If you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease, it is vital that you eliminate even small amounts of gluten from your diet to stay healthy. If you are more in it for the lifestyle, making your best-effort to eliminate most gluten from your diet most of the time, low-level cross-contamination is not an issue. Read on if your gluten free diet is a medical issue.
The gluten that stays in some kitchen utensils that could contaminate your food is a significant risk, yet the utensils themselves are quite inexpensive. In such cases you can throw your old utensils away and buy new ones. In other cases you can successfully wash the utensil or equipment and be perfectly safe. This article will help you decide what to keep and wash, what to replace, and what needs special attention, so that you can follow a successful gluten free diet.
Gluten Free Toaster
If you are making the switch from wheat-based bread to gluten-free bread, you need to switch to a gluten-free toaster as well. Toasters are obviously full of crumbs and the last thing you want is a wheat-based crumb on your gluten-free toast.
If you are running a mixed kitchen, you can keep the old toaster for gluten-based bread.
Gluten Free Small Appliances
Decontaminating small kitchen appliances of gluten may be easy, possible, or really too risky to try, depending on the appliance.
Something like a mixer is expensive and with careful washing can probably be decontaminated. Waffle irons are generally inexpensive and very hard to clean properly, so better you buy a new one and keep it gluten-free. The non-stick coatings on many bread-makers may make them possible to clean, but then again particles of gluten may be baked on and decide to release not when you wash them but during your third gluten-free batch of bread. Proceed with caution and consider buying replacement paddles and baking pan and keeping the rest of the unit.
Cutting boards could retain gluten particles in the cuts left by the bread knife. If you have plastic cutting boards, replace them. If you have expensive wooden ones, you can sand them down until all cuts disappear, and then use them as gluten-free-only cutting boards.
Gluten Free Colander/Strainer
Colanders are cheap, so you can easily replace them. On the other hand, you can probably decontaminate a metal colander in the dishwasher. While the risk and cost of avoidance are both on the low side, the consequences are high for celiacs especially, less so but significant for most with a gluten allergy, so consider replacement.
Gluten Free Flour Sifter/Sieve
Trying to convert a gluten-contaminated sieve or flour sifter to become gluten-free is pure folly. The tiny flour particles have a great variety of nooks and crannies to hide, and adding water in an attempt to clean it out is likely to make it stick all the more, only to release itself at some random time in the future. Best that you replace these items.
Gluten Free Wooden Utensils
Gluten is sticky, that’s one of the things it is good at. Wood is rough, giving sticky gluten plenty of opportunity to stick. New wooden utensils shouldn’t break the bank; on the other hand you could sand them down and you would be safe, if you want to take the time and trouble.
Gluten Free Dishes and Cutlery
Keeping dishes and cutlery gluten-free is fairly straightforward, even in a mixed kitchen: just wash them well. Make sure nothing is stuck between the fork tines – a nylon brush is very good at cleaning fork tines. So are dishwashers.
Exceptions are glazed dishes.
Gluten Free Mixing Bowls, Bake-ware, Pots
Mixing bowls are generally as easy to clean as any type of porcelain dish. Exceptions are wooden or unglazed mixing bowls.
Bake-ware varies. Unscratched non-stick bake-ware is probably easy to wash but not always. Scratches could give gluten a hold to bake on and stay, only to drop off again later.
Stainless steel pots and pans are easy to clean; if anything with gluten is really stuck on, you can use steel wool or a stainless steel pot scrubber to remove any possible contaminants. Cast iron pans can be scrubbed down to metal with steel wool and re-seasoned.
Gluten cross-contamination is a risk when you work utensils and appliances previously used to cook gluten. Some of these items are best replaced while others are easily washed. Use your best judgment in each case and find the balance between cost, if this is an issue, and safety, according to your level of risk tolerance.
What is your experience with converting a previously gluten-consuming kitchen to a gluten free kitchen? Please leave a comment.
- Mayo Clinic Going Gluten Free
- Personal experience