Gluten Free Pantry: The Purge

Gluten Free Pantry:  Approaching this may make you feel like you're stepping into a horror movie.  I'm here to encourage you and help you to have the confidence to take on these tasks trusting that it's not as hard as you think.  That said I want you to be aware that this may bring up some emotions as you say goodbye to some old friends that will no longer be a part of your life.  Give yourself some time because you’ll need to go through each and every item, read the label and decide if it stays or goes.  Arm yourself with your gluten free food list and your laptop, tablet or smartphone to look up any brands you’re not sure of*, then dig in.  Make space on the counter or table and create 3 groups:

If you live in Canada you can trust labels. 

Go here for health Canada's guidance on gluten free labelling and here for a comprehensive guide from the Canadian Celiac Association.
If you live in the US,  here are the USDA guidelines

If you live in a country with less strict guidelines then you'll want to look up every brand or even call the manufacturer.

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Gluten Free Pantry Step 1: Make 3 Piles

Gluten Free Keep

Contains Gluten Keep


Suggestions and things to watch for:


Proceed With

Stop: Unsafe

Spices:  Are naturally gluten- free although some may processed in facilities that also produce products that contain flour.  Check the labels.  For the most part spices may remain in your gluten free pantry.

Spice Blends: Be careful.  Even if you recognize the brand, many blends contain gluten.  Check the labels 

Oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, salad oil etc:  Naturally gluten free

Vinegars:  Are naturally gluten free except malt vinegar which is likely made from barley malt

Baking products such as baking powder or baking soda:
Cross contamination risk! These products should be fine when new.  Read labels of course.  Also consider if you may have cross contaminated these items yourself by dipping a spoon into wheat flour and then into the baking powder.  If in doubt, throw it out.  

Packaged mixes such as marinades or gravy mixes, sauce or dressing mixes: Read every package carefully and have the computer handy so you can look up brands.  Many food producers have websites and will include allergy information.  If not send them an email.  If in know.

Puddings, pie fillings, jelly powder:  Probably okay, check labels and / or manufacturers websites to be sure.

Cake and muffin mixes:  Most likely contain wheat flour unless they are specifically gluten free.  Decide if they go in the gluten-keep pile for the family or the gluten-toss pile.

Spreads like peanut butter, jams, jellies etc: 
Cross contamination risk! If the knife goes in the jar then onto the toast and back in the jar, it’s contaminated!  These things can go in the “keep for the family” pile, but you need to buy new ones for yourself.  

Naturally Gluten-Free Tip:

Starting now, you can take one of two approaches. 

Either teach the family not to double dip
Keep separate jars for yourself clearly labelled “Gluten Free, no bread crumbs please”. 

The family can still have it but they have a good clear reminder of the need to be careful.  Same goes for the butter dish.  You can have a separate one for wheat bread, or just teach the fam not to cross contaminate.

Legumes and other grains:
Cross contamination risk!  Although beans, peas, lentils etc do not contain gluten they are considered to be a high risk item as they are often contaminated in the field or are packaged in facilities that also process gluten containing products.  Read labels and / or check with the producer.

I’ve had no problems with other grains like rice, millet, amaranth, teff, buckwheat.  I have found nothing on the web or in any books I’ve read that suggest contamination is a concern.  I’ve eaten lots of these items and have had no issues. 

The one exception is oats.  Oats are often rotated with wheat in the fields, harvested with the same equipment and processed in the same facilities.  Buy only certified gluten free oatmeal or oat flour.

Gluten Free Pantry Step 2: Search and Destroy....
every last molecule of gluten.

Now is the time to clean your gluten free pantry, thoroughly.  Fill the sink with nice hot soapy water and get a clean cloth.  Wipe every shelf right back into the corners.  Rinse your cloth often and change the water if necessary.  Any cupboards that have had flour or flour based baking mixes in them need special attention.  Flour is sneaky and finds its way into nooks and crannies.

Gluten Free Pantry Step 3: Everything in its place

Before you start putting things away take a look at the cupboard space and what’s left in the gluteny “keep for the family” pile and the gluten free pile.  Consider what you’ll need to buy and determine how much space gluten free food needs versus the gluteny stuff. 

You may want to keep them in separate cupboards, but at the very least they need separate shelves. 

You may find you rearrange this a few times over the coming months.  I started out about half and half gluten free and gluten shelves in my pantry but as I started cooking more gluten free food for the whole family and replacing items over time, now there is only one shelf for items containing gluten. 

Label the shelves clearly and make sure everyone puts stuff away properly.  As you’re putting stuff back in the pantry wipe all the containers.  That pesky, dusty flour gets everywhere.

Next, on to the refrigerator

Same process for the fridge.  Go through everything and create piles.  Item’s like jams and spreads may be contaminated so replace and / or label as appropriate.  Wipe down the shelves and wipe all the containers as you put them back.

Don’t put that bottle of wine back in the fridge just yet.  You’ve just completed a big job and you deserve a reward

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