Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stocking Your Gluten Free Pantry

As you read though these recipes, you might find lots of ingredients which seem unusual or that you haven't heard of before.  I thought I would devote a post to explaining about ingredients commonly found in gluten free recipes, what to always have on hand, and where I like to buy those ingredients.

Let's talk flours first.  There are probably about a million different gluten free flours out one can stock them all.  If you read different bloggers and recipes you will find that everyone seems to have different favorites.

I picked my favorite flours based on price, nutrition and universality in different recipes.

Let's start with my my favorite!

Coconut Flour:  is awesome because it is grain free, high fiber, low carb and high protein.  This makes it perfect for people who may be on special diets.  When you cook with coconut flour, you typically need to add extra eggs to hold the baked good together so keep this in mind when using coconut flour.  I usually buy coconut flour on  I love the bulk prices and generally just peruse all the offerings until I find the lowest price/oz (being sure to take shipping into account) and then snatch up several cases.  The last time I bought it, Azukar Organics was the cheapest price.

Brown Rice Flour: This is the universal gluten free flour.  It is found in a large percentage of gluten free recipes, so something to always have on hand.  Again, I use my Amazon technique to find the cheapest price.   You can do that too to find brown rice flour on

White Rice Flour or Sweet Rice Flour:  These are not the same thing, but I find that I can use these interchangeably in most recipes without any issues.  The exemption might be in things like pie crusts, which I haven't tried yet.  I usually buy white rice flour directly from the grocery store.  My supermarkets stock it as it is frequently used in Asian cooking.  Our grocery story carries it with the other flours, but other stores might carry it in the International Foods section.

Tapioca Flour: I have found that the cheapest way to get tapioca flour is to buy tapioca pearl and then grind yourself.  If you have a coffee bean grinder, you can grind small amounts of tapioca pearl into tapioca flour at a time.  Just do be careful, that if you use a coffee grinder that has been used for coffee, you could impart a coffee taste to the tapioca.  Some people buy a separate coffee grinder just for this.  Of course, you could buy an entire grain mill, but those are very expensive.  I buy my tapioca pearls in bulk.

Arrowroot Powder: This is a bit less common than tapioca flour, but still used in enough recipes that I find it helpful to stock.  Again, I buy arrowroot powder in bulk, looking for the lowest price.

Millet Flour: I like millet powder because it is so nutritious.  It's a great addition to muffins, breads, pizza crusts.  If you have a grain mill, grinding your own millet is probably the cheapest, but if not, then just buy millet flour in bulk.  Currently, this is a great price.

Sorghum Flour: Sorghum flour is a frequent player in many sweet recipes I have found...muffins, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, coffee cakes, etc.  If you are planning on making sweet treats, I would keep some sorghum flour on hand.   I found this flour to be cheapest from

Xanthum Gum:  This can be bought online or found in your regular grocery store.  While it is pretty expensive, you don't use much of it per recipe, so a bag lasts a long while.  This probably isn't something to buy in bulk, just buy a bag when you need it. Here is a decent price.

Masa Harina:  This is a made from corn, and has lime added.  I have been able to buy this very inexpensively from our regular grocery store.  I'm not sure if all stores carry it, but I happen to be currently living in Southwest Florida which has a large Hispanic population.  I like to use this for thickening sauces (as it is cheaper than using other gluten free flours). It is most commonly used to make corn tortillas.  I haven't tried this yet, but I plan to soon. Homemade tortillas are vastly superior to store-bought in taste, and I'm not a big fan of corn tortillas...always preferred the flour ones.

 Apple Cider Vinegar: No, this isn't a flour, but it seems to show up in a lot of recipes anyway.  So, we always have it on hand.  Plus, there are a lot of health benefits of apple cider vinegar.  You can learn more about apple cider vinegar and honey.

I'm sure that seems like a large list, but it really isn't compared to all the other possibilities out there. 

That's basically it, other than your other basic items, honey, molasses, sugars, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc....just things all cooks usually have on hand.  There are many other gluten free flours out on the market, but I can't afford to buy them all or try them all.

Some of the more common ones are soy flour (I try to avoid soy), potato starch (this is less nutritious than other flours and you can easily find recipes without it), bean flours (these are pretty healthy, but not as well tolerated by some people, digestive-ly speaking), teff flour (good, but I wouldn't use it enough to be worth stocking), quinoa flour (healthy, and when someone gave us a bag of quinoa, I did grind it up in my blender and use it), amaranth (not used enough to make it worth my money).  I'm sure there are others too.  

Everyone seems to find different flours and items they like, but these are the ones I am currently using and will probably be featured on this blog and in my recipes!

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