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Posts Tagged ‘ingredient’

  1. Ingredient Spotlight: Marukan rice vinegar (DON’T USE)

    August 3, 2016 by Dan

    Update: June 8, 2017 – We no longer recommend. Do not use! Marukan Rice Vinegar appears to no longer be gluten-free.

    Our son recently had allergic reactions and over the past few months we were able to narrow it down to the rice vinegar we used. More details to come. 


    We generally rely on Marukan rice vinegar whenever a recipe calls for ‘vinegar.’ Rice vinegar is more mild and less sharp than white vinegar, but is still an excellent substitute.

    Bottle of Marukan Rice VinegarUnfortunately, most white vinegar sold in stores is made from generic “grain,” which is problematic when avoiding gluten like we must. This is because wheat and barley are the two grains grown most in the US. Both contain the gluten protein that causes allergic reactions in our son and celiac disease in other people.

    As with other ingredients we use, we started the process of selecting Marukan rice vinegar by reading the ingredients label: water and rice. Then we contacted the company directly and asked about the facility in which it makes and bottles the rice vinegar, its hygiene practices, and the steps it takes to prevent cross-contamination. Once satisfied, we used the Marukan rice vinegar in a dish that we then introduced slowly to Sprout.


    Use in any recipe that calls for generic vinegar. You can also substitute rice vinegar in place of lemon juice where it makes sense in a recipe. For example, I use rice vinegar in place of lemon juice for roast chicken when I don’t have lemons.


    We recommend storing rice vinegar in the refrigerator because we’ve had a bottle go bad at least once. It isn’t likely when the bottle is emptied quickly, but there are times where we might go months without using rice vinegar in a recipe.

    Where to buy

    We buy Marukan rice vinegar at Asian markets around Los Angeles. I do see it in some of the local Ralph’s and Whole Foods. If you don’t see any in your local supermarket ask the manager to stock some for you. Larger chains like Kroger (it owns Ralph’s) may already have Marukan rice vinegar available in their distribution networks due to its availability in my local California markets. We were also able to find some in Saipan, which may say something about either it’s broad reach in the Pacific rim or overall market saturation.

    Note that some stores may stock only a seasoned rice vinegar used for sushi and other Japanese vittles. Trust me, the seasoned rice vinegar doesn’t substitute well although it makes excellent sushi. In case you’re wondering, yes we tested Marukan Seasoned Rice Vinegar, determined it safe for our Sprout, and now use it in foods we prepare for him.

    Bottles of Marukan Seasoned Rice Vinegar on the left, and Marukan (Plain) Rice Vinegar on the right

  2. Ingredient Spotlight: Rancho Gordo beans

    May 22, 2016 by Dan

    We’d like to highlight beans from Rancho Gordo

    IMG_20150301_153007In our experience it’s difficult to come by beans (and other legumes) that aren’t cross-contaminated with gluten. The same equipment is generally used to process and store legumes and grains up and down the production and distribution chain. This requires us to buy directly from growers or smaller distributors that have a reputation as not having gluten cross-contamination. Rancho Gordo fits into the latter category.

    Rancho Gordo sells a variety of high quality, gourmet, heirloom beans it sources from farmers across the US and Mexico. These aren’t cheap at $6 a pound (about two dried cups worth) but the peace of mind preparing from a source we’ve vetted and quality level make them worth the cost. If you like to eat well, these beans are for you.

    Here are a few varieties we heavily rely upon and that I don’t think you can go wrong using.

    Yellow Eyed Peas – These are equivalent to, and can be substituted in any recipe that calls for black eyed peas. These are so good that I take a bag or two of yellow eyed peas when we travel with Sprout.


    My most common use is to put the following in a slow cooker on low: one cup yellow eyed peas, three cups water, and an onion. They’re soft and creamy in eight hours. Yum! I also drop a handful into soups that I would otherwise put in peanuts or where these just seem to fit the bill.


    Rio Zape – A rich, flavorful bean that can be used in any recipe that calls for pintos and in place of kidney beans in chili.


    Royal Corona Beans – Gigantic white runner beans that can be used in any recipe that calls for cassoulet or gigante beans. They take about 12 hours in my slow cooker to become creamy. Our best luck has been with a 1-2 lb chunk of stewing meat like pork shoulder or beef chuck.

    Are they gluten free?

    Note that Rancho Gordo doesn’t guarantee that its products won’t be cross-contaminated. From its FAQ:

    Are your beans gluten free?

    All of our products (which are indigenous to the Americas) are naturally gluten free. You can enjoy them with a reckless abandon. We make no special efforts, however, to keep things gluten free and it’s possible that there can be some cross-contact in the fields and cleaning facilities. Dried beans need to be rinsed (and well!) so any potential danger should go right down the sink.

    Unlike legumes from other sources, we — knock on wood — haven’t had any issues to-date. This may be due to luck but I think may stem from fewer parties handling the beans in the distribution chain. Rancho Gordo appears to work directly with farmers without middlemen. It could be the long and winding distribution chain (with greater chance of cross-contamination) that has caused us problems in the past. Either way, we do rinse beans twice before using.

    Where to buy

    Prices are generally best when buying directly from Rancho Gordo via its website — — or at its store front in the San Francisco Ferry Building (when we’re there). Right now, it offers free shipping over $75, which really isn’t hard to do. Its website has a store locator with local distributors if you want to try some beans first before dropping $75+. The list isn’t complete as I recently purchased beans from a Whole Foods in south Denver that isn’t listed. The price was still $6 per bag.

    And because these are heirloom varieties you can use some of the beans to seed plants in your garden to harvest yourself. It’s a great project for kids. Sprout had fun growing his own food and took on an added appreciation for farm work.