- Food and Cooking
Silicone Cookware - The Things You Need To Know!
Introduction into the world of Silicone Cookware
What is it? How does it work? Why should I buy Silicone? Where should I buy it from? What am I looking for? These are the answers I hope you will take away with you today.
Kitchen cookware has enjoyed many transitions over the centuries thanks to new materials becoming affordable and more mainstream. Archeological discoveries suggest clay pottery was instrumental in cooking from the Stone Age onwards. By the 17th century it was common for a kitchen to contain cookware cast from iron or bronze. These materials made way for the lighter and more practical stainless steel and aluminium cookware. With the introduction of revolutionary Teflon and other non-stick coatings, we had never had it so easy in the kitchen. Now is the turn of another innovative cooking material.
Silicone cookware has had a dramatic surge in popularity in recent years and now populates many kitchens and cookware shops across the globe. Many manufacturers of bakeware or kitchen utensils now have a range of silicone based products to compliment their collections. The reason behind the rise in awareness and popularity of Silicone Kitchenware lies in its long list of advantages and minimal drawbacks which we will look at in a moment. However with so many manufacturers producing silicone cooking instruments to keep up with demand, it is important to wean out the quality from those who cut corners.
Silicone cookware draws on one of its advantages (and coincidentally one of its disadvantages) - its flexibility - for its success. You can also use this feature to determine whether the item is 100% silicone or if it contains "filler" as do many low quality silicone products. By twisting the silicone check the ridges for signs of white stretching which indicates that filling materials have been used. If the colour remains constant, you have in your hands some high quality silicone! This initial check is important for several reasons besides checking you are getting what you pay for:Although 100% silicone is non-stick, these filling materials may not be. All the time and effort you put into baking the perfect cakes (and indeed the reason you selected silicone in the first place) may be in vain if the baked goods stick to the pan due to these fillers.100% silicone is heat resistant to over 300 degrees centigrade (well above normal cooking tempretures). It will not give off odours, discolour or compromise its integrity. However the same cannot be said for the filling material.Silicone, in its limited research, is not dangerous to the use or the environment in any way but who knows what other materials have gone into non 100% silicone produtcs? Particularly if subjected to heat, cooking ingredients, food acids etc...Be under no illusion that quality silicone will cost more than wooden or metal utensils but should be considered an investment that will stand the test of time whether only occasionally used in a domestic kitchen or extensively in professional kitchens.Did you know?Silicone is a very common element found in rocks and sand and makes up approximately 28% of the Earth's crust.
To sum up, despite some of its disadvantages, silicone cookware is becoming more widely available in specialist cookware shops and on the internet and thanks to brightly coloured, intuitive and imaginative designs, more and more modern kitchens around the world are embracing the colour revolution.
Question Spotlight: Will my Silicone Cakepan Melt in the Oven?
Short Answer: No (provided you stick to normal cooking temperatures)
There is something logic-defying about putting rubber into a hot oven and probably the reason most of us are skeptable about buying silicone bakeware. "Won't it melt/burn/give off toxic fumes??"
[add more] Do not subject to a naked flame
To help put your mind at ease did you know that Silicones are even used to make the heat resistant tiles on the bottom of space shuttles? If its good enough for stopping spacecraft burning up in our atmosphere, it is good enough for baking a couple muffins!
Question Spotlight: Should I Grease My SIlicone Cookware Before Use?
Short Answer: Yes (to be safe)
Silicone, a type of synthetic rubber, is specifically formulated as a nonstick product designed to smoothly release baked goods without lubrication from baking fats such as oil or oil sprays. Manufacturer instructions for popular silicone cookware brands such as KitchenAid and Wilton state that no oil is necessary on their products' nonstick surfaces. Of course, the non-stick properties of the silicone could be linked to the quality of manufacture and materials used in production.
While silicone cookware and bakeware is proven effective at releasing food without sticking, it is not foolproof each time. In the January 10, 2007 edition of the New York Times, SiliconeZone owner Michael Karyo said, "If any silicone manufacturer says you never have to grease a pan, no matter, they are not telling you the truth" Because baking fats will not adversely affect silicone in any way, it does no harm to spritz silicone cookware with an oil spray prior to use.
Although you don't have to use oil on a nonstick silicone cookware surface, expert cooks such as New York Times food and dining editor Marian Burros recommend pre-greasing silicone bakeware with butter, oil or oil spray to be doubly sure that baked goods and other dishes will release easily. This is particularly important when baking cakes with detailed designs or intricate patterns so that the thinner parts of the cake do not get left behind ruining the overall presentation.
Question Spotlight: Is Silicone Cookware Dangerous?
Short Answer: No (Though it is too early to tell for sure)
Silicone as a material has only been around for a few decades, much less as a material used in kitchens and thusly there are no research reports to suggest concretely whether Silicone is safe or toxic as a cooking material.
"Back in 1979 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that silicon dioxides—the basic elements in silicone cookware—were generally recognized as safe to use even in food-grade contexts. But the first silicone cookware (silicone spatulas) didn't start to show up on store shelves until a decade later, and the FDA hasn't conducted any follow-up studies to determine whether silicone can leach out of cookware and potentially contaminate food. For its part, Canada's health agency, Health Canada, maintains that food-grade silicone does not react with food or beverages or produce any hazardous fumes, and as such is safe to use up to recommended temperatures"
Source: Is SIlicone Cookware Safe?
In the short term, cooking with silicone seems safe and none of the the original percieved potential problems suggest to the contrary. Cooking within the suggested temperatures limits produces no toxic fumes or gases and the silicone does not degrade or break down. Silicone has not been found to react with any food ingredients or cooking additives. It is not toxic to aquatic or soil organisms and whilst it is not biodegradable, it can be recycled after a lifetime of use.
Quick Poll on SIlicone Cookware - What's your verdict?
I mostly use silicone cookware for...?
Debate: Silicone vs. Traditional
Ok, so in spite of all the advantages listed above, some of you are still bound to be hesitant about embracing silicone cookware based on pre-conceptions, aesthetics etc. Others welcome silicone cookware and utensils with open arms. So...
Would you trade in your traditional wooden and metal utensils/cookware for silicone?
I like my spoons wooden and my cake trays rigid!
Article Spotlight: "Some Types Of Cookware Are Bad For You"
The author of the article is a perfect example of the type of audience I am trying to reach with this lens. Largely skeptable about silicone cookware fueled by the lack of evidence suporting the safety of silicone one way or another.
"You take time and energy to find good quality organic food, fresh organic produce, dairy and meat. But how do you cook it?
The pots and pans you use to cook your food in can also have a great effect on your health. The food is in direct contact with the pot in which you prepare it, and when heated, the pot can further exacerbate any potential chemical contamination. It is very important to use cookware that will not leach undesirable chemicals into your food..."
"...Personally, I would also not cook with silicone bakeware or utensils. The same goes for plastic cooking utensils. I have not seen enough evidence to know that I can trust them"
Read the full Article here: Some types of cookware are bad for you