Running a mixed gluten free kitchen with gluten-containing foods also is challenging but possible if you are careful and follow these guidelines.
The problem with mixed kitchens is cross-contamination, where gluten, mostly from wheat-based foods, finds its way into gluten-free cooking. This is bad news ifyou are celiac or have a gluten allergy!
Ideally, your kitchen will be completely gluten-free, but if this is not possible, you can still stay healthy if you take precautions and everyone using the kitchen follows the rules.
One general rule is to avoid cooking gluten-containing and gluten free meals at the same time. This will make following the rest of these rules much more successful. If this cannot be avoided, make sure you are using different preparation surfaces. Keep a counter or table gluten-free while other food is prepared in another part of the kitchen.
Keeping Gluten Free Surfaces
Crumbs, flour and other gluten-containing food particles on the counter can easily transfer themselves to gluten-free food. These gluten contaminants can hitch a ride on the bottom of pots or plates or stick to utensils, then drop off right when they are above or in your gluten free food. Or if you prepare your food directly on the counter, it can pick up gluten directly.
The best way to avoid cross contamination is to carefully wipe up surfaces after use. Use a damp cloth and always wipe in the same direction as you move across the surface so that all the crumbs and particles end up in the same place before final removal. Rinse the cloth thoroughly and then wipe the counter down again. Use a damp paper towel as the final pass so you can see if anything sticks to the towel (meaning it wasn’t wiped very well) or not (meaning the surface is clean and clear).
Before preparing any gluten free meal, always wipe the counter, even if you know it was cleaned after a gluten-containing meal was prepared, just to be absolutely sure.
Keeping Gluten Free Tableware
Tableware such as forks, knifes, spoons, plates, bowls and cups can easily be kept free of gluten with proper washing. A dishwasher is the easiest way. Hand washing is also fine.
Wash everything in warm, soapy water. As the water becomes noticeably dirty, drain the sink and start fresh. Use a scrub pad or even better, a brush. A dish brush is great at getting between the tines of the fork. Rinse all dishes after washing in water running directly from the tap. This will remove soap and any tiny food particles in the washing up water.
If using a dishwasher, inspect the forks to make sure nothing is caught between the tines.
Keeping Gluten Free Appliances
If you are running a mixed kitchen, you can keep the old toaster for gluten-based bread. In this case make sure you label each toaster carefully and ensure that each member of the household is clear on the importance of keeping gluten based bread out of the gluten-free toaster. If this is a problem (illiterate young children, lazy teenagers), store the gluten-free toaster in a cupboard and keep the gluten-enabled toaster on the counter. Those who care enough will take out and return the gluten free toaster, the rest will go for the convenience of the toaster on the counter.
Some mixers for example, may be OK if you just put the bowl and paddles in the dishwasher, however it depends on the dishwasher, where the items are placed in the dishwasher, and the design of the paddles. You may be better to have separate
Some small appliances can be cleaned easily, such as mixers, blenders and food processors. Follow the same instructions as for tableware above. All these types of appliances are designed to be washed, which is why they can be shared in a mixed kitchen.
Other appliances, such as waffle irons, aren’t a good fit for a mixed kitchen, or at least, you will have to have two sets of such appliances. Mark the gluten-free one prominently with coloured labels, markers, purchasing a very different brand etc. Keep gluten free appliances in the cupboard where they won’t be accidentally used for gluten-containing foods.
Cutting boards can be cleaned, but never the less, gluten can stick to wooden surfaces or hide in cracks and cuts of wood or plastic cutting boards.
Use separate, clearly marked cutting boards for best results.
Gluten Free Colander/Strainer
Colanders can be cleaned, especially in the dish washer. Metal ones are much easier to clean than plastic ones. You might be better to have separate colanders, especially if they are plastic, assuming you have room for storage in your kitchen.
Gluten Free Flour Sifter/Sieve
Forget about sharing a sieve or flour sifter. They can’t easily and reliably be cleaned. Use separate, carefully labeled sieves.
Gluten Free Wooden Utensils
Wood is hard to clean and be sure it is gluten-free. Use separate, carefully labeled wooden utensils.
Gluten Free Mixing Bowls, Bake-ware, Pots
Bake-ware, pots and mixing bowls can be washed so they can be shared, however you do need to watch out for a couple of things. Some pots use rivets that go from the inside of the pot to the handle. It can be hard to wash around the rivets so you might be better with more expensive pots without these rivets, or have two sets of pots. Bake-ware sometimes gets a layer of baked-on food that won’t come off when washed. If you find this happens with your bake-ware, have separate, well marked bake-ware.
What is your experience staying gluten free in a mixed kitchen? Please leave a comment.