Those who don’t know much about cooking gluten free or much about the specifics tend to think it’s ok to add just a little to a meal as long as it isn’t much. How could just a little flour hurt right?
It is not safe to use even a small amount of flour when cooking for someone who is gluten free. The food they eat needs to be below 20ppm gluten or less. Someone with Celiac Disease or sensitive gluten intolerance could face severe short and long-term health consequences when consuming even a small amount of gluten.
The concept of cooking gluten free is more than omitting an ingredient or set of ingredients. There is a different mindset that you need to have when cooking for someone else who is gluten free. Take a look at the article I wrote on this to get into more specifics and have a step-by-step guide to make sure you are creating safe food they can enjoy.
Can I Use Just A Little Flour When Cooking Gluten Free?
Let’s just get that out there first and foremost. Do not use flour derived from wheat, barley, rye, or oats when cooking for someone that is gluten free.
Even if it is just a tablespoon of flour in a large pot of soup, it will raise the amount of gluten to unsafe levels.
I am including a table below to demonstrate the levels of gluten in the flour.
Anything above 20ppm will significantly impact some who need to be gluten free.
You cannot use any type of flour that contains gluten, even “low gluten” flours, such as rye flour, contain a significant amount of gluten.
How Much Gluten Is In Different Flours?
The content of gluten varies depending on the purpose of the flour.
Below is a table showing how much gluten is in 4 different flours with a comparison of gluten free certifications.
|Product||Parts Per Million (PPM) Gluten|
|Certified Gluten Free||20ppm or less|
|Beyond Celiac Certification||10ppm or less|
What Does 20 PPM Gluten Mean?
In simple terms, this just means how much gluten is in something.
It is an easy way to measure how much gluten there is and depending on that, how safe that product is for someone with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance.
This is a way of expressing very dilute concentrations of substances. Just as per cent means out of a hundred, so parts per million or ppm means out of a million….Northwestern
As the above table demonstrates, the amount in certified gluten free products is minuscule and almost nonexistent compared to flours typically used.
Some people even have issues with 20ppm gluten, which is where the is another certification that is less than 10ppm. People with Celiac Disease do the best when gluten is as absent as possible, but should never consume something with more than 20ppm gluten.
If I Used Some Flour And The Person Didn’t Notice Does That Mean They Don’t Need To Be Gluten Free?
Unless someone has a wheat allergy, many of the symptoms of ingesting gluten are prolonged. Some don’t notice their first symptom until a couple of hours after, but it could be days later that the symptoms start.
Symptoms vary from person to person. It seems more dependant on how a person reacts and not as connected to what their diagnosis is, especially between gluten intolerant and Celiac.
If a person is gluten free due to an autoimmune condition other than Celiac Disease, those symptoms may get worse. Someone with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance may vomit, have gastrointestinal symptoms, get a fever, flushed face, or experience nervous system symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and brain fog.
Because the symptoms range so wildly, if someone starts to experience them, they may not immediately connect it.
In general, people who are gluten free tend to hide these symptoms because they don’t want to be rude or unintentionally insult someone.
Navigating social situations is very difficult.
So if you fed someone gluten accidentally, they may not notice right away.
This does not mean that they do not need to be gluten free, it just means that you cannot see their symptoms or that the symptoms have not started to occur yet.
Is There A Gluten Free Flour That Works The Same As All Purpose Flour?
Flours work in so many different ways, there is no gluten free flour that will work in all the ways that a wheat all-purpose flour does.
Let’s take a look at a few options I’ve found.
|Baked Goods||I prefer my own gluten free flour blend I developed. My second favorite for baking is Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Flour Blend|
|Thickening Agent||Corn Starch, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch|
|Pancakes or Waffles||A blend that is a little heavier on starches such as Tapioca or even Sweet White Rice Flour|
|Roux||Corn Starch or All Purpose GF Flour|
|Cakes||Fewer starches and more grains like white rice flour, brown rice flour, teff flour, and sweet white sorghum flour|
|Pizza Crust||A good mixture of starches and grains, but a little heavier on grains to avoid a gummy crust|
How Do I Cook Gluten Free For Someone Else?
The most important thing in cooking for other people when you are not gluten free is to ask them if they feel comfortable with it.
Due to the severity of reactions, many people do not take these risks, but appreciate that you are considering it.
If you are considering cooking for someone with Celiac Disease or who is very sensitive to gluten, consider reading through the guide I wrote so that you can get an idea of what it would take to maintain safety in cooking and to let them know a few things you will do to help them feel comfortable. You can find the full guide here.