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Gluten is an amorphous ergastic protein found when combined with starch in the endosperm of some cereals such as wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. Gluten constitutes about 80% of the proteins contained in wheat that are composed of gliadin and gluten. Gluten is a protein group found  that forms the structure of the bread dough. Gluten holds the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the yeast and expands during fermentation, and provides the elasticity and extensibility (stretch) in bread dough. Gluten and gliadin are the two proteins that form during this process. Elastic like strands of protein are formed when the wheat flour and a liquid are mixed; gluten becomes the framework for any flour mixture when the protein hardens upon heating
in the oven.

Some individuals are unable to digest gluten because of an intolerance or a disease. An gluten intolerance requires the individual to abstain from gluten containing products such as wheat, barely, and rye, but they are sometimes able to tolerate Kamut or Spelt that have smaller amounts of gluten found in them.

Individuals with Celiac Sprue are unable to consume |gluten even in spelt and Kamut. Individuals with Celiac Sprue must abstain foods and grains with gluten and this is a lifetime commitment since there is no known cure for Celiac Sprue at this time.

Individuals with Autism and Asperger's syndrome may be sensitive to gluten and casein, both which seems to have an opiate effect on these individuals. The opiod effect of gluten is cause by gluten exorphines
and gliadorphin that are formed when the gluten is digested.

Individuals with Dermatitis Herpetiformis must also avoid gluten. There is no cure for this disease that causes blister to appear on the arms, leg and torso of the individual. There are medicines that can help mask the symptoms but they are not a cure. The only cure at this time for D.H. is strict adherence to a gluten free diet.

The word gluten is often attached to rice and corn. No gluten is found in rice, even glutinous rice. Glutinous rice is named this because of its
sticky nature when cooked. Corn does have gluten but the composition of this type of gluten is different than that found in wheat, barely, rye and spelt and most Celiacs tolerate corn well.

Soy, rice, corn, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, and teff are just a few of the items that can be milled into suitable flours to bake with that contain no gluten. When using millet, buckwheat, and amaranth make sure you check for cross contamination with the manufacturer before consuming.

Wheat free and Gluten free flours

Wheat flour contains gluten which is the protein that strengthens and binds dough in baking. Because of this, when baking with wheat free flours you may need to source alternative binding agents.

Wheat free recipes using flour substitutes usually have been carefully formulated to get the best possible result taking into account the problems associated with lack of wheat gluten, therefore substitution can be a risky experiment. If you try substitution, then be aware that you may get a failure, so don't do it for the first time if cooking for an important occasion.

The flours listed below are alternatives to wheat flour. However it is important to be aware that there is no exact substitute for wheat flour, and recipes made with wheat free alternative flours will be different from those containing wheat.

  • Amaranth flour-Amaranth flour is made from the seed of the Amaranth plant, which is a leafy vegetable. Amaranth seeds are very high in protein, which makes a nutritious flour for baking. Alternative names: African spinach, Chinese spinach, Indian spinach, elephants ear. Wheat Free Gluten Free

  • Arrowroot flour-Arrowroot flour is ground from the root of the plant, and is very useful for thickening recipes. It is tasteless, and the fine powder becomes clear when it is cooked, which makes it ideal for thickening clear sauces.Wheat Free Gluten Free

  • Barley flour-Barley only contains a small amount of gluten, so is rarely used to make bread, with the exception of unleavened bread. It has a slightly nutty flavor, and can be used to thicken or flavor soups or stews. Blended with other alternative flours it is also fairly versatile for cakes, biscuits, pastry, dumplings etc.Wheat free Gluten free

  • Brown rice flour-Brown rice flour is heavier than its relative, white rice flour. It is milled from unpolished brown rice so it has a higher nutritional value than white, and as it contains the bran of the brown rice it has a higher fiber content. This also means that it has a noticeable texture, a bit grainy. It does have a slight nutty taste, which will sometimes come out in recipes depending on the other ingredients, and the texture will also contribute to a heavier product than recipes made with white rice flour. It is not often used completely on its own because of its heavier nature. Bulk buying is not recommended as it is better used when fresh, store in an airtight container. Wheat free Gluten free

  • Buckwheat flour-Buckwheat flour is not, despite its name a form of wheat, buckwheat is actually related to rhubarb. The small seeds of the plant are ground to make flour. It has a strong nutty taste so is not generally used on its own in a recipe, as the taste of the finished product can be very overpowering, and a little bitter. Alternative names: beech wheat, kasha, saracen corn.
    Wheat free Gluten free

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