It may come as a surprise that gluten intolerant people can’t automatically assume nuts are gluten-free. As nuts are generally regarded as a healthy food choice, and are gluten-free if not processed, it is a reasonable assumption. Unfortunately this assumption is flawed as nuts often suffer cross-contamination as they are processed on lines shared with wheat or gluten products. It is also remarkably difficult to find packaged nuts marked with g-f accreditation or even labelled gluten-free.
One of the exceptions is an Australian brand, Real Good Food, who produce an organic chocolate mix, a selection of almonds, sultanas, chocolate, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Not only is this delicious, it carries the Australian g-f logo. Unless you don’t want chocolate with your nuts, what’s not to like?
Normally when checking a new product, I first look for any sign of any of the gluten free logos. Where those appear they definitely make things much easier. In the absence of a logo, the next port of call is the list of ingredients on the back of a package. Where they include gluten the packet goes back on the shelf. A third group are those where gluten doesn’t appear either on the ingredients or cautions list. In most cases, I will check the company website to see what they are prepared to say publicly the about gluten in their products.
Although the German company Seeberger do not specifically label their products as gluten free, their website notes that all their nuts (apart from their wasabi-macadamia and Japan Mixes, which contain flour and sesame seeds that have cross-contamination issues) are gluten free. This means such staples as their Luxury Nut Mix, a concoction of Hazelnuts, cashews, blanched almonds and shelled walnuts aren’t compromised by the company’s methods of handling them.
In England we usually opt for Waitrose’s organic pistachio nuts: whilst they aren’t specifically labeled g-f, they have never given us any problems. In Hong Kong we also look out for a company,Biofarm, whose range of nuts also aren’t problematic.
We recently tried an interesting mixed salted nut offering from London based, Quibbles, a melange of oven baked cashews, almonds, pecans and macadamias. Again their packets don’t carry a g-f logo of any sort and their website doesn’t provide any help understand whether they are safe or not. The allergy advice noted on the packaging mentions the nuts being processed alongside peanuts and other nuts and emphasises that their nuts are baked rather than fried: as they said they only use natural ingredients we took the risk. Unfortunately, this was one of those occasions where the risk didn’t pay off: we suffered a reaction so aren’t able to recommend them.
It is worth bearing in mind that, particularly in Asian food, nuts are often used as a garnish. If you have any concerns about this, you could ask whether it would be possible to hold the nuts or serve them separately if others in your party don’t might like them. If they are garnishes rather than an ingredient already incorporated into a dish, most commercial kitchens are happy to oblige.