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Tuesday’s Tip: Is Vanilla Extract Gluten-Free?

December 16, 2012

Is it just me, or do a lot of gluten-free baking recipes call for “gluten-free vanilla extract”?  This is an ingredient I would have never thought gluten could possible be in.  What else is there besides vanilla that adds the sweet hint of flavor to your baked goods? After doing a little research I learned that the alcohol in vanilla extract is grain derived, meaning that it can contain traces of gluten, unless it is made from corn.  Some people think that it is okay to have wheat-based alcohol because the gluten is strained out during the manufacturing process (similar to hard alcohol).   Depending on the brand, it could also contain caramel coloring, which is under the umbrella of gluten containing ingredients to be weary of.   There is also the issue of cross-contamination if the product is made in a facility that makes gluten containing products.

Today at Whole Foods (when I was buying the cookies) I discovered Simply Organic, a vanilla extract labeled gluten-free!  W00hoo!!  It is a 4 fluid-ounce jar, so I know it will last me a life time.  I’ve also read online that Kroger’s and McCormick flavor extracts are safe because they use synthetically derived alcohol.  If you are unsure, it is always best to call the company before ruining a perfect good, gluten-free, baked good with just a couple of tablespoons of a sneaky, gluten ingredient.

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*To read more about the information I found, click here  for the celiac.com discussion page.

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