Is Prosecco gluten free and vegan?

I am developing our spring and summer cake ranges at the moment. After the success of our gin and tonic cakes, it seemed like a good idea to try another favourite drink in cake form. Prosecco is a delicious and much-loved Italian white wine, which seems perfect for a spring cake.

Let’s start with the good news. Is Prosecco gluten free? I would never say that all Prosecco is 100% gluten free, but I think it is fair to say, it is pretty much gluten free. Obviously, wines aren’t fermented from gluten-containing ingredients, like beer or whisky are, but there are possible sources of gluten contamination. For example, some wine barrels are sealed with a gluten-containing paste. It is possible that this gluten could contaminate the wine inside. However, Prosecco is produced using the Charmat-Martinotti method, which uses steel tanks, rather than casks or fermenting in the bottle. This means Prosecco is cheaper to produce, and removes the potential gluten source of the cask sealant. Hooray!

Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

Is Prosecco vegan? Maybe. The Charmat-Matinotti method requires clarification of the Prosecco, after the second fermentation. This process is called fining. A fining agent is added to the wine to bond with suspended particles, such as grape fragments, and even soluble substances, such as tannins. Some fining agents are of animal origin: egg whites, casein from milk, gelatin, and isinglass from the swim bladders of fish (as an aside, how did anyone discover this? “Well, Gianni, we’ve tried tiger spleen and armadillo kidney, but it’s not clarifying the wine. Let’s give it one last go with a goldfish swim bladder and see what happens.”) Wines made using animal-origin fining agents may be a concern to vegans. The good news is that there are non-animal alternatives made from minerals, for example bentonite clay or activated charcoal. The only way to know is to check the brand of Prosecco you are buying. Luckily, the fantastic website, Barnivore, has already done the hard work for you. You can be sure that we will check the brands we use to make sure that they are vegan.

Is Prosecco gluten free and vegan? Very probably, and maybe!

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One month on…

Wow!  It has been a busy month here at Allergy Towers.  I have been jumping through hoops, like an overexcited collie in an agility competition.  I am really pleased to say that I passed my Level 2 in Food Hygiene and Handling.  We also passed our Food Standards Agency inspection, and got the top grade (5, very good).

20180622_105948We have been testing lots of vegan, gluten free cakes, including a gin cake with tonic icing that I felt the need to test extensively.  Our testing panel have been generous with their time and taste buds, and supportive.  Yesterday, we delivered our first batch to Cornflower Wholefoods, Brightlingsea, Essex, UK.  I don’t know how well the cakes will sell, but we are going to give it our best shot.

The next stage will be about fulfilling our whole purpose.  We’ll be looking at developing relationships with local organisations so we can offer work-related learning to autistic young people.

It’s all really exciting, bit scary, but I am looking forward to seeing what happens over the next few months…

 

 

Is Gin & Tonic Vegan and Gluten Free?

I don’t know about you, but, in these troubling times, I find comfort in the minutiae of life.  There’s nothing like disappearing down a rabbit hole of information to escape reality.

At the moment, my mind is often preoccupied with thinking about new recipes for The Allergy Brothers Cakes.  I am wondering if it is possible to make a vegan and gluten free gin and tonic cake…  Not for the Allergy Brothers themselves, they are a bit young! Maybe for all the parents contemplating the school summer holidays?  The obvious first question is “is gin and tonic vegan and gluten free?”

Gin is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, “a clear alcoholic spirit distilled from grain or malt and flavoured with juniper berries”.  Grain and malt doesn’t sound very gluten free.  However, as the gluten proteins are removed during the distillation process, all spirits, unless a gluten-containing ingredient is added after distillation, are gluten free.  However, some very, very sensitive individuals might react to gin distilled from grain and malt.  In the UK, Chase’s gin is made from an apple base, and not grain.  However, gin is gluten free enough to get a thumbs up from the Coeliac UK website so I feel confident with sticking with my old favourite, Bombay Sapphire.

Bombay Sapphire is gluten free, but is it vegan?  Luckily, there is a fantastic website called Barnivore that allows you to check whether specific alcoholic drinks are vegan.  Bombay Sapphire is marked as vegan friendly.  A very few gins are not because gelatin is used to remove impurities in the filtration process, because honey is added as a flavouring, or because beeswax is used to seal the casks.

Now to check the tonic water!  Tonic water is just carbonated water with quinine and flavourings and sweeteners added.  It should be naturally gluten free.  It should also be vegan.  However, some vegans are concerned that some tonic waters, particularly American brands, contain High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Some vegan writers felt that this was just a bad product to consume, and were concerned about the level of pollution caused by mass corn production.  I am planning on using Fever Tree tonic water, which is made from Natural Quinine, Cane Sugar, Spring Water, Citric Acid, and Natural Flavours, so my recipe will be HFCS free.

Phew!  Gin and tonic is vegan and gluten free!  I think I might have a glass to celebrate.  Purely, for research, of course.

Happy Birthday, Allergy Wizard!

I am really very bad at cake decorating so my heart sunk when Allergy Wizard asked for a Harry Potter birthday cake.  Then I googled Harry Potter cakes and I was both impressed and even more discouraged.  I mean, look at these cakes.  It’s not cake decorating; it’s sugar sculpture.  These cakes are art!

So thank goodness for Hagrid and his wonky, misspelt birthday cake in the first film.  Something vaguely attainable, except Allergy Wizard doesn’t like buttercream and the green writing icing had an allergen in so I had to use blue.  The birthday boy was happy though and that is the only thing that matters!  Happy Birthday, Allergy Wizard.

Chuffed about Chufa milk? (DF,GF)

We have a problem here at Allergy Towers.  Both the Allergy Brothers do cooking at school.  In fact, Allergy Wizard’s class cook every week and have now progressed to the stage that they make a two course cooked lunch for themselves once a week.  I think this is fantastic.  It can be difficult juggling ingredients though.  The biggest problem we have is dairy-based recipes.  The Allergy Brothers are allergic to dairy, soya, coconut and rice.  At home, this isn’t a problem as we use almond milk.  Unfortunately, there are children in their class with severe nut allergies so they can’t use any nut-based milks at school.  This has rather left us scratching our heads.  Chufa milk (AKA tiger nut milk) seemed to be the answer.  Despite its tiger nut nickname, Chufa is a tuber, not a nut, and so shouldn’t trigger a nut allergy.  However, it can trigger an allergic reaction in people, who have pollen or grass allergies.

We decided to try this new ingredient at home, and the boys were keen to make a mango smoothie.

Ingredients

As much mango as you can be bothered to cut up from a fresh mango

Chufa milk (enough to overfill the blender so it runs all over the counter)

Maple syrup (as much as you can bung in before killjoy Mum notices)

Method

  1. Cut up the mango while your Mum tries not to fret and fuss about the big knife.20180416_172829
  2. Bung the mango in the blender with too much Chufa milk and sneak in some maple syrup.20180416_173012
  3. That’s it.

Allergy Wizard tried their smoothie first, and within a minute or so began to have an allergic reaction.  HIs mouth felt “spiky” and he began coughing and finding it hard to breathe.  Thank goodness, this stopped very quickly after he had some anti-histamine.  But clearly, not a non-dairy solution for Allergy Wizard.

Amazingly, Allergy Plant was happy to try the smoothie after his brother’s reaction, he really enjoyed it.  He also finished off the rest of the Chufa milk carton the next day.  Chufa milk tastes nutty; the closest thing I could compare it to is macadamia nut milk.  If it wasn’t for Allergy Wizard’s allergic reaction, we would have been very chuffed about Chufa milk.

We bought our milk from Planet Organic.  Here is an affiliate link to the Ecomil Chufa milk; they also sell the raw Chufa for snacking, putting in salads, baking etc.