Of course, foods can contain gluten. But gluten can linger in other places in the kitchen, particularly when one or more members of a household are not restricted to gluten-free living. Some of these hotspots are below:
Gluten can stick in the grooves and parts of common kitchen utensils. Porous utensils are particularly problematic, such as basting brushes, wooden spoons and cutting boards.
To solve this problem, ensure all utensils are washed in warm to hot soapy water or a dishwasher. The best idea is to have a selection of gluten-free porous utensils used only for the preparation of gluten-free foods.
Toaster and Toaster Oven
The toaster is a bread crumb trap. A toaster oven can also be a problem. Cross-contamination frequently occurs in these appliances. There are two good remedies for this problem.
First, purchase dedicated gluten-free appliances. Use those only for preparation of gluten-free foods. A second option is to purchase toaster bags. These are Teflon sleeves used to protect foods cooked in the toaster.
Cooking Surfaces and Equipment
Cooking surfaces or equipment with scratches, crevices or small holes can provide hiding places for cross-contaminating gluten. Scratched cooking pans, colanders, waffle irons, grills and panini makers are frequent sources of cross-contamination.
The best option is always to maintain separate equipment exclusively for gluten-free cooking. Scratched plastic ware should always be replaced, as gluten can linger in these scratches. For the grill, use foil or grill pans to keep gluten-free food from coming into contact with other food residue.
Dish Towels and Rags
Dish towels and rags can hold gluten which gets trapped in waffle weaves and other fabric textures, causing cross-contamination. Use gluten-free only dish towels. When washing dishes, allow them to air dry so food particles cannot adhere to towels. Paper towels are not considered earth-friendly. But using them can prevent problems, as they are disposed of after one use.
When applying hand lotion, particularly before or during cooking or eating, lotion can be accidentally transferred to foods. When eating by hand after applying lotion, some of that product can adhere to the food and then enter the mouth. Lotion can also transfer onto eating utensils, glassware and other items in direct contact with the mouth. Ensure all lotions used in the house, particularly in the kitchen, are gluten-free.
In the Air
In a poorly ventilated environment or where air is recycled, cooking flour can linger in the air for 24 hours or more. This can be inhaled, then swallowed into the digestive system. Many baking processes, for baked items such as cookies, bread and pasta, involve using dusting flour on a kitchen surface or to roll out dough with a rolling pin. This is a good example of when such flour can become airborne. Use gluten-free flour for cooking, whenever possible. This will also prevent cross-contamination from surfaces airborne flour can adhere to, such as appliance handles, glassware, utensils, dish towels and plates.