Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause adverse health effects. As a result, these individuals need to follow a strict gluten-free diet and avoid foods containing gluten.
What is grape jelly?
Grape jelly is a sweet preserve made from grape juice, sugar, and sometimes pectin or citric acid. Traditional grape jelly uses Concord grapes, though other grape varieties can also be used. It has a smooth, thick texture and deep purple color.
Grape jelly is a popular spread for sandwiches, toast, biscuits, and more. In the United States, it’s one of the most commonly consumed jellies and jams.
Does grape jelly contain gluten?
Grape jelly itself does not naturally contain gluten. The main ingredients – grape juice, sugar, and pectin – are all gluten-free. However, there are a few things to watch out for when purchasing grape jelly:
- Cross-contamination: Even though grape jelly ingredients are gluten-free, cross-contamination can occur during manufacturing if the facility also processes wheat-based foods. Traces of gluten can get into the product.
- Maltodextrin: Some brands use maltodextrin as a thickener. Maltodextrin is usually made from corn, rice or potato starch, in which case it’s gluten-free. But if made from wheat, it contains gluten.
- Starch: Added starch may come from wheat. Check the source.
- Flavorings: Natural and artificial flavorings can sometimes contain gluten. Check the label.
Identifying gluten-free grape jelly
To make sure your grape jelly is 100% gluten-free, check the ingredient label carefully. Avoid products with ambiguous ingredients like “natural flavors” or “starch.” Instead, look for brands that specify exactly where each ingredient is sourced from.
There are a few telltale signs that identify gluten-free grape jelly:
- Made in a gluten-free facility: Jellies produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities ensure no cross-contamination occurs.
- Gluten-free certification: Labels like “Certified Gluten-Free” indicate independent testing for gluten.
- No grain-based ingredients: Gluten-free jellies avoid ingredients like wheat, barley, malt and rye.
Many major brands now offer grape jellies made without gluten for people with gluten intolerance. Checking the gluten-free designations on the label is an easy way to identify products that fit a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free brands of grape jelly
Here are some popular grape jelly brands that offer gluten-free options:
|Lab tested gluten-free
|Polaner All Fruit
There are also many store-brand, gluten-free grape jellies available at major grocery chains like Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods. Just check the label!
Making your own gluten-free grape jelly
Another option is to make homemade gluten-free grape jelly. This allows you to control all the ingredients and avoid potential cross-contamination issues. Making grape jelly from scratch takes some effort, but isn’t too difficult.
Here is a basic recipe and instructions:
- 4 cups Concord grape juice
- 1⁄4 cup lemon juice
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 pouch liquid pectin
- Sterilize canning jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes. Keep hot until ready to use.
- In a large saucepan, combine grape juice, lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
- Once boiling, stir in liquid pectin. Return to a full boil for 1 minute, continuing to stir.
- Remove from heat. Skim any foam from the top.
- Ladle hot jelly into sterilized jars, leaving 1⁄4 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean.
- Place lids on top and screw bands on tightly.
- Process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
- Check seals, then store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.
This homemade grape jelly contains just a few simple ingredients and avoids potential sources of gluten like maltodextrin, undefined starch or flavorings. Plus, you get total control over the production process.
Is grape jelly safe for celiac disease?
For those with celiac disease, even tiny amounts of gluten can cause issues. This means it’s essential to take extra precautions when selecting grape jelly.
Some things celiacs need to watch for include:
- Cross-contamination at manufacturing facilities: Many facilities process wheat and make equipment difficult to fully sanitize.
- Vague labels: Terms like “natural flavors”, modified food starch” or “spices” could indicate hidden gluten.
- Maltodextrin and other thickeners: These may come from wheat instead of corn or other gluten-free sources.
The highest assurance for celiacs comes from certified gluten-free products made in dedicated facilities. Homemade jellies using known ingredients are also very safe. Overall, grape jelly itself can definitely be part of a gluten-free diet as long as care is taken to find brands with transparent labeling and gluten-free manufacturing processes.
Gluten-free diets for celiac disease
For those with celiac disease, adopting a strict lifelong gluten-free diet is critical. Even tiny exposure to gluten can damage the small intestine and cause complications like malnutrition, anemia and osteoporosis over time.
Following a gluten-free diet requires vigilance, but thankfully more and more gluten-free products are available today. Here are some tips for following a gluten-free diet with celiac disease:
- Eliminate obvious gluten sources like bread, pasta, cereal, beer, etc.
- Watch out for hidden gluten in sauces, dressings, seasonings and more.
- Check labels closely and avoid anything with uncertain ingredients.
- Stick to naturally gluten-free whole foods like produce, meats, dairy, eggs, etc.
- Look for “gluten-free” on product labels for assurance.
- Cook more meals at home using confirmed gluten-free ingredients.
- Communicate with wait staff at restaurants about avoiding cross-contamination.
- Join a celiac disease support group for great gluten-free tips and recipes.
While challenging at first, adapting to a strict gluten-free lifestyle gets easier over time. Selecting verified gluten-free products like grape jelly can help add variety while staying safe.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity
In addition to celiac disease, some people have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This means gluten triggers uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue and headaches, but doesn’t cause damage to the small intestine.
People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten. But overall, following a gluten-free diet can improve symptoms significantly. This includes being selective about gluten-free grape jellies.
The good news is non-celiac gluten sensitivity is manageable by just reducing gluten intake overall. There is more flexibility compared to a celiac disease diet. Learning to spot hidden sources of gluten and become a expert label reader is key.
Gluten intolerance symptoms
Gluten intolerance can refer to either celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The symptoms of gluten intolerance may include:
- Digestive issues: Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, nausea.
- Fatigue and headaches
- Skin problems like rashes or dermatitis herpetiformis.
- Weight loss or anemia from malnutrition (more common in celiac disease)
- Joint pain and numbness or tingling in hands and feet
- Brain fog and anxiety
Symptoms may appear anytime from shortly after consuming gluten to several days later. Some people develop symptoms slowly over time, known as “gluten sensitivity enteropathy.”
For those with celiac disease, long-term gluten intake can result in serious complications like infertility, neurological issues, fractures, and certain cancers. This demonstrates the importance of a timely celiac disease diagnosis and strict gluten avoidance.
Getting tested for gluten intolerance
If you suspect gluten may be causing health issues for you, there are tests that can help confirm a diagnosis:
- Blood tests: These check for antibodies present in celiac disease like tTg-IgA and total serum IgA.
- Intestinal biopsy: A small sample of the small intestine is taken to check for damage caused by celiac disease.
- Genetic testing: Gene variants like HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 predispose people to gluten intolerance.
- Elimination diet: Removing gluten from your diet for several weeks can reveal if symptoms improve.
Don’t start a gluten-free diet until after testing, as this can affect results. Be sure to get tested by a gastroenterologist, who can properly diagnose and manage celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Foods to eat on a gluten-free diet
A gluten-free diet doesn’t have to feel restrictive. Here are some delicious gluten-free foods you can enjoy freely:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry
- Eggs and dairy products
- Beans, nuts and seeds
- Rice, quinoa, buckwheat, corn and other gluten-free grains
- Gluten-free flours like almond, coconut and tapioca
- Oils and vinegars
- Sugar, salt, pepper and other herbs/spices
With some creativity, you can use these whole food ingredients to prepare nourishing and satisfying gluten-free meals at home. There are also many packaged gluten-free products available today like breads, pastas, crackers and baked goods made with alternative gluten-free flours.
Alternative bread spreads
While grape jelly is one tasty gluten-free bread spread, there are plenty of other options to mix things up:
- Nut butters like peanut, almond or cashew
- Avocado mash
- Honey, jam or marmalade
- Chocolate-hazelnut spread
- Sunflower seed butter
Get creative with gluten-free sandwich fillings and open-faced toasts. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and quality gluten-free bread make delicious combinations.
Is grape jelly vegan?
Traditional grape jelly is completely vegan. The main ingredients – grapes, sugar, and pectin – are from plant sources. There are no animal products used.
Some grape jellies may contain small amounts of honey or gelatin to help thicken. Obviously, vegans would want to avoid any brands using these animal-derived ingredients.
Many brands now specifically market their grape jellies as being “vegan-friendly” on the label. Or they are certified by vegan organizations as being free of any animal products.
Making homemade grape jelly is also a vegan option, as long as you use vegan-friendly pectin. There are a few brands that sell pectin made without animal products.
Is grape jelly vegetarian?
Traditional grape jelly is vegetarian as well as vegan. The ingredients do not contain any animal products like meat, eggs or dairy.
However, some grape jellies may add small amounts of non-vegetarian ingredients like gelatin. Gelatin is produced from animal collagen, most often from pigs or cows. Vegetarians would want to avoid any brand of grape jelly containing gelatin.
Honey is another potential non-vegetarian additive to watch out for. Though many vegetarians eat honey, those following a strict vegetarian diet avoid honey as it comes from bees.
Again, brands that are specifically labeled as “vegetarian” or “vegan” are good options for vegetarians wanting to enjoy grape jelly.
Is grape jelly keto?
The ketogenic or “keto” diet emphasizes low carb, high fat foods. On keto, you want to limit sugar-filled items like fruit jellies.
A 2 tablespoon (30 gram) serving of grape jelly contains about:
- Calories: 100
- Fat: 0g
- Carbs: 25g (24g sugar)
- Protein: 0g
As you can see, grape jelly is high in sugar and carbs without any redeeming fat or protein. This makes it a poor choice for keto.
However, there are some low-sugar grape jelly options made with sugar substitutes that may fit a ketogenic diet better. Or make your own “keto jelly” using grape juice, gelatin, and low carb sweeteners like erythritol or stevia.
Overall though, grape jelly is one spread that should be limited or avoided altogether if following a strict keto meal plan.
Grape jelly can be part of a gluten-free diet as long as care is taken to select brands that avoid ingredients like maltodextrin and use dedicated gluten-free facilities. For those with celiac disease, extra precautions are needed to avoid any cross-contamination. Homemade grape jelly with simple ingredients is an even safer option. While grape jelly itself does not contain gluten, diligent label reading and understanding manufacturing processes is important for the gluten-intolerant.