Gluten Free FAQ
How are Astoria Mills Gluten Free Mixes manufactured?
Astoria Mills Gluten Free Baking Mixes are manufactured in a dedicated & certified gluten free facility using pharmaceutical grade IBC blending equipment. They are packaged in the same HACCP facility which is also certified Kosher.
Every ingredient sourced must be certified gluten free and kosher prior to entering the plant. Each batch of Astoria Mills baking mixes are independently laboratory tested.
Independently Tested by The Food Science Technology Centre, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
using the "Gluten test: Ridascreen. r-Biopha: MDL 5ppm;
Results: Non-Detectable Gluten"
Although 20ppm is generally recognized as safe for celiac and gluten sensitive individuals, because Astoria Mills founders must adhere to a strict gluten free diet, it is our aim to provide products with zero levels of gluten for ourselves and others.
- What are the new Canada Food Guide Regulations regarding gluten free foods?
Health Canada’s new gluten-free guidance
In June 2012, Health Canada issued a new gluten-free guidance document that gives an excellent overview of what gluten-free processors need to know about regulations, testing and more. Based upon the available scientific evidence, Health Canada considers products that do not exceed 20 ppm and are manufactured under “Good Manufacturing Practices,” to meet the intent of B.24.018 for a gluten-free claim. Under the labeling regulations for allergens and gluten sources, even low levels such as wheat flour as part of a seasoning mix (unless removed during processing), must be declared in the list of ingredients or in a “Contains” statement. Therefore, such a product cannot be labeled gluten-free.
- What about other allergens and preservatives in Astoria Mills baking mixes?
Astoria Mills Gluten Free Baking Mixes are free from: gluten, wheat, milk, lactose, casein, soy, bean, pea, sesame, tree nut, peanut, & sulphites as well as eggs, shellfish, and oats. Eggs are recommended in many recipes although egg substitutes can also be used. The plant processing Astoria Mills mixes is dedicated gluten free, is peanut and tree nut free, but does process soy. Astoria Mills mixes contain no artificial colors, flavors, fillers nor preservatives, only the carefully chosen ingredients listed on the labels. Although recipes may call for eggs or milk, substitutes can be used. Astoria Mills bread and pizza mixes are dairy free and you can make egg free versions using ground flax or other egg substitutes. Milk substitutes such as almond milk or soy milk have worked with good results in recipes that call for them (see e-cookbooks). Some differences in liquids may be needed. Add less liquid than called for in the recipe and then add a little at a time to make the desired thickness when substituting milk or eggs.
- Are Astoria Mills mixes certified organic and non GMO?
Ingredients sourced for Astoria Mills mixes are sourced from mostly organic sources. We use organic cane sugar to activate yeast in breads. Any corn starch in our mixes is sourced and stated as from non-GMO sources, because many people are specifically concerned with GMO corn, non GMO is important to us for all our ingredients. In order to certify our mixes specifically as organic, would raise the prices considerably. In this economy, we want everyone on a gluten free diet to be able eat well. Our care in sourcing ingredients is very strict, we only use ingredients we eat ourselves.
- Why do you have 3 different flour mixes rather than one which fits all?
Even wheat flour comes in different grades, specific for various types of recipes. We want you to have the optimum results in each category of cooking and baking. Trina Astor-Stewart developed these gluten free flours and found which works best in which baked goods, through over 20 years of cooking and baking for family and friends. Each flour is designed for optimum taste, nutrition and performance for a particular type of food. The lists below give an example of the types of foods each flour blend works best for. Of course there is always room for trying out new recipes of your own.
All Purpose Flour - Mix #1: Muffins, pancakes, snack cakes, cookies, pan breads, biscuits, crumble toppings, roux sauces, deep fry batters, dredging and coating.
Pastry Flour - Mix #2: Pies, pastry, cookies, yeast breads, biscuits, scones, (chocolate muffins - cakes - brownies), kneading, dusting, puddings, gravies.
Fine Flour - Mix #3: Tortes, fine cakes, crepes, breads, biscuits, fresh pasta, pierogies, wraps, lasagna noodles, phyllo dough, kneading and dusting mix
Aztec Harvest Blend - Mix #4: A yummy blend of naturally gluten free whole grains & seeds with sprouted flax and chia seeds. This mix is a stand alone mix for porridge and flatbreads and can also be used in other recipes as a whole grain flour. Use for Flat breads, pumpernickel style bread, hot porridge, add to Wholesome Bread Mix #6 or Awesome Bread Mix #7 for artisan breads, and add to any recipe for more whole grain/seed goodness.
(Mixes # 5, 6, and 7 are complete pizza, breads and bun mixes, all you do is add the liquids)
- What’s the difference between gluten-free and wheat-free?
Gluten is a combination of proteins that give wheat-, barley-, and rye-based baked goods their full structure. Wheat-free is the absence of any part of the wheat berry; gluten-free is the absence of gluten – which, is in rye, spelt, barley and to a lesser degree in oats, as well as in wheat. Oats, are often problematic because of cross-contamination with wheat, therefore only oats milled in dedicated facilities can be consumed by celiacs. Also, oats contain a protein similar to the protein in gluten, and this causes problems for many though not all people with celiac disease or gluten syndrome.
- What is the shelf life for Astoria Mills mixes?
Astoria Mills mixes have a shelf life of from 15 to 24 months in their original unopened containers. They should be stored in a cool dry place. Mixes can be frozen but this is not necessary under normal conditions. Once opened store in a cool dry place. Mixes containing yeast should not be stored in humid conditions once opened. If your kitchen is not entirely gluten free, make sure you store mixes in a separate area to avoid cross contamination.
- How do baked goods made with Astoria Mills gluten free mixes differ from gluten full baked goods?
We have found that taste, 'like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder' or taster. Everyone likes something different. People who have been on a gluten free diet for some time often forget what regular baking was like. That is why we have tested most of our recipes on people who are still eating wheat. If they like them, we feel we have a winner. We have seen all the claims out there, and don't want to give any additional hype. Gluten free is different… that being said, our breads are lighter and more like real breads. Many testers did not know they were eating gluten free until we told them. Remember, our breads were originally developed to pass the most rigid taste tests, kids! If they don't like it, they won't eat it. We go by the standard, "You can get someone to taste something out of politeness, but they will only finish eating it if it tastes good!" Everyone we ask to try, takes bite after bite. We have been told the aroma of Astoria Mills breads is the closest people have come to wheat bread ever! We've even gotten this same favorable response from wheat eaters who are keen to try it after just taking a whiff!
- Are Astoria Mills baking mixes Kosher?
Yes, Astoria Mills mixes are Kosher Parve and Kosher for Passover.
- Why do you not use Brown Rice flour, flax seeds, gluten free oats or buckwheat in your mixes?
1. Brown rice flour is nutritious, however, brown rice can contain molds which are not tolerated by some celiacs and especially those suffering from Candida. Therefore we use finely ground white rice flours.
2. Flax seeds are wonderfully nutritious and are easy to find. Flax meal can become rancid with time, so we feel you should be able to add freshly ground flax seeds as desired. Also flax is often used as an egg substitute, so when using eggs, the product may become too gummy if both are used.
3. There are great gluten free oats now available and we welcome your adding them to Astoria Mills recipes as desired. However, they are still recommended to be used by celiacs in moderation and even then some of us can't tolerate even a little.
4. As buckwheat is often routinely ground on the same equipment as wheat has been milled on, you need to make sure you source a gluten free version. Some celiacs we tested could not tolerate buckwheat even though it was certified gluten free.
Will baked goods and breads made from Astoria Mills mixes keep well? How long to the mixes themselves keep?
1. Baked goods kept in tightly closed containers and most often refrigerated keep well. Some recipes, like Vanilla Wafer cookies and Gingerbread or Healthy Graham Style Crackers can keep for a few months in tightly wrapped containers. Toasties, made using Brown Bread Mix #6 or White Bread Mix #7 are similar to melba toast and also keep very well. The two mixes with the best shelf life for fresh breads are Brown Bread - Mix #6 and White Bread - Mix #7 these stay soft and moist for 3 to 5 days. Breads and rolls made from Pizza & Bagel - Mix #5 stay soft and moist for 2 days after which toasting or re-heating revives the texture. With Astoria Mills mixes you can have fresh bread any time, mixes are so easy to make and we recommend making more than you plan to bake. Either keep some raw dough in the fridge to bake anytime within about 3 to 5 days or shape dough into loaves or buns then freeze, to bake place frozen in a cold oven and then turn it on and bake until done. Breads sound hollow when tapped as an indication they are done. This way with a minimum of effort you can have fresh bread that tastes great, any time. The aroma of Astoria Mills breads baking is very alluring. Just awesome!
2. Store Astoria Mills mixes in a cool dry place, shelf life is about 18 months. Mixes can be stored in the freezer if preferred. Please re-seal opened bags well.
- What should I do to avoid cross contamination if I use wheat in my kitchen for some family members?
According to the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) flour dust can hang in the air for up to 24 hours, so when baking GF in an area that also handles gluten, you can do your GF baking first and store it in a covered container. Wait 24 hours after baking with gluten-based ingredients before baking GF. Before starting, clean your baking area thoroughly – that means wiping down mixers, counters and working with clean dishes and utensils. You should use different utensils and baking containers for gluten free than other baking to avoid cross contamination. Even small amounts can make a celiac suffer severe reactions for days. Since those in your family who are not gluten intolerant will enjoy 'made with' Astoria Mills Mixes, meals, breads, pizza and baked goods just as much as wheat ones, we suggest making it easy on yourself, save time and prepare only gluten free. Once you get used to Astoria Mills mixes you may find that the cost factor is not that prohibitive and the time you save worth a bit extra. Besides, everyone can benefit from the extra nutritional elements in Astoria Mills mixes.
- Do I need a bread maker or any other special equipment to make Astoria Mills gluten free bread or pizza mixes.
No, Astoria Mills Bread Mixes are easy to make. You can use a bread maker for mixes if you like, but it is easier and faster to make by hand. All you need for our breads is a whisk, a spoon and a couple of bowls plus something to bake on and in. For other baked goods an electric mixer is sometimes useful.
For baking small quantities a toaster oven is useful so you don't have to heat up a large oven to bake 1 or two rolls for instance. Other than that, normal baking equipment is all you need. I have taken bread mixes camping and made camp bread in a skillet.
You could also take dry mixes of breads or pizza with you on a trip. Either give a package to your hosts or mix up a little in a bowl and take it with you to be baked on site.
- Why do Astoria Mills gluten free flour blends ( #1,#2, #3) not contain Xanthan or Guar gum in the mixes.
It has been our experience in testing gluten free baking that different baked goods require different amounts of Xanthan gum or guar gum than others and some don't require it at all. For instance our muffin recipes don't require any xanthan gum, so why add it when it is not needed. Pies and pastry need very little, any more than a pinch in pie crust and it will be very soft and not stay together, while pasta requires more in order to work. Only our pizza and bread mixes contain xanthan gum as they are complete mixes rather than flour blends. (with those, all you need to add are liquids)
- What about salt and sugar in mixes?
Astoria Mills gluten free flour blends do not contain any added salt or sugar. Breads and Pizza mixes are salt and sugar reduced. The organic cane sugar included in the bread and pizza mixes is for feeding the yeast only. In fact with a longer proofing period, sugars are further broken down and breads can take on the low glycemic characteristics of sourdough breads.
- Are Astoria Mills mixes non-GMO and organic?
Most ingredients in Astoria Mills mixes are sourced from organic sources, however they are not certified organic as this would raise the costs considerably. We have taken great care to avoid GMO ingredients and the cornstarch used in AM mixes is non-GMO, and the Hi-maize (R) resistant starch is non-GMO. Aztec Harvest Blend is corn, rice and white potato free for those with added sensitivities. Our brown and white breads, Mixes #6 and #7 are rice free for those who also have sensitivities to rice.
- Are Astoria Mills Flour Blends a Cup for cup substitution for regular wheat flours in traditional recipes?
In our test kitchens we have found Astoria Mills flour mixes can be substituted easily by cooks who are experienced with gluten free cooking and baking. However, gluten free cooking and baking is different. Like most other things, give yourself a little practice. When you receive your mixes, try a small recipe or two for the first few times. For someone new, we have tested recipes so you won't have to figure things out and perhaps waste food because it did not taste or turn out the way you wanted. Just follow the recipes. With 100's of tested Astoria Mills recipes in our easy to download e-Cookbooks you are all set! More are being created all the time. We have also found that many traditional recipes require a bit of tweaking at the best of times, the addition of other ingredients that help substitute for gluten. For instance eggs, or egg substitutes might be required to 'hold' something together where the gluten would normally hold it together. Or xanthan or guar gum also mimic some of the attributes of gluten. Best to start with our proven recipes first, find something similar to what you want to make and go from there. If you need help with an unusual recipe, feel free to email Trina for help. She loves to help people and often will do some tests and even develop a new recipe.
- All Purpose Flour -Mix #1 and Pastry Flour - Mix #2 seem to have identical ingredients. What is the difference?
Both contain Rice flour of different kinds which behave differently in baking and cooking.
- Why does Astoria Mills use white rice as opposed to brown rice in some of its mixes?
The white rice we use is very finely ground so as not to be gritty. We do not use brown rice, because brown rice often contains a mold which can be harmful to those suffering from Candida. Aztec Harvest Blend Mix #4 contains more whole grain nutrition than brown rice and can also be used to make yeast free breads for those intolerant to yeast.
- When I feel the texture of some Astoria Mills flours they seem to have a slight gritty feel but after cooking and baking it is gone, what is that?
That slight grittiness is from the Hi-maize (R) resistant starch which is included in Astoria Mills gluten free mixes. Hi-maize (R) dissolves and has only a smooth mouth feel, no grittiness, once baked.
- Why don't you have separate mixes for cakes, pancakes, muffins and cookies ?
Often separate mixes for pancakes, muffins etc. only have a couple of commonly found added ingredients, like baking powder, we know you can get gluten free baking powder! We want you to be able to make as many different things as possible. All you need are 7 mixes and you can enjoy all the foods you loved again! Also, as so many people have different food sensitivities, we wanted to keep these blends as easy as possible for more people to enjoy 'free from' foods. Astoria Mills gluten free baking system is a scratch baking system except for breads which take more skill and precision in gf. So we have provided these in ready to use mixes, all you do is add liquids.
Astoria Mills gluten free mixes are designed for easy use in home kitchens yet with all the taste and performance needed by professional chefs and bakers. We are always happy to help you achieve the best results using our blends.
Please feel free to email if you have any questions not answered here. We will be happy to help you.