There’s a myriad of challenges that living under the same roof with someone can create – whether it’s your loving college roommate, spouse or family – but sharing a kitchen between gluten and gluten-free eaters does not have be an added challenge. Since there are many ways for gluten to cross-contaminate gluten-free foods, I’d like to offer a few tips to keep celiacs safe while sharing a kitchen with gluten-tolerate eaters.
Step #1: Label and designate things to be used for gluten-free usage only.
One of the easiest and most secure ways of preventing cross-contamination is by labeling all of your food (bags, jars, bottles, etc.) and preparation supplies (silverware, plates, appliances, etc.). Sticky notes or a label maker is going to be very helpful in this step. Right after you buy your gluten-free food from the store, come home and label it with your name so that those living with you clearly know whose food is whose. This should apply to refrigerated items especially as condiments and containers can innocently be tampered with.
If you can afford it, having two toasters – one for gluten breads and one for gluten-free breads – is highly advised. Also, for toaster ovens, you should request another tray from the manufacturer and designate one for just gluten-free use. Silverware is the same way; if you can afford a second set of silverware, you should buy one. Either way, make sure you clearly label which silverware is for gluten-free use to make sure there are no confusions.
Step #2: Explain your lifestyle and establish ground rules with clear communication.
First, you should educate the person(s) you live with about your gluten-free lifestyle and explain to them the serious side effects of ingesting even just a particle of gluten. Informing them on this issue will help them understand your request and allow them to be more conscious of it. You’ll learn that this exercise will go a long way.
Secondly, lay down some basic ground rules like keeping the counter crumb-free and not tampering with your labeled items. Understanding someone’s dietary requests and safety precautions is not a difficult task, though it may take some time and constant reminders from the gluten-free individual.
Step #3: Use thoroughly cleaned surfaces and supplies to prepare gluten and gluten-free meals.
The chance of gluten being present on a surface, dish or kitchen item is probably more common than you might think. For example, gluten-containing flour has a tendency to stay airborne for hours and fall on many different surfaces and utensils in the kitchen. Using gluten-containing flour is not safe for gluten-free patrons because the slightest trace of gluten can trigger an illness for them. If at all possible, avoiding the use of wheat flour in a gluten-free-needed environment is recommended to prevent the risk of contamination.
Additionally, a gluten-free eater should never prepare a meal on the same surface that gluten products have touched unless it is thoroughly washed and dried with a gluten-free designated drying cloth. The same goes for utensils or any dinnerware for the same contamination reasons. The remnants of gluten can linger on any kind of surface and the proper safety measures should not be taken lightly by celiacs or people(s) living with celiacs. As a joint effort, both parties can hopefully sustain a gluten-free-friendly kitchen challenge-free.