Setting up a Gluten Free Kitchen

If you’ve been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, what’s your next step to feeling better?  A completely gluten free diet without cross contamination is the only way to treat Coeliac Disease.  Ongoing ingestion of gluten will continue to cause health problems so it’s time to either segregate or eliminate gluten from your kitchen.  Stopping cross contamination at home is relatively simple, once you have reorganised and got used to the new normal.  These easy steps are designed to guide you through the process.

  1. Check all food in the house

If you are moving your kitchen to a completely gluten free state, you will probably need to remove quite a large amount food.  Check everything in your pantry, fridge, freezer and the cannisters on the bench, for gluten as an ingredient and for traces of gluten.  Check sauces, spices, condiments and every other foodstuff you can find.  Click here for some unusual places you might find gluten in your pantry.

Give all unwanted gluten foods to friends or local food charities.  Consider how you have used opened packages of gluten free baking supplies such as sugar or baking soda.  These may have already been gluten contaminated with measuring spoons or the like in the past. Opened spreads and condiments are also most likely gluten contaminated and therefore need to be removed.  A knife used to butter toast will contaminate butters and jams and other spreads as double dipping in many households is the norm.  We’ve all seen crumbs in the butter!

If you are not sure what you are looking for, or confused as to how to read the ingredients list for gluten, check out our article on label reading.  

  1. Clearly mark your food’s gluten free status

Not everyone wishes to move the whole household to a gluten free diet.  If you clearly mark foods as containing gluten or alternatively as being gluten free, you can easily have separate gluten and gluten free packs.  Different coloured dot stickers are a great visual reminder on separate butters and spreads in the fridge. Green for gluten free and red for gluten is one idea, but a marker to scribble words on top also works.  Most people who do have separate gluten and gluten free condiments also have specific shelves or drawers where the individual items are placed.  Separate areas in the fridge and pantry are common.

  1. Dedicate food preparation areas

It might be time to reorganise your kitchen.  Separate gluten and gluten free storage and prep areas will help stop cross contamination.   Every kitchen is different but consider having the area above the cutlery draw as the gluten free one. Then if crumbs do fall in, they will be gluten free. Similarly, gluten free products should ideally be above gluten products in the pantry or fridge.

Separate toasters, chopping boards and colanders are recommended.  These are all hard to clean items.  Separate saucepans, storage containers, cutlery, crockery and other kitchen equipment are not required if they can be properly cleaned in between uses.  If space prohibits a separate toaster, toaster bags in a normal toaster with the crumbs always wiped off the top can be used.

  1. Educate your household on the importance of stopping cross contamination

It is all well and good to have done all the work, but if household members continue to double dip the knife into the wrong butter, then what was the point in separating them.  All members of the household need to know and understand your system.  Signs and stickers are also great visual reminders when you have ‘’outsiders” visit your home.  They make life easier for babysitters, friends or relatives.

  1. Continue on the gluten free journey

Now that you have reorganised, checked and educated, here’s a few more tips to keep in mind as you use your kitchen on a daily basis.

  • Most main meals can be cooked gluten free for the whole family.  You don’t always need to cook separate meals.  By simply changing one ingredient many meals become gluten free. It can be as simple as dusting pans, fish or meats with gluten free flour instead of glutened flour, or having gluten free buns on hands when everyone is having burgers.
  • Always use clean oil for frying, and fry the gluten free foods first.
  • Sauces and mustards in squeeze bottles are a great way of dispensing condiments and limiting cross contamination.
  • If you don’t have much freezer space, think about buying one.  Lots of gluten free breads and cakes store well in freezers.
  • For BBQS and toasted sandwich makers, baking paper or BBQ mats stop cross contamination.
  • When cooking gluten and gluten free foods at the same time, use separate, perhaps colour coded tongs and spoons. 
  • Cleaning is important of course for general hygiene but also to prevent cross contamination in a shared kitchen.  Clean your benches before preparing food, clean the oven if there are splatters or spills, wash your hands after handling glutened food, regularly clean the crumb tray of the toaster and always wash off all baked-on foods from your pans.

Preparing your kitchen can be quite daunting, but once it’s done, life is so much easier and safer for those requiring a gluten free environment.   

Good Luck with your new kitchen and your improved health; and if you need more ideas and other gluten free tips, have a browse through our many different blog articles at Helpful Gluten Free Tips, Recipes and Ideas from our Experts