Tofu is perhaps the world’s most popular vegan substitute. It was one of the originals, and still holds its popularity today. In today’s article, we’re tackling a niche question about this popular coagulated concoction – is it gluten free?
Is Tofu Gluten Free?
The bottom line is that most of the time tofu is gluten free. But because there are so many varieties of tofu, this isn’t the case for every type of tofu, and for every brand of tofu.
As a result, celiacs will still have to watch themselves with gluten, and evaluate the product before they eat.
Next, we’ll examine which types of tofu are gluten free, and which are not, but let’s start with the basics:
What is Tofu?
Tofu is a food which is made by the process of coagulating soy milk, and then pressing the curds into “blocks”, which are sold as tofu.
Tofu is extremely popular in vegetarian and vegan diets. As a result, “tofu” has become a category of food unto itself. It is sold in many varieties and textures – with the most popular being different degrees of firmness. It is also available in different flavors and brands.
It has a mild taste, which is best known for its ability to absorb other flavors. This is perhaps what makes it such a versatile food. It works in all sorts of dishes, and has grown in popularity all over the world. In Western cuisine, it’s even used as a meat substitute in many dishes.
Tofu is quite a healthy food, and is known for its various nutritional benefits. It is low in calories and high in protein, with most tofu varieties containing roughly 8 grams of protein per serving.
When is Tofu Gluten Free?
As we mentioned above, most of the time tofu is gluten free. By most definitions of the term, plain tofu is naturally gluten free. This is because traditional tofu does not contain any ingredients which contain gluten.
Most of the time, tofu simply contains soy beans, water, and an agent for coagulation (which are typically salt, acid, or enzyme coagulants). It is only when other ingredients are added to the tofu that you might run into a problem, or the tofu is exposed to gluten at some point during the production process.
Check The Label
It might sound obvious, but our best piece of advice we can give you is to check the label! Look at the ingredients, and see if there are any ingredients which might contain gluten.
Gluten is typically found in wheat, barley, and rye. Of course, steer clear of these ingredients, but also check to see if the brand has specific “gluten-free” markings on the package. Gluten sensitivity is a common problem these days, and most reputable manufacturers will clearly mark on their product whether they comply.
When is Tofu Not Gluten Free?
Let’s take a look at specific varieties of tofu to avoid. Sometimes, it’s just as important to know what not to eat. Here are the situations where tofu cannot be considered gluten free:
One of the major ways that tofu can contain gluten is through cross-contamination. Foods are generally processed in facilities alongside other foods. Therefore, there is ample opportunity for foods to take on trace ingredients from other foods also. This is why certified “gluten-free” products often need to be made in gluten-free facilities.
Tofu can become cross-contaminated with gluten during the production and manufacturing stage, which is why it’s particularly important to stick to brands which are actually certified gluten-free. This is especially important if you have a particularly sensitive tolerance to gluten.
Certain varieties of tofu do actually contain gluten. Although gluten is not a recipe in traditional gluten, certain varieties, brands, and flavors do contain gluten in their formula. Perhaps the most common problem area comes from tofu which is flavored with another ingredient common to Asian cuisine – soy sauce. Soy sauce actually contains wheat, which makes it not suitable for celiacs.
Aside from that, avoid any flavors that utilize wheat, barley, or rye. And pay special attention to any tofu that isn’t certified “gluten-free”.
Thanks for reading through our guide to tofu. As you can see, while tofu itself is generally gluten-free, there are several reasons why certain brands and varieties may not be. As always, your best bet is to check the label. Look at the list of the ingredients, and also look for that certified “gluten-free” designation on everything you buy.