Sunday, August 06, 2006

Why all the added Gums in Gluten-Free foods?

Have you read the labels on most Gluten-Free products? Better yet, how about the GF Recipes in most of the recipe books for the Celiac and Wheat-Free community? What is up with all these Gums in there -- Xanthan, Guar, and so on?

I understand that without Gluten in a recipe, it can be a bit challenging to reproduce the texture associated with the Gluten-containing original, but for the most part that is the limit of it: a challenge. My family has been baking gluten-free recipes for a couple years now, and we have only resorted to added gums once -- when we purchase our first GF baking book that used the stuff like everywhere, whether it added any value or not. And, fact is, most of what we tried to use in in (per the recipes in the books we tried) ended up just plain bad, regardless of added Gums. Fact is, if the recipe isn't any good without the gums, it probably will remain not very appealing even with the gums. Or, so is our experience.

So, we set out to bake all the "tough" recipes like Cakes, cookies, and even a few breads without using any added vegetable gums or thickeners, and through much trial and error, we achieved results that are as good (and in some cases better) than the gluten/wheat-containing counterparts.

So, where does this prevailing opinion about the "need" for adding all these gums to GF products come from? Perhaps it is "needed" in packaged commercial goods that must last indefinitely on the shelf (though, isn't that the job of preservatives and not gums?).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Baking with Sorghum Beer

Why bake with Sorghum Beer? Simple,... it is the only thing the stuff tastes good enough for :)

In all honesty, I guess I am glad there is a Gluten-Free Beer on the market made from Sorghum, so that when I have a moment where I feel like having a beer, I can, without the worry of Celiac repercussions. But, I rarely get this desperate, as I find the taste quite sad and lacking flavor (oh, I so crave a good dark beer like a Guinness). I am not the only one that feels this way, as this link Lakefront Brewery's New Grist Sorghum Beer rating tells the whole story -- it rated only in the 9th (yes, NINTH) percentile overall.

Perhaps Lakefront will experiment with adding some flavor to another variation of Celiac Safe / Gluten-Free Beer in the future. I was thinking perhaps trying some Millet, Amaranth, or perhaps even Roasted Buckwheat in the mix. If only I had a way to try this out myself.

But, back to the point: baking with Gluten Free Sorghum Beer. It works QUITE nicely as a substitute in recipes that would otherwise call for beer. My wife came up with the most awesome gluten-free onion rings (beer battered) that you could imagine using this stuff and some GF flours. I could hardly believe it when I tried one -- they matched anything I have had at fairs, restaurants, and such in the past (yes, I am comparing to the "real" wheat-flour containing versions)! And, we tested them out on our neighbors who also agreed on the verdict. So good in fact are they that we put this recipe as a "bonus recipe" in our new cookbook we are publishing.

Bottom line: we found a great use for all that Sorghum Beer I had lying around for lack of desire to drink the stuff.