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Can we make it clear Can we get that straight? Can marshmallows be FRIENDS to gluten-free eaters?
Turns out the answer is possibly as complicated as your last relationship.
Marshmallows are sweet little pillows of loveliness. However, a research report showed that they need to contain less than 20 ppm gluten to be considered gluten-free.
Gluten is a protein that comes from wheat. Some similar grains (like rye, barley, and cross grains) also contain small amounts of gluten.
Gluten-free labeling is strictly regulated by the FDA (and rightly so). This means that some companies avoid using the label even if their products are unlikely to contain gluten.
People living with celiac disease or high gluten sensitivity should choose brands that are confident enough to declare themselves gluten-free.
Dandies, doumak, and some flavors of peeps are gluten-free. The classic brand Marshmallow Fluff is also safe for people who react to gluten.
You can always check to see if other brands, including private labels, are also using the certified gluten-free label before dropping your money on marshmallows.
Allergen information is often readily available on the food manufacturer’s website. You may also have the option to contact a company representative if you have a specific concern.
When reviewing a food product’s ingredient list, look out for some unsuspecting elements such as:
- Brewing yeast
- brown rice syrup (which sometimes uses barley enzymes)
- Malt (including malt syrup, malt extract, barley malt flour)
- Wheat and wheat starch (unless the manufacturer has explicitly processed them gluten-free according to FDA standards)
Cross-contamination with gluten is also possible during food processing. (My god, gluten, you’re darned everywhere!) Utensils like flour sifters, cutting boards, and communal containers provide opportunities for gluten to sneak into otherwise safe products like a flammable ninja.
The Celiac Disease Foundation says wheat flour can even stay in the air and accidentally cross-contaminate foods that are in a common area. While these issues are more likely to be a small bakery rather than a large food processing plant, you may want to look for gluten-free brands.
Kraft JET-PUFFED marshmallows say nothing about gluten-free, although they do not specifically contain wheat.
Many marshmallow munchies, like Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate and Lucky Charms Cereal, claim to be gluten-free. However, ingredients that are processed in the same facility as other gluten-containing products may still be highly sensitive to gluten.
Food has a low threshold for gluten-free certification. As a general rule, oats, barley, and rye can contain traces of gluten. This is why many people with gluten sensitivity avoid them altogether.
Kellogg’s Rice Krispies are for example Not gluten-free as they contain malt. Since malt comes from barley, traces of gluten can crack, crackle and burst through the product.
Doctors classify people who avoid gluten for health reasons as either celiac disease or non-celiac wheat sensitivity. People without celiac disease won’t test positive, but they can have many of the same symptoms, such as:
Removing gluten from the diet usually resolves these symptoms if the underlying cause is gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Keeping a food journal and meeting with a nutritionist can help you figure out if gluten is grinding your gears up.
If you don’t eat gluten, you probably learned a few tricks in the kitchen. This is because many processed foods may have gluten contamination. Packaged items can be difficult to rely on.
Making marshmallows is a fun, fluffy, tasty project (try saying it with a bite of it). And by doing it yourself, you manage the amounts and types of ingredients.
Made for yourself gluten free marshmallows, you will need:
You can add freeze-dried strawberries, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, or cocoa powder to flavor your marshmallows.
Make sure to check the label of every ingredient you buy to make sure it’s certified gluten-free.
Marshmallows are mostly made from simple sugar and water. Some brands add coloring and gelatin. Others rely on tapioca and carrageenan to achieve this fluffiness.
(Sorry the answer doesn’t have clouds or unicorn hair – we don’t make the rules.)
Some varieties of marshmallow can be flavored with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or even pumpkin. Just like with making caramel, the trick in making the perfect marshmallow is getting to the right temperature for the right time.
Sugar burns quickly so cooking marshmallows is an art (and science) just long enough before hitting it for the texture you want. Once your mixture is ready, you will need to let it sit for at least 4 hours before cutting it into cubes.
Most brands of marshmallow are naturally gluten-free – but it’s important to double-check and make sure the nutritional information is available.
Manufacturers don’t always formulate different flavors or variations of an otherwise gluten-free brand like the original. For those with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, this is never safe.
When in doubt, you can always keep the gluten off indefinitely by making marshmallows at home. Create loads of fun flavors as a personal science experiment (and a fluffed sense of achievement).
Just make sure all the kids are old enough to eat them safely before sharing.