Eating Gluten Free – Is Mustard Okay?
Is mustard gluten free? In its raw seed form, yes, but when mixed with prepared mustard paste, flour, beer or malt vinegar is sometimes added. This is a “read the label every time” product, but if the ingredient list doesn’t include flour, beer, or malt vinegar, go ahead and enjoy it.
Commercial mustard comes in many forms, from raw seeds to powdered mustard flour, to rich creamy or oily spreads that go well with roast meat and sandwiches.
Mustard seeds are tiny, round seeds – about 2mm or less than an eighth of an inch in diameter. The color of the seeds varies from almost white to black. These seeds are naturally gluten-free and their size is very different from any cereal containing gluten. When the seeds are separated from the pods and stems, a sieve with very small holes will also separate any voluntary seeds that contain gluten. Most mustard seeds exported commercially come from Canada, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
Mustard seeds are mixed with water, vinegar, oils, and other spices and flavorings to make prepared mustard paste spreads. Depending on the type of seed and processing traditions, the end product varies from white to bright yellow to black. The seeds can be ground into a fine powder or left whole. Prepared mustards can be thick or quite thin.
Dry mustard, mustard flour or mustard powder are very finely ground mustard seeds. It has a flour-like texture but it does not contain wheat flour. Mustard powder is often added as an ingredient in other commercially prepared foods as a flavoring agent.
Wheat flour is sometimes added to prepared mustards to adjust the texture, taste and cost of the product. If wheat flour is added, it must be on the ingredient list. Beer is sometimes added to specialty mustard, making the product not gluten-free, it must also be included on the label. Malt vinegar does not appear to be used in commercial prepared mustards, but it often appears in homemade mustard recipes. If so, the mustard will not be gluten-free.
In summary, mustard has a very low risk of cross-contamination during planting and harvesting. A few commercial prepared mustards use flour or beer as an ingredient. Homemade mustard can use beer or malt vinegar. Don’t worry about mustard powder or seeds used as an ingredient in other condiments like mayonnaise or salad dressing.