Reader Tim sent this guest post as a response to my post on Baking Cleanup Tips. He explains the advantages of silicone for mixing and baking and how to choose high-quality silicone products.
Food sticking to bowls can be time consuming to clean, and increase expense by causing food waste.
Any kind of food sticking to a bowl can be prevented by using high quality silicone bowls. Silicone is naturally non-stick, so it cleans very quickly and easily. And, because silicone bowls do not need to be greased, you can use less fat in your food.
Silicone can be used at any temperature, ranging from sub-zero temperatures to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 Celsius). Some kinds can even be used at up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit (315 Celsius). Even better, silicone bowls can go straight from the freezer into a hot oven, unlike glass which will crack. Imagine being able to combine ingredients, mix, and cook in the same bowl – without any cleanup in-between steps. With silicone you can. Also, silicone is safe for use in microwave ovens and dishwashers, and is totally nontoxic.
Pans made from high-quality silicone have the same benefits as the bowls described above, and more. With silicone pans, you’re always able to get cakes and muffins out of the pan without damaging them — even burnt-on pans. Baked items fall right out of silicone baking pan when turned upside down, even shapes with small indentations like a rose-shaped cupcake. Cleaning corners inside silicone pans is super-easy, because the pan is non-stick and corners can be temporarily turned inside-out for easy access.
High quality silicone will not retain stains or odors. I tested this by making enchiladas with spicy molé sauce in my silicone pan, then immediately making brownies in the same pan. The brownies tasted and smelled only like brownies and not like molé sauce.
Silicone kitchen items are multi-tasking. For example, a silicone ice cube tray can be used to make ice, chocolates, hard candy, and small cupcakes. A silicone colander can be used for straining pasta, steaming food (in a larger container), and used upside down as a splatter cover.
High quality silicone is very durable if it is not exposed to sharp surfaces like knives. Use high quality silicone items with care and they will last for years, even with frequent use.
The benefits of silicone described above only apply to high quality silicone, meaning pure silicone without plastic or latex fillers. Most silicone kitchen items are made from silicone with fillers. One way to test if a silicone item was manufactured using fillers is to tightly fold it. If the material at the fold becomes white or lightens in color, then fillers were used to make that item.
The easy way to assure one buys only items that are made from pure silicone is to buy products made by iSi Basics and Orka by Mastrad. Both of these companies make excellent products that can be purchased from many sources online.
The two companies specialize in different types of products. iSi Basics makes silicone bowls and measuring cups that are rigid to the perfect degree; the bowls are flexible enough to have the bowl walls brought close together to form a pouring spout, yet rigid enough to stand up well unsupported and make mixing very easy without collapsing. Orka by Mastrad makes baking and steaming cookware that is rigid enough to stand unsupported. It also retains its shape without buckling or spilling contents when picked up—even when completely full. The tops of Orka’s pans and steamers have a very unique, mostly-rigid, microwave-safe frame at the top that includes convenient handles.
Thank you, Tim, for sharing your experience. I have a a silicon brush and spatula that I love, and two muffin pans that I suspect are not high quality but have served me well so far.
Are there any readers who have used silicone steamers, bowls or measuring cups? Please share your experience in the comments.
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