Why isn't scrapple naturally gluten-free? Let's look at the typical scrapple ingredients:
- Pork Skins
- Pork Livers
- Pork Fat
- Pork Hearts
Mmm, sounds delicious, and completely gluten free! Come one, come all, my celiac friends, and dig in to some scrapple!
Wait, not so fast! That's not everything!
Oh right. Scrapple isn't just pork scraps.
Let's have a quick rundown on the basics of how scrapple is made:
First you choose your pork source and boil it all up. When it's nice and tender, you drain the (now) pork stock from the meat. That meat gets finely chopped and then recombined with some of that stock. At that point you need to start adding some kind of grain to get the mixture to thicken and stick together so it can cool into a nice brick of slicable meat.
Aah, grain! So now I see where the gluten issue is.
Back in the day, (like, way way back in the day) scrapple recipes mostly called for buckwheat to be used as a thickening agent. Buckwheat, despite its name, is not actually a wheat and is naturally gluten-free.
Nowadays, most scrapple makers have moved away from buckwheat and use a combination of cornmeal and wheat flour as thickeners. Cornmeal tends to be gluten-free (though it depends on the facility where it is processed). Wheat flour, unfortunately, is all about gluten.
This use of wheat flour is true for even the most gluten-conscious of meat companies. Many companies pride themselves in safely making gluten-free meats and meat products. But when you check their scrapple ingredients list, you will consistently find wheat flour.
I personally don't mind because my gut can process gluten. But there are a growing number of scrapple lovers out there who are finding out they cannot eat it due to the wheat flour. So what are they to do?!
So far, there are only two answers I've found for the celiac scrapple lovers:
- Make it yourself.
- Find the rare scrapple manufacturer who doesn't use wheat flour.
Honestly, neither of these options are super easy. Googling around for gluten-free scrapple recipes mostly yields results of other people searching for gluten-free scrapple recipes. It's a vicious cycle.
But all is not lost!
For example, Dian Eblin -- a "professional recipe devloper" -- has a very detailed post on what sounds like a delicious recipe for gluten-free scrapple.
But if you don't want to make it yourself, there are options on the horizon. The folks over at West Cost Scrapple -- who already make and sell a delicious offal-free scrapple -- are mastering their production of a gluten-free version of scrapple. I was told West Coast Scrapple recently received approval from the Oregon Department of Agriculture to process and sell their gluten-free variety. I imagine we will see that available online soon. (Update: Says Mike of WSC- We have come up with a recipe we like for the gluten-free version. We are planning on unveiling it in May at the Beaverton Farmers Market, however, we have had enough interest that we may do it sooner online. Since we do not produce in a gluten-free kitchen, the best we can say is that our scrapple is "wheat free". The contamination risk is quite low but we need to be careful.)
Are you a gluten-free scrapple lover? Do you have your own gluten-free recipe? Or have you found a reliable manufacturer of gluten-free scrapple? Tell us in the comments!
Photo wheat flour by artizone via Flickr and Creative Commons.