If you live within the delivery zone the Ocado gluten free range has for a long time made Ocado a great choice for grocery shopping for coeliacs and others avoiding gluten. As of January 2018 however, there is momentous news . . .
Ocado Free From Own Brand Launch!
Woohoo! Ocado have launched their own brand Free From Range! This includes own brand Ocado gluten free products and in fact all of the Ocado Free From Range is gluten free. Many of the initial 21 products are also dairy free and some are Vegan Society approved.
To view the whole range of Ocado own brand free from follow this link or search for “Ocado Free From” within the Ocado storefront.
Ocado for Coeliacs & Gluten Intolerant
The launch by Ocado of their Free From own brand is part of an overall development of their own brand range. Alison Rhodes, Head of Own Brand at Ocado, says this about the launch:
“It’s important to us that all of our customers, including those avoiding gluten and wheat, can enjoy popular favourites such as bread, breakfast cerealsand sweet treats like cookies.
This month, we’re adding over 20 new products to our Free From range to help those with specific food intolerances as well as anyone looking to embrace the growing trend, without compromising on taste
Through our dedicated Free From webshop, shoppers will be able to add gluten-free store cupboard staples to their basket, alongside full meal options like pizzas, goujons and fishcakes – all delivered straight to their door for a stress-free weekly shop.”
I do like that this press statement explicitly and firstly names people with food intolerances as the market for the range. By contrast some other supermarkets that have launched own brand free from range have chosen to focus exclusively on those following the gluten free trend without any mention of coeliacs or gluten intolerant people. Aldi is one example.
Taste Testing the Ocado Gluten Free Range!
All good so far but the killer question is, are the products in the range any good? Tasty? Nutritious? Good value? I’ve sampled four so far.
Ocado Gluten Free Mediterranean Style Bloomer
This gluten and dairy free bloomer is one of three together with an Onion Bloomer and a Mixed Seed Bloomer. I chose this expecting it would be the most flavoursome and was not disappointed.
On opening I was greeted by a wonderful herby and spicy aroma from the paprika, onion, tomato and oregano. These same ingredients make this one of the most interesting and flavoursome gluten free breads and the tastiest I have sampled of any big brand gluten free bread. Thanks to organizing taste tests and participating in Free From Food Awards, I have tasted quite a lot!
Texture is firm and medium-density but also soft and chewy. Great for scooping things up, great open sandwiches. Bake it for 5-7 minutes to unlock more flavour, crisp up the crust and make it into a wonderful base for bruschetta!
Nutritionally this is still just a collection of refined starches like most gluten free breads but no worse and slightly better than others thanks to the additional ingredients and a decent fibre content.
This is a great bread. Quite honestly I would buy this over any other bread available in a supermarket.
Ocado Gluten Free Cookies
There are four varieties. Cranberry & White Chocolate, Milk Choc Chunk, All Butter and Triple Choc Chunk.
All of these are generously sized, crumbly, crunchy American style cookies which melt in the mouth. I tried the Cranberry and Triple Choc Chunk. In both the extra ingredients do add a little something. Chewy Cranberries in the former. Chocolately aftertaste to chase the sweetness in the latter.
Goes well with? You need help with cookies? Sure! Pair them with tigernut milk, or hemp milk, tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Caveat that these are *not* dipping cookies, they will fall apart if you dunk them in your brew!
Ocado Gluten Free Pizzas
Comes in two varieties. There is a simple Margherita and a Pepperoni. There is plenty of cheese on a thin & crispy base which bakes well. The crusts get nicely crispy & crunchy whilst the middle stays slightly chewy & doughy. Add your own extra toppings and seasonings to liven them up.
Neither are anything special but the taste and texture are similar to other gluten free pizzas and the price is lower. Cheaper than Schar, Dr Oetker and Pizza Express and same price as Tesco own brand.
Goes well with? Your own toppings! Sliced mushrooms, peppers, artichoke hearts, sliced olives, capers, garlic, garlic and garlic. Also garlic.
Ocado Gluten Free Fishcakes
These are gluten free Fishcakes kept simple. The cod and potato filling is enveloped by a light, crispy coating rather than breadcrumbs. Flavor is gentle, ready for garnishing with whatever condiments you like best.
Tesco brought out their own gluten free fishcakes some years ago which appear to have been discontinued. Other options I know of are Georgia’s Choice available from Sainsbury and Morrisons and two varieties offered by M&S, Cod and Salmon.
Why only 3 stars? There is no information provided about responsible sourcing of the fish for these fishcakes. Other Ocado fish products are MSC certified but these do not appear to be.
Goes well with? Vegan mayo, tartare sauce, lemon juice,, herbs, chilli or whatever your preference might be.
Why shop Ocado Gluten Free?
There are three things which I love about shopping at Ocado as a gluten free eater with a preference for vegan foods. First is their incredibly broad range of gluten free products, 1,549 at the time of writing. To see all the dedicated gluten free foods that Ocado offer including but not limited to their own brand, follow this link or navigate to Free From & Organic > Free From > Gluten Free within Ocado.
Second is the ease finding those products. Everything that is free from, and gluten free, is effectively found within the same virtual ‘aisle’. Food cupboard, chilled, frozen, ready meals, cakes, biscuits and anything and everything else can be found within the dedicated Free From aisle. Compared to a physical store this makes finding free from foods so much quicker and easier since they are not separated into different areas of the store. I am surprised that the online platforms for other supermarkets have not all copied the same approach.
Third is the overall customer experience considering cost, speed and simplicity. Within many product categories Ocado offer products ranging from basic or essential pricing through to premium brands. The favourite system means that whenever there are deals on your own favorite brands they are brought to your attention without fail.
I have used other supermarkets online services but none appear as fast or clever as Ocado. Combine that with one hour delivery windows and yeah, I admit to being an Ocado fan.
One bonus reason. I have occasionally noted incorrect allergen information for products listed by Ocado. These may be due to direct replication of what is given to Ocado by the vendor. Whenever I have reported these to Ocado I have received a personal reply with thanks and promise of action to address it. That promise has also been delivered on. I checked of course :-)