On Monday night, there was quite a bit of discussion on the types of pans, etc., you should use when gluten free.  I thought I should maybe help sort out the different information out there.

It only takes the smallest bit of gluten to contaminate a gluten intolerant person. As you get started, there are a few things to clean and a few things you may need to change in your kitchen to avoid gluten contamination in your home. Don’t worry, you don’t have to toss everything out just yet, but remember if you live with others who are still eating gluten, you will have to be extra careful.

Be sure to explain what is happening to your family. A knife which has spread mayo on gluten bread and then put back into the jar has contaminated the whole container with those gluten-y crumbs. I suggest a separate jar that is labeled Gluten Free. I know a few people who have a separate cabinet that is entirely dedicated to their gluten free items.  In our house, which is all gluten and dairy free, we have the opposite situation.  We have a cupboard area for any gluten containing items that make it into our house.  Condiments in the fridge that may contain gluten or dairy are very clearly marked and kept in a contained area.

Toasters and toaster ovens: Some people use toaster bags and don’t change out their toaster. Most people buy and extra one they can designate for gluten free use ONLY since you can’t clean it.  We have two toasters at our house in completely separate areas.  Remember toasters toss crumbs about when the toast pops, so keep the gluten toaster in an area where it won’t contaminate your gluten free food or where the crumbs can be tracked all over.

Can opener:  Be sure to check the blades for bits of caked on food.  (Yuck!) Scrub it down or get a new one and label it for gluten free ONLY.

Cooking utensils and pots: Unfortunately, these can be a major source of contamination. With pots and pans, you will need to carefully take stock.  The big tip for deciding if you need to replace any of your cookware: if it is a made of a porous material, sorry, it will have to be replaced.

Non-stick:  Non-stick that is scratched will definitely have to go.  You just can’t clean all the crevices to make sure it is gluten-free. There has also been some information out there that gluten molecules get trapped in the non-stick surface when heated, then re-released when heated again, but I was unable to find a link to that information.

Cast iron: Because cast iron pans build up a layer of “seasoning” that makes it non-stick and keeps the pan from rusting, this layer has gluten and/or dairy trapped all the way through it.

Stainless Steel: inspect them carefully for a layer of burnt oil build-up. Stainless steel can probably be scoured until it is shiny and new-looking.  Bar Keeper’s Friend is a stainless steel cleaner that will make this step much easier!

Baking sheets and pans that have become “dark:” Again, there is a layer of burnt-on oily gunk that has trapped gluten and dairy.  Scrub that puppy!

Stoneware:  These porous pans have that “seasoning” you have worked so hard to develop.  This will, again, contain trapped dairy and gluten.  See if you have a friend who will be happy to take your seasoned pan and trade you a new one.

Flour sifters, colanders, and strainers:  you can’t get the tiny particles of flour or pasta goo out of the little holes effectively.

Wooden cutting boards, wooden spoons, wooden rolling pins:  Wood is porous, so no go.  Grandma’s rolling pin can stay if you clean it carefully and hang it on a display rack.

Replace all cutting boards.  Gluten and dairy can’t be cleaned out effectively from the deep scratches and cuts on the boards.

If you still have gluten and dairy being cooked in your home, old cutting boards, wooden or non-stick utensils and pans can be kept separate from the “gluten-free” pans.  Designate separate storage cupboards for them.

Replace what you need to, or just avoid using it for now.  For baking pans, don’t forget you can use parchment paper to line them so you don’t need to purchase new ones right away.  Try not to break the bank to outfit your kitchen.  Really, all you need is a skillet (with a lid), a sauce pan (with a lid) and a larger stock/pasta/chili/soup pot with a lid (a strainer/steamer insert is nice for this one, also).  Decide what you really need right away in order to make your gluten free food for now.  Then, as you need different things (maybe a baking pan, or cookie sheet), replace them as you can and as you need them.

Now, go get some paper towels and cleaner! Wipe down the shelves and counters where you stored your gluten foods and utensils. The toaster is a huge contaminator, so be extra careful to clean really well around it.   Don’t forget the silverware drawer – there always seem to be crumbs in there!