When Joyce Shrock of Harrisville and four of her grown children were diagnosed with celiac disease in 2000: “We tried our first store-bought slice of gluten-free bread, and it was our last,” she said.
Shrock thought her family could come up with a better-tasting gluten-free product, so they started experimenting with different types of non-wheat flours and starches.
In 2007, they founded Grandpa’s Kitchen, producing gluten-free, lactose-free baking mixes so that people can make their own bread, rolls, pancakes, or pizza crust “off the wheaten path,” so to speak. The company is also a distributor for a gluten-free, lactose-free creamy soup base.
“Our products are now in all the major supermarkets from Cache Valley to St. George, except for Smith’s,” Shrock said.
“Gluten-free” is a term that’s become almost as popular as “low carb” was in the early 2000s. But for people who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, “gluten-free” isn’t a trendy diet. It’s critical to their health and well-being.
Gluten is a sticky protein in wheat, rye and barley. When someone with celiac disease eats even a bit of it, it triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients. Symptoms and problems can include stomachaches, vomiting, gas, bloating, weight loss or weight gain, migraines, dental enamel defects, skin rash and premature osteoporosis.
The only treatment is maintaining a gluten-free diet. But that’s not as easy as it sounds, since most breads and baked goods are made with flour from wheat.
The gluten in wheat flour gives batters and doughs elasticity so that it can hold together, form air bubbles, rise and have a moist crumb.
Although there are many gluten-free flours, none offer all of the qualities of wheat flour on their own. Many of the early gluten-free baked goods were crumbly, didn’t rise or had a weird taste or texture.
“Rice flour alone is very dry, so if you used it alone, the bread is crumbly, heavy and dry,” said Shrock’s daughter, Allyson Kauwe of Spanish Fork. “We use a blend of different flours and starches to duplicate the lightness and moisture that wheat flour has.”
The blend includes white and brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, cornstarch and sorghum flour. Xanthan gum is added to mimic the glue-y fiber of wheat gluten, which enables bread to rise, she said.
Shrock, Kauwe and another daughter, Christie Wente of Kaysville, demonstrated gluten-free Dutch oven cooking earlier this month at the Boat Show at South Towne Expo Center.
They passed around samples of a peach cobbler made with their baking mix, which was pretty close to the taste and texture of a wheat-flour dessert.
When working with gluten-free flour blends, it’s important not to overbeat the batter, Kauwe advised. Too much beating will pull moisture and lightness from the batter, yielding crumbly, tough results.
Joyce Shrock, daughters Kauwe and Wente, and a son, Rob Shrock, are the company owners. Another son, Steven Shrock, runs the distributing business.
They called their company Grandpa’s Kitchen because, years ago, Shrock’s father built an addition onto her house and lived there. This is the space they used when they began their business, and although Grandpa has passed on, everyone kept referring it as “Grandpa’s Kitchen.”
“We had to gut it and go through all the health code requirements,” observed Shrock. “And that’s not easy.”
They started by placing their product in Lee’s Marketplace in North Ogden. Over the years, they improved on their labeling and packaging.
“At first, it was in a dumb bag that broke if it was dropped on the floor,” Shrock said.
On the company website, www.grandpas-kitchen.com, the baking mixes cost $5 per package, which range from 12 ounces to 15 ounces. A 2-pound package of baking flour blend is $12.99, and the cookbook, “Grandpa’s Kitchen Gluten-Free Recipes Family Favorites,” is $14.99.
Retail prices vary depending on the store.
Valerie Phillips blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com.