What is silicone bakeware?
Bakeware products have come a long way in recent years, Both glass and metal products have given up the top spot to the more temperature stable silicone based products.
Silicone is a rubber like material that is very malleable and very user friendly. It makes baking so much easier as you are no longer having to deal with rigid structures when you are trying to get cakes etc out of the trays when they are cooked.
There are now a wide range of options including loaf pans, pie pans, bundt pans, cookie sheets, cupcake pans and many other uses. You can even find cooking utensils that have been made from silicone.
What makes silicone bakeware special?
One of the characteristics that make silicone bakeware so useful is its ability to stand up to high temperatures without getting hot to the touch. This means that you don’t have to wait for the tray to cool down before you handle it.
If you have children that are active in the kitchen you can see that the fact that they don’t get hot makes this a safer option when cooking with them. Factor in the bright colours that the silicone can come in makes for more fun in the kitchen as well. It is important to remember that although silicone get cool very fast, the contents it is holding usually does not and can burn children if they don’t know this.
Is silicone easy to clean?
This is one of the advantages of silicone – it is so easy to clean. Silcone has “nonstick” properties and so makes the cleaning process so much easier to deal with. Because it is so flexible and durable compared to other metallic nonstick products it means you can clean then quickly and with little worry about scratching etc.
How durable is Silicone
This is where you have to be a little little bit careful. While silicone is very versatile, scratch resistant, flexible and easy to use, you have to be very careful with things like knives etc as it is easy to puncture or cut the silicone. Another very important point that should be noted is that not all silicone products are made equal – some are made with mixing other chemicals into it. For me it is very simple, if is not 100% silicone I am not going to buy it.
On my travels around the internet I have come across a number of people using the pinch test (pinch a piece of the silicon quite hard, if it remains the same or pure then perfect, if you see white powder coming out or markings appearing then maybe don’t buy it or send it back if it claims to be 100% pure).
Having said this though with a little bit of care your silicone bakeware products will last you well.
The advantages of using Silicone Bakeware
- They can come in a range of fun colours whiz is great for getting the little ones involved.
- It is environmentally friendly and can be used as a replacement for deposable containers such as those used for cupcakes.
- Silicone is not sensitive to rapid changes in temperature like metal or glass and can be taken directly from the freezer into the oven or the other way round with no side effects.
- They are safe and very easy to clean as well as being very easy to use and are very child friendly. You can clean them in the dishwasher or in soapy water and a brush.
- They don’t easily stain and so look vibrant and new for longer.
- While they are pretty good in the nonstick department it is always advisable to use a little butter or oil to help the process along.
- Silicone is inert and so does not react with food liquids or other chemicals, it does not give off fumes and it does not hold onto food odours.
- Because silicone can handle high temperatures (up to 400 degrees fahrenheit),it makes for great utensils as it does not burn or melt as easily as other utensils if left in the pot.
- Even if you scratch Silicone bakeware or kitchen utensils this will not affect the performance in terms of nonstick cooking and cleaning.
The Disadvantages of using silicone bakeware
- Silicone products are usually more expensive then tradition bakeware if price is a factor in your decision.
- There are some lower quality silicone products out there that contain fillers that might be hazardous. I have stated this before but it worth mentioning again that you should only buy from trusted brands that state that it is 100% silicone. If you cannot afford that then i would advise you to look for a more traditional alternative.
- It needs to be said that while silicone has been tested and deemed very safe for humans to use this is still a relatively new product and so there are really no long terms studies on the effects on silicone products exposed to high temperatures over long periods of time.
- Because silicone is inert it is not readily biodegradable.
Some helpful tips for using silicone bakeware
Cleaning – avoid using abrasives (you should never have to use these anyway on any silicone products), if there is something stuck on it just let it soak for a bit. while scratching wont affect the performance, silicone is easily scratched and over time this will just ruin the product and make it look unsightly.
You can put them in the dishwasher without a problem, personally I like to wash them by hand so that I can make sure that they are clean. I feel that things that cost more should be given special treatment even if that is not always necessary – but that is just me.
When preparing for baking I always like to add a little bit of butter or oil, they are non stick but this just makes the whole process even easier, again this is personal preference.
Removing your cooked food from silicone pans – When you have removed these from the oven it is a good idea to let it sit for about 10 mins. Cake will shrink as it cools and so this will make it easier to get out.
If you put a plate on top of the cake and turn it over it should just come out with no fuss. If you need to turn this over again you can use the same process with another plate.
You can also use a towel to get bread and muffins out ( cover your hand with a towel and turn the pan over so that the bread drops into your hand ) you should use caution and a healthy dose of common sense when doing this so that you don’t burn you hand(ie. wait for it to cool). if it turned upside down and not coming first try pushing the bottom with your finger to help loosen it from the bottom. Like using other types of bakeware, if all else fails use a spatular.
It is important to remember that using silicone bakeware will be different from the traditional methods, I advise taking a moment and thinking about what you are doing when you are first using the product. Remember things like the trays are flexible and it might be difficult to get it to oven by hand, you might have to use a tray to put in on while you are preparing and then put that in the oven.
Like other types of bakeware you need to make sure silicone is clean when you put it away (that is why I clean it by hand), make sure the the surface doe not have a film of oil on it as this can harbour bacteria. Scratches too can harbour bacteria and is something to think about, also then can hold in bits of soap etc and if you have lower quality products the chemical that are used as fillers can come out.
Things to think about when using Silicone bakeware
Because silicone is very resistant to heat you can prepare food and freeze it in the silicone product that you are using and then simply add it strait into the oven which can be a time saver if you are that way inclined.
You should never use knives on silicone. if you have a cake that you want to slice do so when the cake is out of the silicone pan. knives can easily slice though silicone and this would render it useless.
Please remember that silicone cools down very fast the items inside them don’t. You can easily burn your self on the still hot contents or if they contain liquids these can easily be spilt on you because of the wobbly nature of silicone. I always use an oven tray to put the silicone pan on, and I of course use oven gloves – better safe then sorry when it comes to burning your self or even worse our kids when we are cooking with them.
Silicone bakeware can make the the cooking times shorter so it is advisable to have check frequently when you first start using them and adjust accordingly.
It should also be noted that while silicone is heat resistant you should never put it on direct heat like hob, grills BBQ racks or stove tops – Never … don’t even think of it !!! it will end in disaster.
How do I store my silicone bakeware ?
the first thing to makes sure of is that they are dry before you store them away – that water can sit there for a while breeding bacteria which can taint the food next time you use it. They fold up and so are more likely to hold the moisture for longer.
While they are good for dishwashers I would always recommend washing by hand. If there is anything stuck on the silicone you can scrap it off using a silicone utensil if you have one. I like to leave them to soak for a little bit to make sure that everything comes off supper easy.
You can pretty much store them anywhere within reason. they can be squashed to fit into spaces and they will bounce back to their original shape when next needed
Silicone products are versatile and very robust and make for a very “forgiving” baking tool. Because it is a relative new comer to the scene I would always recommend that you look for top of the range products as apposed to the cheaper ones that have other chemicals added to them.
They will add color to your kitchen and are a great companion for children who like to spend time cooking. They simply make cooking more fun in my opinion and combine that whit what I have talked about in this article make these a worthy addition to a kitchen.