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.