If you’re living in a household where at least one person has celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, yet the rest of the household does not, you’ll need to take a unique set of steps to prevent cross-contamination rather than completely removing gluten from your kitchen. Follow these steps to separate delegate the gluten-free tools and non-GF tools to keep your kitchen safe for everyone.
ORGANIZING THE KITCHEN:
HOW DO I SEPARATE GF AND NON-GF UTENSILS AND SPACES?
Designate the gluten drawers, shelves and cabinets vs the gluten-free spaces. Know which utensils and appliances you’ll need to replace or double up on. Label all of them. Ideally, you’d have separate drawers and cabinets, but if you do need share a cupboard or storage space, make sure all foods are properly sealed. Make sure gluten foods are on the top shelves. That way you minimize the risk of gluten food traces dropping onto non-gluten foods.
If possible, designate a GF countertop space, where no non-GF foods can touch or be prepped. Choose the lowest-traffic area for the GF countertop where you can leave the GF toaster and other countertop items. That way, if you have guests over and the designated GF area is out of the way for most, the risk of cross-contamination is lower.
MAINTAINING THE SEPARATION:
HOW CAN I REMEMBER WHICH IS WHICH?
Color-coding sponges and dishrags is an easy way to remember which are free-from and which are not. Remember to wash dishrags that have touched gluten separately from the gluten-free dishrags and have a designated non-gluten sponge that is always separate from the gluten-touching sponge.
In some mixed households, mixing dishes in the dishwasher is fine. However, in some cases, mixing dishes still causes reactions. If you’re in a household where gluten-free dishes can’t be in a mixed dishwasher, use the GF-designated sponge to wash and use a designated drying rack to dry. This way all GF dishes and utensils will be washed separately, dried separately, stored separate, and re-used separately.
THE LITTLE THINGS:
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO REMEMBER?
There’s no way to completely eliminate the risk of cross-contamination in a mixed GF household. Sharing the microwave, fridge, cabinets, oven and more poses a risk. Here are a few little tid bits to remember when gluten foods and gluten-free foods are sharing spaces:
Make Sure All Foods in Cabinets are Completely Sealed
Establish rules for sealing containers and locking lids. Buy heavy-duty chip bag clips for hard-to-seal bags
Get the nooks and crannies of shared spaces like the microwave and fridge. Don’t forget to throw out the rags afterward (they’ll have tons of gluten on them!
Keep Wax Paper Handy for Microwaving
Even if you clean the microwave thoroughly, small traces of gluten can remain and drip into a non-gluten dish. Use wax paper to cover the dish to be extra safe.
The risk of cross-contamination exists in mixed GF households even when sharing completely gluten-free snacks. Even sharing the same jar of gluten-free salsa can put you at risk. Check out this list of tips for how to share food in a GF mixed household.
For more information about how to get rid of gluten in your kitchen, check out Eliminating Gluten from the Kitchen.