Day Three in the Gluten Free 101 : Getting Started Series - Setting Up a Gluten Free Kitchen
You have a good understanding of what gluten is and you have learned how to shop for GF food at the grocery store, now you need to dig in and clean out that kitchen.
Once you have a good idea of what gluten is, you need to go through your refrigerator, pantry and even your medicine cabinet and either get ride of everything that is not GF or clearly label it as not GF for someone else in the family to use. Even if your butter and jam is GF, in the beginning you will need to buy new dedicated GF containers of the same. You do not want to eat butter that may have been contaminated with a knife with gluten on it. The same may be true for sugar as well if someone dipped a measuring cup with wheat flour into the sugar jar.
Because of contamination issues, clean anything out of your kitchen that could have the residue of gluten on it. A good scrubbing or trip through the dishwasher will get most non-porous items such as glass, metal and Pyrex clean. Anything that can hold some residue of gluten should be replaced. The main items you are going to want to replace with designated gluten free items include:
- Cutting boards,
- Strainers – a good cleaning will probably be okay but it depends on how the strainer is made.
- Wood spoons,
- Bread maker if you have one,
- Grills - a lot of marinades contain soy sauce that is made with wheat. You may be able to bake off the residue, but I like being extra safe.
- Cookie sheets - a good scrubbing may get any former gluten residue off but I was a little too paranoid to use my old cookie sheets for my now gluten free cookies.
- Cleaning sponges or scrub brushes – you don’t want to clean your GF dishes etc. with a scrub brush that has been contaminated with gluten.
- Any other porous items.
After you have sorted through the food items and appliances, this is a good time to give everything in your kitchen a good wipe down including your refrigerator and the inside of your oven.
Only going Partially GF:
Eventually you are going to have to decide how far to go on the gluten free lifestyle change. Most likely, similar to my family, only one or two eat gluten free. In our family, my oldest daughter was initially diagnosed with celiac disease. For a few years, we had a shared gluten and non-gluten free kitchen.
If you have very small children, it may be easy to just cook gluten free for them. I know some families with toddler and preschool-aged children who bake gluten free pizza for the little ones and still order carry out for themselves.
If you only go partially GF, you still need to buy a dedicated GF toaster, cutting boards, strainers, wood spoons, and any other porous items that could trap gluten and clearly label them GF. Buy dedicated cleaning sponges and scrub brushes for your GF areas and items. Clearly label all of your dedicated GF appliances etc.
Set up a dedicated gluten free area in your kitchen or pantry where you can put your gluten free toaster and products. Clearly label these areas and make sure they are above any areas that have wheat items. You do not want the crumbs from your wheat crackers to contaminate your GF area. Make it a rule that nothing with gluten on it ever touches the counter in your GF area of the kitchen.
Dedicate the top shelves in your refrigerator as gluten free and clearly labeled it as your “gluten free only” area. Keep separate and label all gluten free spreads, butters, and condiments. You do not want someone sticking a knife that has run over a piece of wheat toast in your GF butter dish.
Having these areas clearly labeled makes it easier on baby sitters, sometimes spouses and any company that you have over.
Going GF all of the way.
Eventually more than half of my family went gluten free. I soon realized that, at a minimum, I have gluten intolerance. A few years later, we realized my middle child was also gluten intolerant so it became easier for our entire kitchen to become GF as well.
I think it actually means a lot to my GF kids to have a safe GF environment at home. No matter how good of a show the child puts on, it can be hurtful when other people eat gluten around them. Our kitchen is a safe haven where they don't feel constantly deprived and where they can eat anything in the refrigerator and pantry without worry. This also greatly diminishes the cross-contamination issues in our kitchen. We now just have one toaster, one jar of jam, one container of butter etc. After being GF for eight years, we also don’t eat a lot of bread and other things that could have wheat in them. It is easier and less expensive to stick with a diet that is naturally gluten free. Plus, it is easier for me to cook one meal every night.
My Favorite Kitchen Appliances for My GF Kitchen.
In the last eight years, I have gone from having no-idea how to cook to being a pretty good gluten free chef (at least to my family). Along the way, I have picked up a few new appliances that I consider essential. I really believe in the simpler gluten free lifestyle and that carries over into my kitchen, so I don't have a ton of appliances. But here is a list of my favorite appliances that I would be sad not to have in my GF kitchen. Of course the two appliances we use most are our toaster and coffee maker. This is a list of "extra" appliances that will help in your GF cooking. I even listed them in order of importance to me.
- Cuisinart Mini-Prep Processor This may seem surprising but I use my mini processor as much as anything else in my kitchen. It is great for grinding up a quick topping for baked chicken fingers, some almonds if I need to make some almond flour, chopping up an onion, making chicken salad. It is something that I would really miss if I did not have it.
- KitchenAid Series 5-Quart Mixer This would be my second most favorite appliance. I love my KitchenAid Mixer. I use it at least five times a week for making everything from a quick batch of GF brownies to perfectly whipped mashed potatoes. I even shred Cheddar Cheese with an attachment. If you can afford it, you will not regret buying it.
- Cuisinart Food Processor This appliance gets used 1 -2 times a week depending on the season. It is great for whipping up some hummus or Thai peanut sauce. You can also make GF bread dough in a food processor.
- Cuisinart CPM-100 EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker Popcorn is a pretty regular snack at our house so this get used a lot too. I even make it and put it in the kids lunch boxes.
- Zojirushi BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme 2-Pound-Loaf Breadmaker You might be surprised that I put this one last. I think a breadmaker is a nice luxury if you can afford it, but you can make bread without a breadmaker. Having the breadmaker simplifies the process - you just pour everything in and turn it on. If you have the time, you can be successful at making GF bread without a breadmaker.
This list should get you started. If you want to see more of my favorite things, visit the Kitchen Accessories Section of my Gluten Free Mom's Store.