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Making white sauce gluten-free: what do I sub for the wheat flour?

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to accommodate a friend with a gluten-free diet, I would like to know what starch to use in place of the wheat flour. Rice flour? Corn starch? I've looked elsewhere on the web and the results are mixed (and I am not looking for a new recipe, btw). I trust the 'hounds here more than I do some random blogger. Also, would any substitute still be the same ratio (I.e. Same amount of substitute starch as flour?). Thanks!

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  1. I have celiac disease and use sorghum or sweet rice flour (very close to the same amount). Just a quick caution - if your friend is celiac, cross contamination in a non gluten-free kitchen is very difficult to prevent. In fact, most with celiac I know will not eat anything that comes from a gluten-y kitchen. Not to be cruel but just to be safe. Having said that, you may be very knowledgable in which case your friend is very lucky.

    You are very thoughtful in trying to accommodate your friend!

    2 Replies
    1. re: chefathome

      Excellent advice. I cook for a celiac patient and, because I am not afflicted myself, do not have a gluten free kitchen. Ensuring that the food I prepare for her are not contaminated with gluten is a tremendous responsibility and a great challenge. While I agree that a sweet rice flour or sorghum will work for your white sauce, I would personally use corn starch (because I find it easier to develop a smoother sauce using that) but you can be the judge of what works best for you.

      1. re: todao

        We have 5 celiacs in the family, and I use corn starch when making gravy. I, too, don't have a GF kitchen, so have to be really careful. I hosted TG dinner - I cooked two turkeys, made regular and GF gravy. I also made "regular" bread stuffing GF bread stuffing.
        Served GF and regular rolls. I was really careful, and all went smoothly. Am hosting a luncheon next Saturday, and will make a potato and a chicken salad that everyone can eat. chefathome is absolutely correct, imperative not to have any cross contamination.

    2. Thank you both! She has eaten at my house (not a gluten-free home, I am afraid), without suffering any Ill effects. I do not think she is a true celiac, but she is sensitive to it.

      1. Arrowroot is also a non-gluten thickener. So is tapioca.

        Arrowroot can sometimes have potato starch added to it, but added potato starch will not change it's non-gluten status. Just remember to read the label.

        2 Replies
        1. re: DiningDiva

          Yes, I've also heard that arrowroot is good
          Mix 2 tsp arrowroot with 2 tsp water and slowly add to sauce until it's thick enough

          1. re: treestonerivershrub

            But is it ok for a cream sauce? I've read that arrowroot makes dairy sauces slimy. Cornstarch and milk (plus sugar) makes pudding; as does pearl tapioca.

        2. not sure what you're making, but you could do just a butter, cream, grated parm sauce too and avoid the roux issue entirely.

          18 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I would love to do something like that with Marcella's Cauliflower with cheese sauce but thinking ithe sauce might not thicken and brown as it should in the oven.

            1. re: lilgi

              enough cheese and butter and it will bind. both of those ingredients brown very well in a hot oven. i'd give it a shot.

              have never really been a fan of roux-based sauces, so i rarely use them.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                If it turns out good I'll be in trouble; 1 stick of butter for one head of cauliflower (not to mention the milk and cheese) and it's gone in a matter of minutes but I'll give it a shot :)

                eta: should be okay, forgot it's only 1/2 stick of butter. Thought it would be a good idea since I'll be going on Atkins again but just remembered no cailiflower - might try will broccoli but won't be the same.

                1. re: lilgi

                  Lilgi...why no cauliflower? I'm sure there is a good reason, just have never heard that prohibition before.

                  1. re: Nanzi

                    On Atkins no white vegetables during induction but you can let them slide in later on in restricted quantities.

                    1. re: lilgi

                      cauliflower is allowed during atkins induction.

                      http://www.atkins.com/Program/Phase-1...

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        You are officially my hero :) I've been doing this one for years and I don't ever remember seeing it on the list - and read to stay away from the whites. Thanks for posting that.

                        1. re: lilgi

                          the faux-mashed potatoes made with cauliflower save many from falling off the atkins wagon in the beginning, lol.

                          you need to avoid starchy white stuff, hard squashes and root veggies. still leaves over 50 acceptable veggies.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            I've read that list many times and DO NOT remember that vegetable being on induction. I cannot tell you how happy I'll be to be eating the faux mashed potatoes ;) A very grateful woman I am.

                            1. re: lilgi

                              glad to help! lol, it's really the only way i even like cauliflower. in fact, i like it sooooo very much that way i can eat an entire head at a sitting. needless to say, i don't make it often. ;)

              2. re: lilgi

                I make a cheese sauce with just heavy cream and cheese--no flour at all. Does just fine for the dish you're talking about.

                1. re: escondido123

                  It won't be the same unless it thickens like a breading while browning and roasting in the oven. I'm willing to give it a try but I'm not overly crazy about cheesy cream sauces in general with vegetables.

                  1. re: lilgi

                    I thought the OP was talking about a dish with a white sauce and felt this might be close to what s/he was looking for--not sure where the "breading" comes in.

                    1. re: escondido123

                      Escondido, the recipe that I mentioned to Hotoynoodle dries up in the oven like a breading because of the flour. It is not the same as what you are simply calling a cheese sauce. I might be able to come closer by using eggs.

                      Some recipes crash when you try to substitute, this might very well be one of them (for me).

                      1. re: lilgi

                        i looked up that hazan recipe and it is very stiff, with a very high flour-to-butter ratio. not something i would like, but i see now how it would set up differently than a cream-based sauce. sounds like a virtual helmet, lol.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          Yes that's exactly how it sets up, and because of the bottoms and cavities of the cauliflower you only get some of it on top so it doesn't overwhelm. It is delicious.

                        2. re: lilgi

                          I don't know the recipe so did the best I could. I didn't realize that was the recipe the OP was posting about. Thanks for the update.

                          1. re: escondido123

                            I'm the OP and I'm NOT asking about a recipe, only for a substitution in a regular, boring white sauce. lilgi is referring to something else (a cauliflower recipe)--one of those tangents that CH threads often (enjoyably!) go on.

              3. Has anyone worked with water chesnut powder? Is it even available in North American?

                1 Reply
                1. re: shallots

                  It is available in in North America

                2. Also, what about kuzu powder?

                  See below link for more info on that

                  http://www.mitoku.com/products/kuzu/c...

                  1. I'd like to thank everyone for their suggestions. I went with the cornstarch sub and it worked fine (used a little less CS than flour). Anyway, your help is much appreciated!