Now that you've decided to offer gluten free communion at your church, you're probably wondering: NOW what? What do I use? Where do I start?
Well, look no further. Today I'm going to discuss gluten free options for communion bread and wafers. This info is all from my own trial and error, as well as that of friends. I'm not paid to endorse any products. Ready? Here we go!
1. Baking your own.
This is a great option for smaller churches, particularly those that include people who love to bake. It's downside is that gf bread goes bad more quickly than normal bread, and without refrigeration fresh gf bread will usually go bad within four to five days. With refrigeration it can last up to a week, but it will be very dry near the end of that week.
It's more than possible to bake delicious gf bread from scratch, but it's a bit tricky for the uninitiated (i.e., those who haven't experimented with gf flours before). The easiest and simplest way to make some delicious gf bread is with a mix.
Gf baking is easier than regular bread baking in some important ways. Gf bread requires no kneading, so after mixing it only needs to rise and bake. Most mixes require only an egg or two and some oil, keeping ingredients to a minimum.
As a start, I'd try one of the following gf bread mixes, all of which offer good flavor and texture (click on the product name to go to the product website):
Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Mix
Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Bread Mix
King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Bread Mix
One more note on baking your own gf communion bread (or having someone in your congregation bake it): you must be very careful about cross-contamination. Buy new loaf pans rather than using old ones that may have gluten residue. If using a stand mixer, sanitize it throughly before using it to mix gf bread. Often wheat flour gets stuck up in the motor mechanism and can surreptitiously infect the gf mix.
2. Buying gluten free bread.
This is an even simpler option than baking gf bread. Most gluten free bread can be found in the freezer section and is pre-sliced. Depending on your polity and theology, this may be a no-no for the priest/pastor, who may want to break a whole loaf as part of the celebration of the sacrament.
Yet pre-sliced bread is easy to cut up for the serving trays, and the frozen varieties can easily be used a slice or two at a time and then refrozen.
The following are great breads to use for communion:
The Udi's can be defrosted, which is a bonus. The Rudi's can get a little soggy when defrosted, but is a good back-up in case Udi's is hard to find.
3. Using gluten free communion wafers.
If you serve in a church that uses wafers for the Lord's supper, gluten free wafers are available (can I get an "amen"?). Check them out here:
Ener-G Communion Wafers
These wafers have the added bonus of being yeast-free, soy-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free, eliminating the other five most common allergens. These are a great option to offer as completely allergen-free communion.
Gluten free items don't usually last as long as regular ones, so be sure to keep leftovers refrigerated or sealed in plastic. Kept that way they should last 4-5 days, and wafers should last several weeks. To keep breads longer, freeze them and defrost them later.
Most of these products are available at standard health food stores and co-ops like Whole Foods. They are all currently available online for order as well.
Keep up the good work, friends! Offering gluten free communion does not have to be a monumental task - it can be very simple with a little thought.