Benefits of and Concerns about Using Silicone Bakeware

Silicone for BakingSilicone bakeware is the in-thing nowadays due to its versatility and appealing designs. Silicone features some advantages that will out-perform your traditional bakeware. There are several key reasons why people choose to have silicone bakeware in their kitchen:

Durable: Despite being lightweight, silicone is strong and sturdy material that can last for a long time. Utensils can be used over and over again without worrying about damage. They don’t fade or wear off and they won’t get bent or break if you accidentally drop them onto a hard kitchen floor.

Non-Stick capability: Silicone bakeware has excellent nonstick capabilities. You even don’t have to use grease or a baking spray, which saves prep time and reduces calories. The baked goods came out easily and effortlessly.

Food will bake evenly: The food bakes smoothly and brown beautifully. A silicone pan stops baking process once removed from the oven, unlike metal. It cools quickly, which makes it more convenient for using.

Easy to clean: Silicone bakeware offers an easy cleaning because it has a surface that foods do not stick to. You can clean the pans using just warm water and soap, but they are dishwasher-safe too. The pans don’t stain or retain odors and flavors of the foods cooked inside. The surface has no open pores to harbor bacteria and it is also hypoallergenic.

Temperature resistant: Silicone withstands a large range of temperature changes, so it can be used for the baking, serving, and storing of food all together with no issues. It withstands temperatures from -76 to 500ºF.

Can use in microwave: Reheating baked goods or leftovers are easier with silicone. You can put your food in the fridge or a freezer, and reheat it and even serve using the same pan that you baked in.

Ease of storage: Storage of silicone dish wear is simple, because of its flexible nature. Its flexibility allows for collapsing for storage in any space and it still snaps back into shape when used in the future.

Appealing look: Silicone utensils come available in a wide variety of colors and shapes. They are usually made with cool colors which allow you to serve in the same pan the food was baked in.

Affordable: Baking dishes can be found at local stores for good prices. With a silicon mat, you can bake without using a disposable paper, which makes it a good choice for the environment as well.

Are there any Downsides?

Could be too flexible: The floppiness of silicone baking sheets can be an issue. They are quite flexible which makes lifting and transferring foods to and from the oven a bit difficult. You might need to use a firm base for added stability.

Spill risk: Liquids are not as well contained as more sturdy wear, so burns and spills can be more likely. The problem can be resolved by using a sturdy baking pan or sheet under the silicone bakeware.

Static builds up on silicone utensils and attracts dust, so they must be cleaned regularly as well.

Is Silicone Safe for Food Contact Use?

Silicone products have a wide range of benefits as discussed, but there has been controversy as to their safety for food use.

Silicone is FDA approved, as a “food-safe substance”, so bakeware made from silicone is generally considered safe for food preparation. All bakeware products must be manufactured to meet food contact safety FDA standards for silicone bakeware. Food grade silicone is non-reactive and shouldn’t leach into food or harm your food in any way. It will melt if the temperature goes above the safe temperature range, but then it still doesn’t emit toxic fumes.

Silicone has low chemical reactivity and will not support microbiological growth. Silicone dishes made from food grade silicone do not allow for cracking and peeling and there is no evidence showing that using the material with food will contaminate the food. Ensure any silicone you use is high-quality and food-grade if you choose to use it for baking. Make sure to read the instructions and use your bakeware properly and within the recommended temperature range. Each piece has the max temperature listed on it.

Are there still some Concerns Remaining?

Odors have been reported by some users, but this usually happens due to the use of low-quality and low-grade silicone. It looks as if these odors are connected to fillers used in the final product, rather than the silicone. Bakeware products made from quality, food grade silicone don’t produce any odors.

You can test your silicone for filler by twisting and pinching it. If white shows, it contains filler. Discontinue use and instead look for higher-grade silicone bakeware if that is the case.

Silicone bakeware is rated from below freezing temperatures up to 450° Fahrenheit. The safety of silicone bakeware when it is repeatedly exposed to high-temperatures over long periods has not yet been studied. So long term studies should be conducted to ensure that the silicone is completely safe for baking.

In the 2007 the Italian magazine Altroconsumo tested silicone moulds from various manufacturers on the domestic market to verify their food contact suitability. The test revealed that a particularly high level of undesirable substances was released from silicone moulds the first time the mould is used. The migration was reduced after washing the mould in the dishwasher.

If you’re going to use silicone bakeware for high temperature use, always choose quality items made of FDA-approved food grade silicone. Be sure to wash new silicone bakeware in the dishwasher prior to first use.

Photo credit: flickr.com

 

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