Gluten-free foods are becoming more widespread across the East Coast, especially in densely populated areas. It’s easier than ever before to find gluten-free foods at your local grocery stores and restaurants. However, one ingredient that is often missed when ordering gluten-free is oil. If your gluten-free food was fried in vegetable oil, it may no longer be gluten-free. Vegetable oils can harbor gluten ingredients that are used as fillers.
Frying seafood is a delicate process and even more so when you factor in using gluten-free ingredients. Here are three of the top gluten-free oils for frying seafood and other foods and how to decode gluten on food labels.
1. Avocado Oil
Excellent for cooking, sautéing or frying, avocado oil is a healthy and gluten-free oil with a smoke point of 500 degrees, making it ideal for frying shrimp, chicken or anything else your taste buds desire. Rich in healthy fats and antioxidants, avocado oil has been proven to improve heart health and decrease cholesterol.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is the powerhouse of fry-friendly gluten-free oils. Because 90% of its fatty acids are saturated, coconut oil is resistant to heat, which means it can endure eight hours of continuous frying without losing its quality. It’s affordable in bulk and doesn’t impart a strong flavor onto the food you’re frying, which is critical for seafood products.
3. Olive Oil
Deemed one of the healthiest fats on earth, olive oil is a great gluten-free choice for frying. Bear in mind that its flavor and fragrance may not withhold long-term heat exposure and may transfer to your foods. Thanks to its high level of monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil is also highly resistant to heat, so you don’t need to pigeonhole this oil for salad dressings only.
How to Decode Gluten on Food Labels
Manufacturers are not required to disclose gluten on food labels, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – only once the label of “gluten free” is used does the food have to meet certain labeling requirements. That makes things a little tricky when trying to root out gluten-free oils. Next time you’re in the cooking oil aisle of your local supermarket, watch out for these hidden terms that actually translate to gluten:
- Triticum vulgare (wheat)
- Hordeum vulgare (barley)
- Secale cereale (rye)
- Triticum spelta (spelt)
- Triticale (somewhere between wheat and rye)
Gluten Free Oils at Restaurants
At home in your own kitchen, you have more control over what goes into your meals. You can check the labels when out grocery shopping and stock your cupboards and fridge with gluten-free produce only. At restaurants, however, you have a lot less control. It’s important to choose to eat at restaurants that not only offer gluten-free foods, but also understand how to prepare gluten-free foods without cross-contamination.
Not all restaurants understand that their oil can affect whether a product is gluten-free. Washing tools between use is not enough to prevent cross contamination. Restaurants must utilize separate workstations and tools for gluten-free cooking. For fried foods, restaurants must use a separate frying vat that is strictly for gluten-free foods only. Extreme as it may sound, these measures are crucial for preventing potential gluten particles from causing problems for gluten-sensitive customers.
The Best Gluten-Free Fried Seafood New England Has to Offer
At Woodman’s, we’ve designated an entire space for gluten-free food preparation. We use dedicated gluten-free oil to fry our delicious seafoods, like our famous fried clams. One hundred years ago, everything on our menu was already gluten-free and nearly everything on our menu today still is. Contact us at (978) 768-2559 to learn more.