Are Spices And Herbs Gluten-Free?
Spices and herbs add flavours, aromas, colour and textures in cooking. They are also used for medicinal properties, for example, oregano, turmeric and ginger all have significant health benefits. Because of their strong preservative quality, they are also used as natural preservatives in food storage. For example, rosemary is known for its preservative properties in meat. Many spices and herbs have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help support our immune system.
So what is the difference between spices and herbs? Spices are generally made from the bark, seeds or roots of plants. They are dried and then crushed into a powder. Herbs come from leaves of a plant that lacks woody stems, with exception to some such as thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. They are dried, then crumbled or ground
The questions is, are they safe for a gluten-free diet? Fresh herbs are always gluten-free. Individual spices and dried herbs do not contain gluten but, depending on how and where they are packaged, they may not be gluten-free. If they are packaged in a factory that packages wheat or products that contain gluten, there is a possibility that they could be cross-contaminated with gluten. A report done in 2013 by the Canadian food inspection agency found that 24% of packaged spices and dried herbs contained gluten. This report was based on domestic and imported spices and dried herb samples across Canada. This is an alarming number and may explain why we still can get glutened even though we follow a 100% gluten-free diet. I found that most restaurants that offer gluten-free items do not use gluten-free spices, so there is a high possibility for the food to contain traces of gluten, even though they use gluten-free ingredients, such as pasta or bread.
When it comes to seasonings (a blend of spices), such as taco seasoning, allspice, or curry powder, be very cautious. Some seasonings may contain wheat flour, wheat starch, or hydrolyzed wheat protein for added bulk, thus reducing the cost of the seasoning. It is essential to read labels or check with the manufacturer to see if they are gluten-free.
Buying gluten-free spices and dried herbs
Do not buy spices and dried herbs from bulk bins, they are easily cross-contaminated from other bins that may contain gluten
Choose spices that are labelled gluten-free. I always buy certified organic gluten-free spices
Avoid imported spices from third world countries. Food safety and labelling may not be as stringent. In North America, we are fortunate because wheat-based ingredients must be declared on the label.
Most spices labelled organic are usually gluten-free. But, it is best to check with the manufacturer to be sure.
Buy spices and dried herbs in small quantities. Most spices and dried herbs stay fresh up to 9 – 12 months when properly stored
Store them in airtight glass containers in a cool and dark place
For best flavour, buy whole spices and grind them. You can use an electric coffee grinder to grind them or use a mortar and pestle
Using spices and herbs in cooking, enhance food flavours, add beautiful colours and textures and strengthen our immune system. Also, using a wide variety of spices and herbs allows us to cut back on salt and sweeteners. If you have celiac disease or are gluten-intolerant, you should always use gluten-free spices. Because even a small amount of gluten can affect your health.
Here are my three favourite gluten-free spice blends
Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp. GF chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. GF ground cumin
- 1 tsp. Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp. GF ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. GF paprika
- 1/2 tsp. GF dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. GF garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. GF crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp. GF onion powder
Taco seasoning is most often used in Mexican recipes
- 1 Tbsp. GF ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. GF ground nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp. Gf ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. GF ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp. GF ground black pepper
Allspice is used in pancakes, muffins, cakes or bread recipes
Gluten-Free Curry Powder
- 2 Tbsp. GF ground turmeric
- 2 Tbsp. GF ground coriander
- 2 Tbsp. GF ground cumin
- 1 tsp. GF ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp. GF ground mustard seed
- 1/2 tsp. GF ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. GF cayenne pepper
Curry powder is often used in Indian recipes
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of only gluten-free recipes or its staff.