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Should I Be Concerned about Gluten in Buckwheat?

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  • Written By: Jack Magnus
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 03 August 2018
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Buckwheat is a fruit that has been used as a food source since about 6,000 BCE. Although its name might lead some people to think of this fruit as wheat, buckwheat is not a grain. There is no gluten in buckwheat. Buckwheat is found on the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center’s list of foods that are safe for consumption by people who have been advised to follow a gluten-free diet.

This rating of safe is restricted to pure buckwheat. Vigilance must be maintained to ensure that a product you buy in the store does not contain wheat, wheat byproducts or other grains containing gluten. Even small amounts of gluten in buckwheat can be harmful to someone who has celiac disease or other gluten intolerance conditions. There are several things for which you should watch.

Buckwheat mixes that are not specifically listed as gluten-free, such as buckwheat pancake mix, might contain ingredients that should not be eaten by people following a gluten-restricted diet. People who are sensitive to gluten should be familiar with the list of prohibited foods. There are many possible ingredients that can add gluten in buckwheat products, such as hydrolyzed vegetable proteins and some types of vinegar.

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Another cause for concern is the possibility that wheat, oats or rye, which contain gluten, are harvested in fields adjacent to the buckwheat crop. Some buckwheat farmers grow only gluten-free crops. Others maintain distances between buckwheat and wheat crops, but this can be problematic for those who are concerned about the presence of even a minute amount of wheat in a product. Most growers can assure less than 1 percent contamination by gluten in buckwheat.

The best milling companies have dedicated equipment used only for buckwheat processing. Some companies will clean the mills after processing grain, but the air might still be adulterated. These companies typically will donate the initial run of buckwheat to ensure a purer milled product, but this might not be enough for extremely sensitive individuals. Getting flours and other buckwheat products from sources that can ensure there is no gluten in their products will eliminate any cause for concern. The companies that mill buckwheat are aware of these concerns and will answer any inquiries about their practices and products.

Wholegrain buckwheat products are considered safe. Buckwheat is boiled to make a breakfast cereal that is a good substitute for oats or other gluten-rich hot cereals. Wholegrain buckwheat is also known as kasha. It is mixed with potatoes to make kasha knishes or served as a side dish. The Japanese soba noodle is an excellent example of how cooking with buckwheat produces a product that has universal demand.

There are many types of bread, cakes, cake mixes and other products that are labeled gluten-free on the market, and many contain buckwheat. Buckwheat flour can be milled into finely grained light flour that is visually indistinguishable from wheat flour. It has an excellent texture for breads and cakes, and it has a rich, nutty taste. Most baked products that contain buckwheat and that are labeled as being gluten-free are safe to use, but the ingredients panel should be checked to ensure that the source of the buckwheat is certified to have used gluten-free processing methods.

Many people who are on gluten-free diets have discovered that baking with buckwheat flour addresses their demand for safe and delicious breads, rolls and cakes. There are varying degrees of grind available depending, on the desired end product. Flour colors will range from dark, which might have a good percentage of the hull processed in, to almost white, which is entirely free of the hull.

Purchasing and using a good home bread making machine can save money when compared with the cost of commercially baked goods. There are many excellent recipes available that will yield a superior product. A person who bakes his or her own food at home also has the security of knowing the provenance of the buckwheat flour used.

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