Let’s take a quick refresher as to what gluten is. Without getting too technical, it is a name for proteins which are found especially in wheat but also in barley, durum, semolina, farina and other products including rye.
People who are celiac must have a gluten-free diet to avoid the long-term effects on the small intestine. There are another group of people who are known to be sensitive to gluten but don’t test positive for celiac. These people are known as gluten-sensitive.
Spices don’t contain gluten– usually
Think about it for a moment; cardamom is cardamom, not wheat so it doesn’t have gluten.
Why then do we need to look for gluten free spices? The answer lies in two possible uses of wheat; some producers bulk up a spice with flour to reduce costs, but more importantly, spices can be packaged in a facility where there is a possibility of cross-contamination. Wheat is introduced accidentally as it were.
Can Celiacs tolerate any gluten?
The 2014 publication, “The Celiac Expert”, points to a Celiac being able to cope with 10mg of gluten per day. Amazingly, if a spice were to have 20,000 ppm that could affect someone with celiac disease at the level of even just putting in a pinch like you would with salt.
How to get around it
The best way to get around the problem is to buy unprocessed spices. If you have a piece of ginger in front of you which you peel and chop yourself, you know it is gluten-free.
It does take a little more time to prepare, but that disadvantage is overweighed by the fantastic increase in taste and freshness.
The bottom line
Spices should be gluten-free, but if you’re worried, buy them fresh and prepare them yourself. It’s probably cheaper too!