About Gluten-Free

Gluten is a protein duo found in many plants, most commonly wheat, rye, and barley. It is a major contributor to the human diet globally and is especially key in the American diet. After all, we do love sandwiches and bagels!

Gluten works in breads and pastas to give the dough an elastic texture. It helps bread rise, and it gives bagels their chewiness. It’s a very delicious protein mix, I must confess. Other grains don’t behave the same way because their proteins are different.

Some people have a condition called celiac disease, a digestive disorder that renders them allergic to gluten. Some people notice they feel better when they reduce or eliminate gluten from their diets. This blog is to reassure those folks that they can eat like everybody else without eating like everybody else.

If you are new to gluten-free, here are some tips and tricks to help get your new pantry started.

Gluten-Free Pasta

There is only 1 brand that will work: Tinkyada.

I have tried all the other ones, tried salted vs unsalted water, tried under cooking and overcooking, I mean I REALLY tested out the pastas. Tinkyada consistently boils and bakes like real wheat-based pasta. No one will notice the difference. You can switch this on picky kids and adults seamlessly.

Rice pasta is best cooked soft. In the al dente stage, you can tell a slight difference. The pasta will taste gummy if it is under cooked. Rice pasta takes longer to boil than wheat pasta. Also, the difference in cooked size vs dry size is greater. Check your pasta by taste until you are experienced with this new pasta.

Tinkyada says on its bag that is doesn’t get mushy and can handle over cooking. It can. The bag reads truth. But don’t forget it on the stove!

Gluten-Free Flours

There are tons of flours and baking mixes to choose from. Under-done baked goods are a thing of the past. Gluten-free flours taste like flour until they are cooked all the way. The recipes on this blog will indicate the time and temp for baking to the “underdone taste” while still baking things to fully cooked.you can stil have chewy brownies and cookies. you just cook them a lot longer than their glutenous counterparts.

Some gluten-free baking mixes taste really bad raw. Skip licking the bowl.

Rice Flour

I always use organic brown rice flour. I buy it different places and by different brands, and it is quite consistent.  I use it in nearly everything. It has a neutral flavor and does not clump like wheat flour. It can be used directly in place of wheat flour for making roux, making a flour dredge for meats and veggies before frying, or for greasing ans flouring pans.

Rice flour needs a little help when it comes to bread making. Because it is gluten-free, it does not rise the way yeast breads made with wheat do. You will need to use a binder to create that elasticity. It is easy to make quick-breads with rice flour. Bananas and eggs are the binders I most often use to give rice flour baked goods the perfect taste and texture.

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca comes form the cassava plant. We don’t seem to use this stuff much in the US unless we’re making pudding. Well, it’s awesome. Tapioca can get a little gummy and can help provide some of the stickiness needed to make perfectly textured gluten-free foods. It is widely available at Asian markets or natural product stores. Sometimes it is sold as “tapioca starch” but is the same thing. Brands are generally very consistent.

Sorghum Flour

It’s a crumbly mess. I can’t make it work without adding weird chemical enhancers. Sorghum is best used in brewing gluten-free beer.

Bean Flours

They taste like beans! I’ve used a gluten-free blend of soy, fava, chickpea, and quinoa flours. It works fine if you use a heavy flavor, like chocolate brownies. Not so much with the vanilla shortbread cookies. It is generally more expensive than rice flour, so I have stopped trying things out with it.

Quinoa Flour

Also expensive in relation to flavor and performance. It is crumbly and very chalky. Quinoa is best left whole and used in place of rice for Latin inspired dishes.

Corn Flour

I don’t buy it because I buy stone ground yellow grits in the bulk section of the co-op. When I make corn bread, I use rice flour and the grits and make very chunky, provincial corn bread. Fewer ingredients making more meals! I do keep corn starch handy for those in-a-pinch situations.

Oat Flour

Same thing. If I need it for cookies or bread, I whip up my rolled oats in the food processor.

Published on December 1, 2009 at 6:12 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for posting this, going gluten-free has been confusing at best. We’ll have to try the Tinkyada pasta!

  2. This is great. Thanks for all the great tips!

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