Loaves of bread all lined up at the grocery store – tempting you, calling your name, it’s enough to send your tastebuds into overdrive.
Just pick up one of those soft, yet crusty beauties and you’ll feel anything from a slight heaviness to denseness to a loaf that’s just plain lighter than air.
There is no denying it, bread just makes everything better –
The typical shopper just grabs one of these loaves and plops it into their shopping cart, without giving the ingredients or food label a second thought. The ingredients list is there, but it’s not really too much of a concern. Definitely not worth trying to decipher the language.
But the gluten free shopper is different.
Those new to being gluten free probably avoid gluten and anything associated with gluten. There are no careless purchases of food, much less buying something without the ‘gluten free’ seal of approval on it.
But as you get a little more comfortable in your gluten free lifestyle and discover which foods you need to steer clear of and which foods you can enjoy, you might find yourself getting a little more brave with your meals. Maybe trying something without a gluten free label or baking gluten free breads more often.
Experimentation is the name of the game here, as is being prepared for trials and errors. Ultimately, it’s the only way to ensure your gluten free baking is a success story rather than one met with disaster and frustration.
But experimentation can also be a source of confusion if you’ve ever looked down at an ingredients list and saw the terms ‘Triticum vulgare’ or ‘Farina’. How do you even pronounce those terms and what do they have to do with bread?
So before you embark on any testing or trying out of other foods, it is helpful to know just what these strange words are and what they mean for those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.
The following is a short list of ingredients that also translates to ‘has gluten in it’ and then some other ingredients that can sometimes contain gluten.
Copy it, print it out, or clip it to Evernote – either way, keep this list handy.
Other names for wheat:
- Triticum vulgare / genus Triticum – names for wheat and wheat derivatives
- Triticale – this is a cross between wheat and rye that contains gluten
- Hordeum vulgare / genus Hordeum – names for barley; barley extract, barley flavoring and malt are common barley ingredients
- Secale cereale / genus Secale – name for rye; not as common as wheat or barley
- Avena Sativa / genus Avena – the name for oats; oat berries, Irish steel cut and rolled are common terms for oats
- Triticum spelta – spelt, a form of wheat
Can sometimes have gluten:
- Vegetable protein/hydrolyzed vegetable protein (can come from wheat, corn or soy)
- Modified starch/modified food starch (can come from several sources, including wheat)
- Natural flavor/natural flavoring (can come from barley)
- Artificial flavor/artificial flavoring (can come from barley)
- Caramel color (now considered a safe ingredient, but if you’re in doubt, check with the manufacturer)
- Modified food starch
- Hydrolyzed plant protein/HPP
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein/HVP
- Vegetable starch
- Dextrin and Maltodextrin (both sometimes made from wheat)
So, for an example, take a box of Hungry Jack Mashed Potatoes (the instant ones).
There is no gluten free indicator on the package, but I can see the ingredients list and compare it to the list above. They also give a warning that it does contain milk products, but nothing for wheat.
It looks like we are in the clear for these instant potatoes.
On the other hand, if you look at a Hershey’s Cookies and Cream chocolate bar, one of the ingredients listed is enriched wheat flour. Anything with the name or a derivative of the term wheat is off limits. So no Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bars (the milk chocolate ones are ok though).
So the first step to finding out whether a food is gluten-free or not is to simply read the label. As any Celiac or food allergy sufferer can attest, becoming an avid food label reader is crucial. And, then the second part of the equation and the key to efficient label-reading is: knowing what to look for.
Keep a watchful eye out for these ingredients and you’ll be in good, gluten free company rather than suffering from a food test that went wrong.