When it comes to condiments and sauces, gluten can be a hard one to tackle. The products often contain multiple additives which makes it harder to decide for yourself whether or not you can eat it on a gluten-free diet. Today I will answer the question for you, is mustard gluten-free?
You’ll find the answer not to be a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but read on to find out what to pay attention to!
Be aware that I’m only talking about mustard in this article. Pure plain mustard. For mustard sauces (like dressings), there is often a much longer ingredients list and thus more reason to be careful!
If you want to read more about gluten, read on in my article.
The Breakdown of Mustard
Mustard comes in many shapes and forms (and flavors). And all of these come with different ingredients. The most basic recipe for mustard is ground mustard seeds with a liquid. Added on to that can be a wide variety of spices, herbs, honey, oil, wine, grape juice, vinegar and so on.
That list of ingredients will provide no harm for anyone trying to avoid gluten.
But then the food-industry came around…
Do you have questions about gluten free eating? Schedule an online consultation at my online dietitian practice Darm diëtist, and I will help you with all your questions!
Mustard and Gluten
When you look at the ingredient list of mustard in the supermarket, you will notice that often it’s mentioned that the product can contain (traces of) gluten or gluten-containing grains. Sometimes even when the grains itself are not mentioned on the label. That makes it much more confusing to find gluten-free mustard that suits you.
Sometimes you’re lucky, and the label will state that the product is gluten-free. In that case, you can rely on it to be safe.
When a label mentions that the product can contain gluten, that often means that the product is produced in a factory where gluten-containing products are also produced. There is a chance that the product will get contaminated with gluten from the production of another product. Especially when they use machines that are hard to clean thoroughly.
Another reason can be cross-contamination from the field where the mustard seeds are grown. When mustard seeds are growing, it can be that a ‘lost’ wheat grain is also growing in the same field. The fields are out in the open, and seeds can travel with the wind. After the harvest, the mustard seeds will usually be cleaned, but there is never 100% certainty that there aren’t any lost gluten-containing grains in there. Even though the chances are very slim.
In this case, a very fine ground mustard is safer. The smaller the seeds are ground, the better any lost grains will be spread throughout the mustard. This lowers the chances of having a bite with a bigger amount of gluten than the gluten-free threshold.
Apart from the warning that a product can contain gluten, it is also smart to check the ingredients. The basic ingredients of mustard don’t contain gluten, but sometimes gluten-containing ingredients are added as thickeners. So always check the ingredients for gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, rye, spelt and kamut.
The last thing to pay attention to is the vinegar that is used for the mustard.
Pure distilled vinegar is gluten-free, but malt vinegar is not. Malt vinegar is made from barley and can still contain traces of gluten. Any distilled product (even distilled alcohol) is gluten-free, so that is always a safe bet.
Vinegar types like cider vinegar, apple vinegar, wine vinegar, and grape vinegar are also gluten-free since it does not use any gluten-containing starter ingredients.
If you’re not sure about the vinegar that is used in the mustard, contact the producing company to check with them. Better to be safe than sorry.
The Conclusion: Is Mustard Gluten-free?
In general, mustard should be gluten-free. The basic ingredients are not containing any gluten. Be aware of the type of vinegar that is used and choose fine ground mustard to be safer.
When a mustard label has the gluten-free logo, then you should be fine.