When you or a family member eats gluten free, a safe kitchen is a must. A completely gluten-free kitchen certainly makes shopping and meal planning and preparation easier, and you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination issues, but it’s not always practical for families whose members are not all required to eat gluten free. If you do have a kitchen that stocks foods containing gluten, you’ll be fine; just follow these tips to keep everyone safe.
Wash your hands frequently.
Washing your hands will help prevent cross-contamination of both food and utensils.
Thoroughly clean dishes, counters, and cooking surfaces.
Nonstick pans are easier to clean with little to no food residue left behind. Avoid porous cutting boards, such as wood and bamboo, which are hard to clean and have nooks and crannies where gluten can adhere. Single-use paper towels are best for cleaning up any spills or crumbs and drying hands because fabric dish towels can hold onto gluten-containing crumbs.
Clean kitchen drawers often.
Clean drawers often, especially silverware drawers because they are susceptible to crumbs. You may want to purchase a separate set of cooking and baking tools—perhaps in a different color or brand—to use exclusively for gluten-free meals. Store them in a separate drawer or container so they don’t get confused with regular utensils.
Buy separate containers of popular items like peanut butter and jams, and label one container as gluten-free to avoid confusion. You wouldn’t want someone making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to stick the wheat crumb–coated knife back in the peanut butter or jelly, making the rest of the jar unsafe for a gluten-free family member. To help avoid this, buy squeeze bottles of condiments when possible to help keep contaminated utensils from coming in contact with the condiment.
Store gluten-free foods separately.
Store foods separately, and clearly label them gluten-free. You can color-code the packages and containers with stickers or designate a pantry shelf or area in the refrigerator for only gluten-free items.
Invest in extra appliances.
Invest in an extra colander, sifter, toaster, toaster oven, and other kitchen appliances and utensils that can be difficult to clean. Label them for gluten-free use only.
Prepare gluten-free meals first.
If you’re making two meals—one containing gluten and one without—it’s best to prepare the gluten-free version first to prevent contamination of work surfaces, cutting boards, and cooking utensils.
Do one thing at a time.
Don’t prepare gluten-free meals at the same time you are preparing gluten-containing meals; it’s too easy to get confused, and you are more likely to cross-contaminate. Focus on one thing at a time.
Do not reuse cooking water if you previously used it for an item containing gluten, such as pasta, or fry regular and gluten-free foods in the same oil.