Are Grits Gluten Free?

Grits are delicious and healthy grains and are very popular in the southern states of the USA. These versatile grains make a perfect substitute for oats as a warm breakfast porridge. They’re also great as a side dish or base for a savory lunch or dinner. But are gluten free? Let’s find out. 

Grits come from corn, and corn is naturally gluten-free. So, in their purest form, they are gluten-free. But some brands are processed in a factory where gluten products are also processed, meaning that cross-contamination can occur, and the grits can no longer be considered gluten-free. 

So, what does this mean for people who are very sensitive to gluten? We’re now going to look at this, as well as a few more interesting facts about grits. 

Are Grits Gluten Free?

Manufacturers often use the same equipment to process grits as other grains such as wheat, barley, or rye.

They do this because it is cheaper to use shared equipment, meaning the end product is also less expensive. 

Unfortunately, this means that the end-product is not truly gluten-free, as it may have too much cross-contamination. Sometimes, grits are even made of grains that are not gluten-free. 

How Do I Tell If Grits Are Gluten-Free

People with celiac disease or even some other types of gluten sensitivity need to be extremely careful when choosing a brand of grits. 

  • Always check the list of ingredients to ensure that the grits do not contain anything other than pure corn. 
  • To be safe, choose products that are certified as gluten-free. The product needs to have less than 0.002% gluten to be certified as gluten-free in the USA. 
  • Take note if you have any symptoms after eating grits, even the certified gluten-free brands because even the trace amount can cause a reaction in people with extreme gluten sensitivity. 
  • Chat to a dietician if you are concerned about the grits you’re eating. 

What Do Grits Taste Like?

Grits have a neutral or mild flavor. Their texture, when cooked, is thick and smooth. They tend to take on the taste of whatever food they’re being served with. Always add salt when cooking to bring out the flavor. 

Grits are delicious for a sweet breakfast porridge when served with cream, butter, and sugar. Cardamom and cinnamon are also great spices to add to the porridge. You can also serve them with fresh or dried fruit, nuts, syrups, and jams. 

Grits also make a great base for a savory breakfast – topped with bacon, eggs, scallions, cheese – the list goes on. 

For the main meal, grits can be cooked in milk, broth, or salted water. Cheese and butter are often added to grits. Season your grits with herbs, garlic, spices – pretty much anything that takes your fancy. 

Do Grits Go Bad?

The quick answer is yes – grits do go bad – eventually. 

Uncooked, grits can be stored for a long time – long after the manufacturer’s best before date, depending on the type of grits and the type of conditions under which they’re stored. 

Stone-ground grits will go off quicker than instant grits. Therefore, to extend their shelf life, you should store instant grits in a cool, dark, dry space. You should always keep your uncooked grits in an airtight container. 

You do not want any moisture to condense inside the package as this is how mold grows, which will spoil the grits. 

Always store cooked grits in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They can usually be stored in the fridge for up to a week. 

How To Tell If Your Grits Have Gone Bad 

You will notice whether grits have started to spoil in the taste and the smell. The color may also change. Mold is another sure sign that the grits have spoiled. 

For prepared grits, if the liquid has separated from the solids, you’ll know that they have started to spoil. 

Can You Freeze Grits?

Stone-ground grits have a higher nutritional value but a shorter life span than instant grits. So, freezing uncooked stone-ground grits is an excellent idea if you want to extend their shelf life. Instant grits have such a long shelf life that freezing usually isn’t necessary.  

Cooked grits can also be frozen, as long as you let them cool to room temperature before freezing. As always, store in an airtight container. 

Top tip: spray your storage container with non-stick spray to help remove easily from the container once frozen. 

How To Thicken Grits

Grits are meant to be thick and creamy. So, for the creamiest results, replace some or all of the water with cream or buttermilk. But what should you do if your grits are not thick and creamy? Don’t panic – there are a few solutions. 

As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure,” so make sure to cook your grits over medium-low heat. A high heat prevents the grits from bonding and thickening. 

Always use the correct ratio of grains to liquid (1 cup of grits to 4 cups of liquid). And make sure that you are cooking them for long enough – they may need a little extra time to come together. 

If the grits are still not coming together, you can add an egg or add an egg and some baking soda. This should improve the texture. Butter will also help the grits to be less runny. 

Another option is to strain the grits to remove some of the moisture – this should help reduce the liquid content and bring the grits together. 

Conclusion 

Grits are a nutritious and highly versatile grain that can be used for all sorts of dishes, including breakfast, main meals, and even desserts. 

If certified as gluten-free, they’re likely to be safe for anyone who has a gluten sensitivity or follows a gluten-free diet. Always remember to check the packaging carefully.

For people with severe gluten intolerances, consult with a dietician if you have any doubts about whether you can include them in your diet.