January 17, 2010


Managing Gluten in Your Kitchen

People who are new to the gluten-free diet often find they are having reactions but don’t know where they are picking up gluten.  If that’s the case with you, the problem might be contamination in your own home.  If you don’t have a totally gluten-free kitchen, there are several things you can do to greatly decrease the risk of contamination.

1. Separate the non refrigerated gluten filled products.  Things like bread, image cereal, and crackers make crumbs, and crumbs equal contamination.  If at all possible, I recommend having dedicated cabinet and counter space for gluten-free food preparation.  In my case, since I’m the cook and the gluten-free eater, it means that most of my kitchen is gluten free with a portable island cabinet at one end of the kitchen for gluten items.  Sandwiches, bagels, etc. are prepared on that cabinet top, carried on a plate to the table, then the plate is taken directly to the dishwasher or sink.  In some households it might be the other way around where the gluten-free items are kept in a small separate area. 

2.  Label gluten-free refrigerated foods.  Most of the food in my refrigerator is mayo jar naturally gluten free, but some items are used in combination with wheat products such as condiments or cheese slices.  If a knife is used to spread mayonnaise on a piece of bread and then put back into the container for more, the mayo is likely to be contaminated.   If one of my kids puts bread on his plate then takes out a piece of cheese, the cheese could become contaminated.  To avoid this problem, I use brightly colored yard sale stickers with “GF” on them to indicate items that are not to be contaminated.  I also use a Sharpie to label containers. 

3.  Clean counters and tables well.  There is a trick to doing this.  Wipe your table, then get down at eye level with it.  Chances are good you will see a few (or not so few)  stray crumbs that you would have never guessed were still there.  While I don’t do the eye-level test every time I clean a surface, I try to do it often because it reminds me to do the job well. 

Constantly being aware of contamination risks is one part of the gluten-free diet I don’t like, but as a person with celiac disease,  it is a fact of life.  If you’re new to this, I will say that it gets easier, but you have to be careful and not grow lazy about it.  It’s also important to educate the other people in your home.  Kids are capable of understanding the idea at a pretty young age, but even after being gluten free for 9 years, I have to remind my teenagers to be careful with their crumbs at times.

I’m sure some of you have tips for managing gluten in the kitchen.  Feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you do.


I have a question. For those without a dishwasher what about washing the dishes? Can I wash things with gluten-y toast crumbs in the same water I am washing all of my dishes with?
Great tips Linda!
Candice, if there are a lot of crumbs I think I would rinse them off before washing. Otherwise, I think that if everything is rinsed well and nothing is stuck on the dishes, it would be okay.
You have great tips here. I count myself blessed that my husband decided to go gluten-free with me to keep things easy. No gluten around to think about. He doesn't even miss gluten bread.
Linda, great post! Before I took the house gluten free we faced a few of these problems.
Toaster Ovens work better then Toasters.
I had to send my old toaster to the thrift. It was just easier........
You also have to be careful as to what cleaners you use some contain gluten.
Thanks again for the great post
Live Laugh and Enjoy!
the only refridgerated gluten in our house is the "adults" butter tub (contaminated likely) and an occasional gluten containing leftover. We also have cheese in the fridge that is safe and ones that are not safe for the kids, we just mark them. in the cupboard the gluten containing cereals are in a cupboard soley for my husband's use and the rare other gluten containing snacks are way up high, or in the basement kitchen (where we snack and hangout whenthe kids are in bed).

i banned gluten from the house when we started the diet and am now allowing it in but only out of site of the kids. Our kids need the glutenfree/dairy free diet.

thanks for the post
My husband and daughter have to be gluten free. I chose to be gluten free to make life easier. We now have a gluten free house.

Before the whole house was gluten free, I created really cute gluten free labels on the computer and printed them out. All gf items received a label. My daughter, who was having a hard time with going gluten free, thought it was cool that she had special things just for her.

To this day, I put those labels on her snacks whenever she goes somewhere. It never fails that the other kids always want her "special" snack. lol!
Linda--This is a terrific post. Ideally, we all want a gluten-free kitchen, but we can't all have it. My husband prepares sandwiches sometimes and his cereal is not gf, so I am on counter patrol frequently. I think I clean our counters like breathing. One thing I do after I wipe down the counters with a dish cloth (until I feel they are clean), is also wipe them dry with a kitchen towel. Then I put that towel in the laundry. I go through more towels than most I'm sure, but I don't mind and I do think it really helps to catch stray crumbs here and there.

Great post. I have become increasingly more "police-like" with the laying of gluteny things on counters, reminding other family members to please think about how they handle things so they don't become contaminated, as I realized just how sensitive to gluten I have become.
Hi Linda~
This is my first time stopping by your blog.
My family and I just started on a Gluten Free diet. None of us have celiac, but after doing some research we decided to try this out for some health and learning issues.
I'm looking forward to following this blog.
Great ideas! Be extra careful about where gluten cereals are poured. The cereal dust gets everywhere and is hard to see! In my house, gluten cereals are poured at a designated side of the kitchen table far away from anything else it could contaminate. Also when wiping counters and table, always wipe the gluten spaces last. I never had a problem washing our dishes together, but I always rinse everything well first (I did that before I was gluten free too).
I forgot to mention I was talking about washing dishes together in a dishwasher being fine, not the sink. For sink, I suggest separate loads and separate sponges and dishrags.
We have a gluten drawer. Thats the only place you'll find much wheat in my house =D.

For the jars, we do the same. I just take a sharpie to them =D. Then, for jam we use spoons so that everyone uses the same one, just no double-dipping!!
Thanks so much for sharing this post on The Gluten-Free Lifestyle Blog Carnival, Linda! It's a great reminder post for those who've been gluten free for a while and an eye opener for folks who are new to the diet. :-)

I have a designated gluten counter. If people are making gluten snacks or meals, they must be done on that counter only.

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