Preparing a Gluten Free Area in a Mixed Household
Having a mixed household makes things a little trickier.
If your household will be mixed, with those not going gluten free continuing to eat wheat,barley or rye containing products, you will have to make a “gluten free zone”. Clear a shelf in the pantry or a cabinet for holding only gluten free items. Be sure that it is cleaned of any crumbs or flour dust. It will need to be located where flour dust will not fall onto those items.
Ideally cupboard space for separate sets of glasses, dishes, and silverware will also need to be set up. Clear one shelf in the refrigerator for gluten free items. You will need to wash dishes separately from the dishes that had gluten-containing foods on them.
The dishwasher can not eliminate gluten well enough to prevent cross contamination from occurring. Either run a separate load or hand wash the gluten free dishes with a special sponge kept for washing these items only. Be sure to use gluten free dish soap. (I use Palmolive.)
If this is not possible, at least wash the wooden utensils and colanders separately.
An area of the kitchen counter will need to be set up with a new toaster or toaster oven and an area around it where items containing gluten are not allowed. The rest of the family will need to understand that it is very important that they not use that part of the counter.
If there are children in the house still eating gluten, making a sign to remind them not to use the new toaster or cleaned toaster oven may help.
A shelf in the refrigerator should be cleaned thoroughly and used for gluten free foods and condiments. Try to keep the condiments separate from those used by the rest of the household. A crumb covered knife in the peanut butter, margarine, or jelly can make the gluten free person ill. For that matter, so can a kiss from someone that just ate toast or a sandwich. They need to brush their teeth first. New soaps and shampoo will be necessary also. Dove soaps and shampoo are gluten free.
All gluten free condiments and leftovers should be labeled or marked in some way so that it is easy to tell when it's in the refrigerator or freezer, even if it's not on the right shelf because someone moved it. This goes for anything else that is being kept separate, like pasta. An easy way is to keep a Sharpie handy, or use colored dots that stick to the container.
It might be worthwhile to invest in a rubbermaid type of tub for dishwashing that holds the sponge, the dish soap, and dish towels. It is all too easy to forget and use the regular sponge before you realize it, so keeping a separate tub for doing gluten free dishes might be very helpful. Also, you wouldn’t have to scrub the sink to do the dishes if you use the tub each time.
Some families decide to make the house totally gluten free. If there are any members not on the diet, they are free to eat it outside the home only. Others use the designated areas as free zones, and continue with their regular practices except for the ones on the diet. Each family has to decide what works best for them.
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