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Gluten-Free Cookware and Kitchen Utensils

Here's What You Need to Replace To Guard Against Gluten Cross-Contamination

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Updated January 15, 2012

When you go gluten-free, it's not enough to clean out your kitchen — you'll also need to replace some of your cookware and kitchen utensils.

Sadly, anything that's porous or scratched can harbor tiny amounts of gluten in the cracks ... and it takes very little gluten to make you sick. (Read more about this in How much gluten can make me sick?)

You don't need to spend a lot of money buying new cookware. In fact, it's perfectly possible to get everything at your local dollar store and spend around $40 or less (much less if you don't use a toaster).

However, it is critically important that you do replace these items in your kitchen. If you don't, you risk experiencing continuing symptoms from gluten and slowing your healing process substantially.

Ready to get started? Here's what you'll need:

1. Toaster

Getty Images/Stephen Marks

I'm putting a new toaster at the top of this list for a reason: using an old toaster is one of the most common causes of glutenings for people new to the gluten-free diet.

Some people seem very attached to their old toasters. If that's the case, I can relate — I liked mine, too. But it's pretty critical that you buy yourself a new one — I explain more in this article: Do I REALLY Need To Buy A New Toaster? Also, make sure you never allow gluten bread to be toasted in your new gluten-free toaster — keep it only for gluten-free products.

2. Non-Stick Pans

Getty Images/Smneedham

If your non-stick pans are scratched at all (and we all know how easy it is to scratch them), you'll need to buy new ones. That's because the scratches in the non-stick coating can harbor minute amounts of gluten. Yes, it's annoying to replace good cookware, but you really can't avoid it. Look at each one really closely for very small scratches, and if you see even one, out goes that pan.

Stainless steel or solid aluminum pans with no non-stick coating on them don't need to be replaced, and in fact can be shared between gluten and gluten-free foods as long as you wash them well in between uses. You also don't need to replace your pan lids, but I'd advise giving them an especially good scrub — taking care to root out any food residue along the seams — before you put them into gluten-free service.

3. Cast Iron Pan

Getty Images/Jonathan Kantor

Iron is porous, and yes, just like other porous materials, it can harbor gluten. Therefore, if you've ever used your cast iron frying pan to cook pancakes or for frying chicken (or in any other gluten-containing cooking activity, including ones involving gluten-based sauces), you'll need to replace that pan or clean and then re-season it.

If you decide to re-season your pan, you'll first need to send it through a cleaning cycle in a self-cleaning oven. The oven temperature reaches around 900 degrees Fahrenheit during the self-cleaning cycle, and that's hot enough to destroy the gluten protein. Once you've cleaned your pan, you can re-season it. Just make sure you dedicate it to gluten-free food from now on.

You can do the same cleansing routine with a used pizza stone, as well, saving you the need to purchase a new one (pizza stones are just as porous as cast iron pans).

4. Cutting Boards

Getty Images/Tom Grill

By nature, used cutting boards have scratches in them ... frequently lots and lots of them. And like the scratches in other types of cookware, the scratches in your cutting boards can harbor microscopic deposits of gluten.

Therefore, you'll need to buy new cutting boards and keep them only for gluten-free use. Make sure you replace your meat carving board as well, if you have a separate one, since marinades you've used on meat could have cross-contaminated it.

5. Silicone Spatulas

Getty Images/Jeffrey Coolidge

When we bake, most of us use flexible silicone spatulas to scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure we blend every last bit of batter. However, these used spatulas can trap particles of gluten, both in their handles (many have wooden handles) and in scratches on the surface.

Fortunately, it's not expensive to replace silicone spatulas. If you want, get several new ones. Just make sure to mark them with a prominent "Gluten-Free" label to make certain no one in your household accidentally uses them to make a gluten-filled cake.

6. Plastic Turner/Spatula

Getty Images/Gustaf Brundin

If you use a metal turner (also known as a spatula), you don't need to worry about replacing it, even if you've decided to have a shared kitchen — just scrub it really well before using it with gluten-free food.

However, if you have a plastic or nylon turner (especially one where the leading edge is scratched and frayed), you'll need to buy yourself a new one and dedicate it to gluten-free cooking (again, labeling it will help). Make sure no one in your household uses it to flip gluten foods, or you'll need to replace it again.

7. Wooden Spoons

Getty Images/C Squared Studios

Many of us use wooden spoons (and wooden forks and turners, too) for cooking in non-stick pans, but wood is another porous material that can trap small amounts of gluten. Therefore, you'll need to buy new wooden spoons and other tools.

As with some of your other new cookware and kitchen utensils, you'll need to keep your new wooden spoons only for gluten-free cooking. Even one use in a pot of regular spaghetti can contaminate them, so label them carefully.

8. Rolling Pin

Getty Images/Tom Grill

This is a tough one — many people have rolling pins that have been handed down one or more generations from other family members, and they want to keep them for sentimental reasons. But it's absolutely essential to replace it, since your old wooden rolling pin will gluten you the first time you try to use it in gluten-free baking.

You don't have to get rid of your old family friend — you can keep it and maybe even display it in your kitchen. Just please, don't use it to roll dough anymore.

9. Baking Sheets/Muffin Tins

Getty Studios/Stockbyte

Just like your non-stick pans, your non-stick baking sheets and muffin tins need to go if they're scratched at all, since those scratches certainly contain gluten. You'll also need to replace silicone baking sheets and muffin tins that have been used with gluten products.

You might not need to replace stainless steel baking sheets and muffin tins if they're not particularly scratched — just make sure to scrub them thoroughly, especially in the corners and around seams. However, I did replace two older, seriously scratched stainless steel cookie sheets that I suspected in a glutening.

10. Colander

Getty Images/Medioimages

It's not possible to de-gluten a used colander, even if you soak it and then run it through the dishwasher. The gluten from the pasta you drained in it just sticks inside all those little holes, waiting to make you sick.

Therefore, you'll need a new colander, and you'll need to make certain it stays gluten-free. Choose one in a different color (blue, for example), and remind your family repeatedly that the blue colander is for gluten-free use only.

11. Plastic Bowls

Getty Images/Alex Cao

If you use plastic mixing bowls or storage containers in your kitchen, you'll need to buy some new ones — any scratches pose the same old gluten problem. Check for plastic bowls you've used in baking activities as well as your Tupperware stash.

Treat yourself to a new set of storage containers and plastic bowls. Again, if you intend to share a kitchen with some gluten products, you might want to consider color-coding the bowls and the containers — i.e., blue for gluten-free, red for gluten.

12. Sifter

Getty Images/Rebecca Emery

I never used a sifter much in my pre-gluten-free days, but some gluten-free baking recipes call for sifting the ingredients. For obvious reasons, you shouldn't re-purpose a previously-used flour sifter — it's just not possible to clean it thoroughly enough.

Therefore, you'll need a new sifter, especially if you plan to do much baking from scratch. You also can use a fine mesh metal strainer for this purpose (I've done this when I didn't have a sifter handy), but make sure the strainer's never been used with gluten, either.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity
  4. Gluten-Free Diet
  5. Setting Up Your Kitchen
  6. Equipping Your Gluten-Free Kitchen - What To Replace

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