There are literally basketfuls of gluten-free bread options on today’s market, and that’s a huge blessing for people who eat gluten-free. But with gluten-free bread, it can be important not just to buy gluten-free but think carefully about how your bread is stored, prepared and served to avoid cross contamination:
1. Gluten-free Goes First
One easy way to accidentally cross contaminate gluten-free bread is with use of shared utensils. Even the use of a shared knife to spread butter on bread or jam on toast can be enough to cause cross contamination. If you live in a household with folks who eat bread with gluten, a good rule of thumb is “gluten-free goes first.” Ideally, of course, you want to use separate utensils for gluten-free bread altogether, both when using spreads and when slicing bread. Other places to be careful about cross contamination are with cutting boards (again, best to use two separate ones) oven mitts or hot pads when baking, and tongs or other utensils used with toasters.
If you’re dining as a restaurant, ask for fresh condiments, butter and utensils so you don’t use the ones on the table that have already been touched by gluten. Also, ask for toast and buns dry, so they aren’t spreading the same butter in the kitchen on your GF bread.
2. One kitchen, two toasters
Whether you use a slot toaster or a toaster oven at home or in the office, it’s important to know that a toaster that’s had bread or other foods with gluten inside it can be a possible point of cross contamination. Like utensils, having a second toaster is a great way to avoid these problems, as long as your family and coworkers are diligent about keeping your gluten-free toaster safe.
Having a second toaster might not always be a viable option at home or available in the office. In that case, it’s helpful to think about a few tips to make sure you can keep your shared toaster safe from cross contamination. For toaster ovens, one of the easiest methods if you want to make toast or warm up a sandwich is to place a layer of aluminum foil down on the grate before warming. For slot toasters, foil isn’t a great solution, but toaster bags are a simple and effective way to help safeguard against cross contamination. There are literally dozens of inexpensive options in the market, and toaster bags are an essential travel accessory for those who make use of hotel kitchenettes or out of town offices.
3. Proper Storage: Getting it right in the breadbasket
Bread storage options are one of the easiest ways to safeguard against gluten cross contamination. Again, separate storage for gluten-free bread is always the best option. But if storage space is a concern, at the very least keeping gluten-free bread in sealed plastic packages or storage containers is helpful. And remember, when removing bread from storage or when serving bread to family or guests, wash your hands thoroughly before serving gluten-free breads. Even touching standard bread or other foods with gluten before serving gluten-free bread might be enough to cause cross contamination.
If you’re at a bakery, cafe or restaurant where they serve gluten-free breads and baked goods, make sure GF breads are stored in a separate case and at the very least stored above gluten-containing breads. Crumbs and flour can fall in shelves, which is enough to contaminate a GF bread below. We seen so many GF baked goods next to or below gluten-containing breads and want to snatch away the GF sign.