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Probably one of the hardest things about maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle isn’t eating the “different” foods per-say- it is actually keeping a cross-contamination friendly atmosphere. This is especially important for those with Celiac Disease since the tiniest crumb can lay someone flat on their back for days. However, it is important to note this isn’t necessarily the case for all gluten sensitive individuals but, regardless I feel it is still important non-the less to know just how to eliminate these potential risk factors for their consumption safety.
Gluten-Free; 10 Ways to Prevent Cross Contamination
- Label everything the black sharpie marker is your friend.
- Freeze Gluten-Free flours in sealed bags/containers. It is important to make sure that these bags and containers seal tightly to eliminate any glutinous flour dust or potential food crumbs that may be lingering in the fridge or freezer. We store all of our gluten free flours in the freezer to help maintain their freshness.
- Store gluten-free items on the top shelf of the fridge, freezer, and pantry to best eliminate the potential waterfall of crumbs that so often likes to trickle down to the bottom shelves. We have designated gluten free shelves and cupboards in our home especially since our GF consumers are only 5, 3, and 1 – I need them to “know” where their safe food is and how to find it if mom is not around.
- Buy a new toaster or at a minimum use a different assigned gluten-free slot if cross contamination issues are not as severe. The two left slots of our toaster are designated “gluten-free“. Only gluten-free items get toasted in there and we frequently clean the entire toaster of remaining left over crumbs.
- Never use a pan, skillet, or grill that has been used to prepare non gluten free meals. All pots, pans, grills, and utensils must be washed thoroughly before cooking gluten-free meals. One of the easiest ways to identify GF cooking utensils, flour sifters, and cutting boards is to have an entirely new set in a different color- or, at a minimum label the handles to eliminate any potential confusion. Gluten is tricky and those tiny food particles can hide in the most unlikely of places.
- NO double dipping- ever. This includes butter, peanut butter, jams, jellies, dips, mayonnaise, and other condiments. The knife, spoon, or any other utensil used to spread, dollop, or sample should never meet the jar or container twice. This is a huge potential cross-contamination mishap.
- There is no such thing as safely removing croutons from a salad, bun from a burger, or cracker crumbs that once had a place on the plate. The residual crumbs can still cause big problems. The only thing that is safe is for the two to never meet.
- Hand washing and changing gloves are a must when handling gluten-free food. Restaurants, school cafeterias, camps, and family gatherings often have non gluten free food near by as a necessary precaution before handling the gluten-free food good hygiene should always be practiced.
- Aluminum foil and disposable serving items – I just love the stuff. Ok, so cooking on aluminum is not my “ideal” or preferred way of cooking but it is a sure fire way to keep my kids safe and make for an easy clean up. Yes, I could go buy new cookie sheets, muffin tins, and the like but for now the disposable lining products have been a life saver. Of course makes sure the tray has been thoroughly cleaned prior to use but then proceed to line it with foil to help further protect against any remaining sticky gluten particles. Paper plates although not the most Eco-friendly certainly can help eliminate the risks of lingering crumbs.
- Cook and serve your gluten-free guests first. My daughter (Crafty-bee) absolutely loves this – she thinks it is great that she always gets served before anyone else- it doesn’t matter whether it is a birthday, family gathering, or just everyday meals. The best and seriously the easiest way to prevent gluten cross-contamination issues is make the gluten-free meal and then get rid of it as soon as possible. The shorter the food remains on the counter the less likely other non-safe lingering gluten crumbs have to contaminate the dish.