A few years ago, I won an entrepreneurship competition and launched a gluten-free “Pi” business, defined as anything that had an outer shell and a filling. That business didn’t survive, but the collective wisdom of its founders did. Here’s something we shared on our former website:
Converting your home kitchen so that is safe for gluten-free eaters may seem daunting. Luckily, we’ve done a ton of research already to figure out how to create a safe environment in our commercial kitchen. You may need to follow the most stringent practices or feel comfortable with a more lenient approach. Either way, there are some practices that we feel can’t be skipped and we wanted take the opportunity to share what we have learned.
We recognize that there are many different comfort levels and degrees of sensitivity, and there’s a lot of contradictory information out there. Some people are told that they must have a fully dedicated gluten-free kitchen, Others suggest that as long as food is free of gluten-containing ingredients, it’s safe. Whatever practices you follow, there are some key strategies that are generally accepted and we have found to be essential:
Clean: First, all shared surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned prior to making gluten-free food. The GFCO recommends using a gluten-free apple cider vinegar as a cleanser. We like to use Eden Organic: http://www.edenfoods.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=103480 . Because of their transparent allergen statement, we trust that all of the ingredients in the product are identifiable.
Sanitize: The next generally accepted rule is that all bowls, pots, pans, baking racks, silverware, etc. should be sterilized in a dishwasher before being used. If you feel concerned about sharing kitchen tools, you may choose to keep two sets of everything and store them separately. If you’re completely eliminating gluten from your household, consider removing all items previously used to produce gluten-containing food and stock your kitchen with new tools.
Embrace Metal: Wood is porous and gluten particles can be easily trapped within. Therefore, it is critical that only dedicated gluten-free wooden spoons, rolling pins, cutting boards, and utensils are used. If you are in a shared kitchen, all dedicated wooden tools must be stored in air-tight containers. To be safe, we recommend this practice for all utensils with wooden handles as well. Similarly, any utensils or appliances that have lots of crevices, such as mixing blades or micro planes, should not be shared between gluten-free and gluten-eating members of a household.
Organize: If you’re going to keep both gluten-free and gluten-containing flours in the house, store the gluten-free flours in air-tight containers and on the top shelf. The rationale for this is that if gluten-containing flour floats in the air, it won’t contaminate the gluten-free flour as it settles. When selecting condiments such as ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise, choose products that come in squeeze bottles to help eliminate cross contamination.
TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT?
Now, onto the most important thing, the food…
GF or Not GF???
Spelt is NOT gluten-free. It’s not even wheat-free. Spelt is actually another form of wheat. If you are gluten-intolerant, please don’t eat this!
Providing that allergies are not present, whole grain rice, quinoa, and millet are safe and high in both protein and fiber. Make a pilaf, add the grains to chicken broth, toss in a salad, or eat them with beans. We recommend keeping canisters of these grains, along with dried beans, as a pantry staple. Too busy to cook? Consider making a stew or soup once a week so you have a safe, heat-and-eat meal ready anytime.
Dairy, soy, nut, and corn products do not naturally contain gluten, but many people with gluten-sensitivity cannot tolerate some or all of these ingredients. All fresh fruits vegetables and meats are gluten-free, but your ability to eat them depends on your own allergy profile and/or your preference or ability to digest animal protein. If you have eliminated gluten but are still having symptoms, you may be suffering from an undiagnosed food sensitivity. Under the care of a physician, many have found it helpful to eliminate all allergenic foods from their diet and slowly add them back one at a time to identify which foods may be triggering symptoms.
The working Pi team was made up of six women. Four of us were gluten-intolerant, one was vegan, one was vegetarian, and one girl could eat everything but refused. Despite all of our differences, we did not go hungry when we got together!