Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Made in a Facility that..."

Well, I have an unfortunate update on sorghum flour front.  We invited celiac faculty member and his family over for Pizza, and Riley went to the Indian Grocery to get more Jowar.  She came home with a stack of flour, took a closer look at the bag and saw the following: 
"Made in a Facility that processes Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Soy, Milk and Wheat." 
How long has that been there?  Was it always there?  My best guess is that I saw it when I started baking, and thought that it was close enough for now.  In the beginning, we were trying a lot of things, and weren't sure what we would end up using.  We still needed to find substitutes for bouillon, barbeque sauce and things like that.  So I put "Made in a facility that..." below "Food Starch - Modified" on the priority list of things to worry about.  I guess the warning was there the whole time and I never revisited the issue.  I have felt so much better not eating wheat that I stopped thinking about Jowar potentially being a problem.  And the Maestro is sooo much better than he had been...
This wouldn't be a problem, really, if it wasn't for Hildegard.  I warned her that my flour wasn't certified gluten-free before she ever ate anything I baked, but I know that if she had looked at the package, she would not have chosen to eat any of it.  Riley stewed for about a week before bringing me the phone and asking me to tell her that we'd been slowly poisoning her for the last semester.  Hildegard actually had a pretty good laugh about it.  I guess the time she sat down and ate six muffins, she felt a little funny, and she has occasionally gotten a small rash.  So it's not exactly "No Harm, No Foul", but we didn't almost kill her.
I can't give up Sorghum Flour, though, even if I have to give up the Indian Version of it.  Sorghum flour doesn't taste like beans.  It has more flavour than rice and less than Millet.  It is a pale yellow, and silky smooth.  It is a good weight when I mix it with some tapioca starch.  It has comparable protein to Quinoa.  It is everything I have wanted it to be, including inexpensive, except certified gluten-free.  I know Bob's Red Mill sells it, but I can't afford that.  More on that point in another post coming soon.
I emailed Twin Valley Mills, in Nebraska, to order some of theirs.  They sell it in a couple of sizes, and I think with shipping it comes out to 15 cents a pound more than what I am paying now.  For you it may be less, and they only process sorghum there.  This was just before Christmas, and they haven't gotten back to me yet.
Anyway, I left Riley stuck in the narrative with another full celiac coming over for pizza, and possibly contaminated flour.  She called me at work and I found this recipe by Carol Fenster, Ph.D. that calls for Brown rice and Tapioca, both of which we had.  This recipe won't work for Hildegard because it uses yeast as a flavoring.  I'm pretty sure that's the only reason to have it in there, because there isn't enough sugar to feed that much yeast, and she doesn't call for any rise time.  We ran out of Tapioca starch and used some corn starch for half of that, and I am not sure if we had gelatin or not.
We were really pleased with how it turned out.  It was a great crispy flat crust, just what Riley likes in a crust of that type.  The kids couldn't or didn't chew it, so we still need the soft crust I was working on, but it got us through the crisis at hand.  I'm not sure what six people she served that to, but I would plan on being able to share that much dough between the two of you.
Wheat-Free and Gluten-Free Pizza Crust recipe

1 tablespoon gluten-free dry yeast
2/3 cup brown rice flour or bean flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 tablespoons dry milk powder or non-dairy milk powder*
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
2/3 cup warm water (105 degrees F)
1/2 teaspoon sugar or 1/4 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In medium bowl using regular beaters (not dough hooks), blend the yeast, flours, dry milk powder, xanthan gum, salt, gelatin powder, and Italian herb seasoning on low speed. Add warm water, sugar (or honey), olive oil, and vinegar. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. (If the mixer bounces around the bowl, the dough is too stiff. Add water if necessary, one tablespoon at a time, until dough does not resist beaters.) The dough will resemble soft bread dough. (You may also mix in bread machine on dough setting.)

Put mixture into 12-inch pizza pan or on baking sheet (for thin, crispy crust), 11 x 7-inch pan (for deep dish version) that has been coated with cooking spray. Liberally sprinkle rice flour onto dough, then press dough into pan, continuing to sprinkle dough with flour to prevent sticking to your hands. Make edges thicker to contain the toppings. Bake the pizza crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread pizza crust with your favorite sauce and toppings. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until top is nicely browned.

Serves 6.


  1. I have mixed feelings about items that were made in the same facilities as wheat - I usually do eat them, unless I get a reaction. There is a big difference between "made on shared equipment with wheat" and "made in the same facility as wheat products"... Namely, a facility may well be producing their gluten-free flours in a sealed room that has no gluten exposure, whereas I don't trust that the same equipment would be thoroughly washed.

    Did you know that Modified FOod Starch in the United States, as of 1/06, is now totally gluten-free unless it says clearly "Modified Food Starch (Wheat)" or "Modified Wheat Starch"? If you see MFS without any qualifiers, it is derived from corn. This is due to the new regulations about allergen labelling. Yay!

  2. I agree with By the Bay here. Finding out that I could eat modified food starch made life a little easier. (But by the time I had figured that out, I was off packaged food anyway!)

    The Bob's Red Mill sorghum flour is excellent, and it's made in their gluten-free facility. I've been using sorghum so much lately that I've threatened to turn into a bag of sorghum flour. Part of that is your influence!

  3. I didn't know that. Last time I was in Canada, I noticed that everything specified what kind of starch it started from. It will be very helpful to know that I can eat food starch - modified, even though it doesn't say specifically.

    It helps me feel a little better to know that you would have likely been willing to try my muffins, even though it had the potential to be contaminated.

    That isn't the sort of gamble I can usually take with other people though. I can't assume that that is going to be something other people are going to think is worth it. I've seen Hildegard pass up foods labelled that way often enough to feel bad about feeding it to her. She still likes us, though.

  4. Thanks Shauna. That means a lot. I've sometimes wondered if anyone who reads this actually tries anything. It seems like you are the sort of person who wants to come up with your own recipe for everything, so you using the flour I champion is quite an honor.

    It did make me quite happy to see your Ginger Bread recipe the other day. I especially liked that it had just Sorghum and brown rice. I like simple.

    And it will be nice to be able to open up a can of beans for the kids once and a while without having to find exactly the right can that doesn't have food starch in it. We've been using some varieties of Bush's, and Aldi brand, but this will open up several more possibilities...

  5. GF for life1:56 AM

    I routinely eat things that are made in a facility that processes wheat. And, I eat things that are made on shared equipment, too.

    To me, the issue is whether or not we can trust the companies to be thorough in their cleaning. If I call them, or email them, and they tell me they are careful, I take them at their word. Each year, the blood tests are normal. Must mean that I'm not contaminating myself.

    That said, I do worry about some of the things processed in other countries. Between language differences and the fact I often can't contact them easily, I am skeptical.

    If you really like sorghum - and I do - buy a 25 pound bucket of the whole grain - it's like $15, plus $10 shipping. You can grind it when you need it. I "had" to get a grain mill to do this, but it's so worth it. Brown rice is so inexpensive whole. And really easy to grind finely in a good mill. Yeah, the mill was expensive. But I have fresh flours any time I need them - of just about any kind.

  6. That's a good idea. We've looked at mills a little bit. I'll take a look around for whole sorghum.

    Where do you get yours? What kind of Mill do you have?

  7. All this labeling sure doesn't give you the greatest sense of confidence in remaining GF when baking. I have eaten plenty of thing from places that "process wheat" and so forth, since it is nearly impossible not too. I try my best to go that route unless it's a last option, which all too often seems the case. And, the food-starch thing (as others have observed) is fine here in the USA.

    Best wishes for 2007!

  8. Contamination is a big issue. Sigh.

    This pizza crust sounds perfect. I am craving pizza this week. Crazy.

    Just wanted to stop by and wish you a healthy, happy 2007!

  9. It hasn't always been there. I too have been buying sorghum from the Indian market and noticed that my last bag had that disclaimer on it. I chose to use it anyway and haven't noticed any ill effects except my not so tasty experimental baking abilities. Ginger

    What??? I can eat modified food starch? Life is grand!!

  10. Now I read the rest of the comments. sells the KitchenAid grain mill attachment for much less than a speciality store. I bought one for my brother this Christmas and he says it works great. Other sources of mills would be your local homebrewing supply stores as most homebrewers like to grind their own grain. You can spend anywhere from $75 to $200.

    Ginger (former homebrewer current celiac)

  11. Anonymous5:18 PM

    I would really appreciate the name of a
    brand of gluten-free red lentils, as I
    use them a lot, but have found traces of
    wheat and barley in some packages.
    Thanks from a GFP in Sarnia, Ontario.