Preparing your kitchen
Cross contamination is a risk at any time, although it is higher when you are first starting on a gluten free diet and learning. Most people, when cooking don’t think that it is a problem cutting a slice of bread, then using that same knife or cutting board to slice vegetables or fruit. We don’t normally think that this is a problem because we are not contaminating with bacteria. However, the slightest crumb can make Celiacs ill. So when food is being prepared, you have to be diligent and you have to rethink how you do things. An easy way to try and get everyone on board is to ask them to think how they would do things if they had to be aware of a peanut allergy.
Before anything is done, make sure all surfaces are cleaned thoroughly and dedicate one counter or side of the kitchen as a gluten free area.
Obviously, having a completely dedicated gluten free kitchen is the ideal, but this isn’t always possible as there are other family members that will not need to be on a gluten free diet.
In either case, you should make sure that all the cooking, serving and storage utensils are replaced. Both plastic and wood are porous and absorb particles, so the gluten is difficult to eliminate from these completely. Any bake ware, nonstick pans, and glassware that are scratched may also harbor gluten and will need to be replaced; otherwise there is a possibility of being glutened every time they are used.
Having a dedicated toaster/toaster oven makes it less likely to be glutened, but if it is ever used for anything other than gluten free bread, it will also have to be replaced.
Clean the refrigerator thoroughly, If sharing – then try to make sure all gluten free foods are on the upper levels, so that there is less chance of contamination from spills etc. Make sure to have a cupboard that is dedicated to gluten free food alone, if this is not possible then make sure to use the upper shelves for the gluten free food to avoid contamination.
Replace any sponges/brushes you use to wash dishes as they will also harbor gluten. If sharing a kitchen, use color coded sponges and make sure to keep them in separate areas. Rinse gluten dishes off well before placing in dishwasher. [I have been known to wash them off lightly first].
More importantly, educate your family. They need to understand that they cannot prepare gluten foods in your area or use any of the gluten free utensils while preparing gluten filled food. If they are using the same spread, butter etc. – they must understand that they cannot ‘dip ‘their knife back into the jar once it has touched their bread etc.
When preparing meals, always serve the gluten free meals first, to avoid accidental cross contamination with utensils.
Remember, education is the key; everyone in the family needs to be involved.
*Disclosure – although I have been compensated to write this post, all opinions stated are my own.