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Tuesday Tips – Preserving Your Gluten-Free Flours

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Preserve those pricey flours in the freezer.Did you know that flour can go bad? Whole grain flours are especially at risk, as they contain more natural oils and fats that can become rancid. And any flour is at risk of getting small bugs in it, as it is impossible to completely remove the insect eggs from the flour. Ew. You already know that it’s cheaper to buy flour in bulk, and if you’re making your own gluten-free flour mix, you’ll end up with several pounds each of a bunch of different flours. (I counted one time and discovered that I had eleven different kinds of flour in my house at one time. I may have an obsession with collecting gluten-free flours.) That’s a lot of flour to use up, and the likelihood of it going bad in my house is pretty high. It’s no savings to buy in bulk if you have to throw half of it away due to an invasion of pantry moths.

The quick tip for this Tuesday is to freeze your flours. Yes, our favorite kitchen tool here at Food Allergies on Ice is the solution once again! Keeping the flour very cold helps to keep the oils from becoming rancid, and keeps those tiny insect eggs from hatching. It’s also a dry, airtight space which helps the flour stay dry (obviously important!) and prevents bug invasions. (You know, in case the kids leave the back door open and a bunch of flies come in. Again.) Of course, you can use this trick to preserve gluten-containing flours as well.

One caveat to the freezer trick, though: make sure your flours come up to room temperature before baking with them or your recipes may not turn out as well. Here’s what I do: my bulk flours are in a box in the freezer. I pull out the box and mix up 2 kg of my All-Purpose GF flour mix at a time. That’s enough for a week or two of baking and it stays in an airtight container on my kitchen counter. The box of bulk flours is returned to the freezer for safe keeping until the next time.

Pretty simple, but this simple trick will help you save money and make tastier food. I call that a win!

Tuesday Tips – Gluten-Free, Gum-Free Flour Mix

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So if you’ve read the Tuesday Tip about mixing your own gluten-free flour, you’ll already know that in order to make gluten-free baking work, you need to have a mixture of flours. Most gluten-free bread products also contain xanthan or guar gums to help replace the gluten found in wheat flour, so I usually throw that in the mix as I’m baking, especially as I can’t use eggs. It was all going fine until one day when I ran out of guar gum.

The health food store in our rural community is the only place to buy a specialty item like guar gum. Naturally, it’s actually over in the next town, and a 30 minute drive. Each way. No way am I dragging my two little guys out and doing an hour’s worth of driving just to pick up one thing at a store where everything costs too much to begin with. Nope. I Googled instead to see if anyone out there on the internet could help me bake without the guar gum, as I’d heard a rumor of a blogger doing just such a thing.

I found her. Shauna over at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef can’t tolerate the gums, and has figured out a way around them. The biggest innovation she’s made is to measure her flours by weight rather than volume. Turns out that a cup of tapioca starch weighs a lot less than a cup of garfava flour, so substituting flours using volume measures doesn’t really work. I’ve started experimenting with her ideas, and I’m thrilled to say that I can now make gluten-free, egg-free bread products without that pricey gum. Hooray! One less ingredient to have to stock in my kitchen, one less ingredient to measure and add to my batter.

Here is my current all-purpose gluten-free flour mix: 300 grams tapioca starch plus 700 grams high-protein flours such as yellow pea flour, green pea flour, buckwheat flour, garfava flour, sorghum flour, or amaranth flour. I’ve been splitting it between several bean and grain flours, just to keep it from tasting too much like any one flour. I just noticed that Gluten-Free Girl’s latest recommendation is to do 40% whole grain flours and 60% starches. I haven’t tried that yet, but I’m guessing that my mix is close to that since I typically include some bean flours which are more starchy than a whole grain flour.

(You’ll notice that there isn’t any rice flour in my mix, despite Gluten-Free Girl’s recommendations. Rice does bad things to my insides, so I have to avoid it. If you can tolerate rice flour, it’s a far cheaper ingredient for your mix.)

Please note, when using your own flour mix, you’ll have to adjust the liquid in your recipe. Certain flours such as garfava bean or coconut flour are dryer and need extra liquid to come out right. Try adding half the liquid, stirring and adding more liquid as needed to reach the right consistency for your batter. The weather affects how much liquid you need as well, so pay attention as you mix.

If you’ve got a successful all-purpose, gluten-free flour mix, please let us know in the comments section!

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