Is Butter Gluten-Free? Don’t Make These Mistakes

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Is butter gluten-free? If you’re just beginning your gluten-free journey, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of foods you’ll now need to avoid or substitute out. Don't freak! Lots of common, delicious foods and ingredients are gluten-free, including butter. Can I get a woot woot for GF butter? Read on for the six best ways to avoid cross-contamination and keep butter gluten-free.

Butter is gluten-free as it contains only milk and sometimes salt. Cow milk is gluten-free regardless of the diet the cows in question. So butter is perfectly safe to put on your gluten-free toast or use in baking. Despite this, butter can be a BIG culprit in gluten-related mishaps. Why? The dreaded cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination occurs when gluten from external sources gets mixed with a food that is normally gluten-free. In the case of butter, this most often happens when someone is buttering bread and uses the same knife to add additional butter.

There are several ways to avoid this type of gluten cross-contamination. The easiest is to avoid reusing knives that have already touched gluten. This approach does have a downside as there will be double the amount of utensils to wash. If you have celiac, gluten intolerance, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, maintain separate butter sticks/dishes for gluten and gluten-free uses. Don’t forget to label your butter so you know which is which – gluten-free crumbs and crumbs from regular bread look the same.

Keep your butter in a covered container in order to prevent accidental contact with gluten in your refrigerator or on your counter. Do make sure you wash any containers thoroughly before using them for butter or any other gluten-free item. Residue from previous storage choices can also lead to cross contamination.

6 BEST WAYS TO AVOID CROSS-CONTAMINATION AND KEEP BUTTER GLUTEN-FREE:
  1. Label, label, label! I write “GF” in sharpie on our butter and other gluten-free foods.
  2. Make sure the gluten-eaters in your home understand that double dipping into your gluten-free butter or other products will make you ill.
  3. No, gluten-eaters can’t “just wipe off the knife” if they need another slab of butter for their grilled cheese.
  4. Maintain separate butter sticks and dishes – this is a “must do” – trust me.
  5. Keep butter in an airtight covered container to prevent accidental contact with gluten during storage.
  6. Make sure any dish or container your butter is placed in has been carefully cleaned to ensure that gluten has been removed. Handwashing is great (insert sarcasm), but if possible, use your dishwasher to best sanitize.
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WHAT ABOUT DINING OUT?

There are restaurants that are 100% gluten-free, but sadly, they're not as common as restaurants with gluten-free menu items. 

So, when dining out and a lovely plate of butter is brought to your table, don't use it! Do you know for certain where those pretty layered pats of butter came from, and how the server handled them? Unless the butter is in sealed packets, just say no.

It's also important to avoid contamination issues from your dining party. Don't share your butter -- it's ok to be selfish. 

STILL REACTING?

If you consume butter and react as if you have consumed gluten, cross-contamination is the likely culprit. However, just because you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance doesn’t mean you can’t also have other food issues. If you have repeated reactions to butter, you may need to have a discussion with your doctor about whether you are intolerant of lactose (a protein found in milk and milk products) or if you have some other type of dairy allergy or sensitivity.

CHECK THOSE LABELS!

While most butter substitutes, such as margarine, are gluten-free, always check the ingredients as gluten can appear in often unexpected places due to its popularity as a texture enhancer in packaged and processed foods.

Feeling confused and overwhelmed on "what is gluten"?

You're not alone! I've put together a comprehensive list to decipher the mystery and meaning of gluten just for you.

Maureen

Maureen

Maureen Stanley was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2005. Way back before gluten-free was “mainstream“. Maureen created Hold The Gluten blog and podcast in 2008 as a way to connect members of the gluten-free community across the world.

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