you have the space for two refrigerators, you will have to share it. In this case, you want to label gluten free items. Teaching family members that they are not to mix those labeled as such because contact with gluten will the person sick goes without saying. 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 counter tops
Before you begin to prepare food, be sure to clean the kitchen counter with soapy, warm water. An alternative is using some vinegar mixed with warm water. The antibacterial properties of the vinegar will help to ensure that the surface is free of bacteria
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. This can of course happen with anyone. 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 the person with the gluten intolerance stays healthy.
Wash shared kitchen items thoroughly
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.
If the whole family decides to go gluten free here are some further ways to avoid cross contamination.
3 Steps to Making Your Kitchen Gluten Free
1. The most extreme way is to get rid of everything which contains gluten.
You will need to discard, or better yet, give away the food items that contain gluten or may have been contaminated by gluten in the past. Examples of food products that likely contain gluten include flour, bread, baking mixes, and certain sauces
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.
2. Replace some kitchen tools
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. Thoroughly clean items in the kitchen.
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 carefully.
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.
Although being gluten free does mean that you have to be careful what you eat, it does not mean you can not enjoy life. Neither does it mean you have to remain isolated and not enjoy common meals. It does mean though that some more thought and planning has to go into how and what you eat. The storage of your food items and tools you use for preparation are of equal importance.
I hope these guidelines will be of some help to you or someone you know. Are there any tips you would like to add to the list or any comments you would like to make? I am always happy to hear from you.
All the best