This is one reason why I'm cheered that my small strawberry patch -- planted just a few years ago from a single Rainier plant at PCC (Puget Sound Consumer's Co-op) now boasts strawberries from plants rooting in several different spots (they send out runners). And, as the plants have grown larger, the berries are now higher off the ground -- so the slugs don't get them!
But I digress. What do strawberries and dinners with neighbors have to do with gluten in whipped cream, you may ask?
Well. I trotted over to my neighbors with a nice bowl of cut strawberries, and brought over a carton of heavy whipping cream that I'd just purchased, a small bottle of vanilla, a bowl, and a wire whip. Don't you just love freshly whipped cream on strawberries?
And, as it turned out, the whole process of whipping cream from scratch was new to my neighbor! The funny thing is, my neighbor kept asking, "How is this cream different from regular cream? Why does this cream turn in to whipping cream and regular cream doesn't?"
I had to admit that I didn't really know. However, I also happened to glance quickly at the side of the whipped cream carton, where it listed "Ingredients," expecting only to see cream. Instead, I saw "mono and di-glyercides." Mono and di-glyercides?! My old enemy! The reason I can't eat many different brands of ice cream!
So, I'm going to investigate this tomorrow; I mean, are the mono and di-glyercides the reason that the cream turns into whipped cream? Well, I don't think so, because Sunshine brand heavy whipping cream, which I bought at Trader Joe's, doesn't list these (whatever they are). More later . . . .
Update, several months later (April 29, 2012) Just bought whipping cream -- Darigold brand -- and I note that the carton says "Gluten free product." Yeah, because I'd already used it (on a gluten free apple pie that my boyfriend baked for me!) several times. The big news, however, is that although a label is obscuring many of the ingredients, it looks like it includes carrageenan and mono and di-glycerides, my old frenemy.
Now, what is carrageenan? According to a 2004 fact sheet provided by Eden Foods, it is a "natural polysaccharide (carbohydrate) extracted from red seaweed." Commonly, I believe it is a thickener. The idea, I'll bet, is that when enough air is whipped into the cream, the mono and di-glyercides and carrageenan cause the cream to become thicker and hold its shape. Eden Foods included an interesting note about carrageenan on its website on April 27, 2012; apparently, there is new information coming out and Eden will be updating visitors to its site. An article on Wisegeek (click here) goes into more detail about carrageenan and is worth a read.
Next, consider Reddi-Wip.(Until I visited the website to wrote this, I always thought it was spelled "Reddi-Whip!") Virtually every refrigerator in America probably has a can of Reddi-Wip marinating someone in the depths of the side door!
The website (visited on September 7, 2017) is very spiffy: simple, with bright colors -- yet, what's the deal? I can't find any allergy info beyond a replication of a "Nutritional Facts" label" with this rather obtuse statement at the bottom
"Product formulations and packaging may change. For the most current information regarding a particular product, please refer to the product package."
In fact, just a few weeks ago we were at a friend's birthday party, and my opinion was sought as to the strawberries and how to dress them up quickly. Whipped cream and brown sugar, I suggested, searching for a bowl and a whisk so that I could start whipping. Alas, no real whipped cream resided in the home -- just the erstwhile can of Reddi-Wip. I've never been sure of the ingredients, so I passed.
Hmmmm . . . I will e-mail the company and see what the story is.
September 10, 2017: Update! Reply from Conagra (producers of Reddi-Wip) received today, and it looks like Reddi-Wip is, in fact, gluten free, and says so on the label.
The customer service rep, in fact, provided me with a list of other Conagra foods that have been verified as gluten free and labelled as such. The customer service rep did not say that they had been manufactured in certified gluten free facilities.
That list follows, below, and the email I received noted:
"We always advise consumers who may have sensitivities to recheck the ingredient list on each package. Products are oftentimes reformulated, and the ingredients may change. If you have additional questions about your personal dietary needs, please consult your doctor or a registered dietitian."
The list, here:
The following brands are validated as gluten-free with gluten-free printed on their labels:
Hunt's Tomatoes, Hunt's No Salt Added Tomato Sauce and No Salt Added Paste (excluding Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes 2700037800, Tomato Sauces, Tomato Paste, No Salt Added Resealable Tomato Sauce, Pasta Sauces and Ketchup)
Swiss Miss Cocoa
Healthy Choice Café Steamers: Cajun Style Chicken & Shrimp (7265500112), Café Steamers Beef Merlot (7265500102) and Café Steamers Homestyle Chicken & Potatoes (7265500118)
Popcorn: Act II microwave; Orville Redenbacher Popping Corn (kernels), microwave
Pudding: Swiss Miss & Snack Pack Pudding and Juicy Gels, excludes those containing Tapioca
Poppycock - Pecan Delight, Original, Cashew
Crunch N Munch: Caramel, Buttery Toffee
Fiddle Faddle: Caramel, Buttery Toffee
Hebrew National: regular franks, reduced fat franks, bologna, lean bologna, salami, lean salami, corned beef, pastrami
Peter Pan Peanut Butter: all varieties
Tablespreads (tubs): Parkay, Blue Bonnet, Fleischmann's and Move Over Butter
Tablespreads (sticks): Parkay Blue Bonnet, Fleischmann’s
La Choy Original Sauce Marinade (4430012068) and La Choy Orange Ginger Sauce Marinade (4430012067)
La Choy Soy Sauce (Regular & Lite)
La Choy Sweet & Sour Sauce
Reddi-Wip: all varieties
David Seeds: all varieties