EL PASO, Texas -- Former Borderland food columnist Ruth Taber shares tips on how to use silicone to help you make great meals in the kitchen:
Silicone in the Kitchen – from Ruth Taber, email@example.com
I bought my first silicone muffin baking pan in 2001 – while browsing in a French culinary/kitchen shop. I was skeptical – how could these floppy things go into the oven and come out with perfect muffins? The shopkeeper assured me the French had been using silicone for baking molds for years – especially for the great French breads carried home every day from local bakeries. My next silicone purchase was a Silpat mat – for my baking sheets – yielding perfect goodies from the non-stick surface.
In the past 20 years my kitchen cabinets have been bulging with silicone kitchen helpers. I discovered that food cooked in silicone cooks evenly and also cools down quickly. Silicone bakeware is cool enough to handle within minutes after removing from oven; silicone bakeware can go straight from oven to table – good looking molds become serving dishes. (I use silicone serving spoons, forks too!) It can go directly from the oven to the freezer or vice versa,
I’m often asked if there’s a difference between silicon and silicone. Yes!!!
They are two very different things.
Silicon is a naturally occurring chemical element, whereas silicone is a synthetic substance –made from silicon, oxygen and other elements. (Silicone is BPA free since it’s not a petroleum product)
Silicone can be liquid, or a flexible, rubberlike material and has lots of useful properties, such as low toxicity and high heat resistance. In the medical field, silicone can be found in implants, catheters, contact lenses, bandages and other products; silicone is also pound in shampoos, shaving cream, personal lubricants and more.
Why silicone shines in the kitchen for me:
High heat resistance, non-stick properties, flexible handling and a piece of cake to clean. Better looking cakes, muffins – no papers needed. Silicone implements for stirring, scraping, etc never hurt the finish of pans/bowls. Silicone potholders are the best! Save on plastic wrap – cover leftovers with silicone lids. Silicone scrubbers, or mitts – pick up any hot pan handle. Grab silicone measuring cups from microwave heating/melting without burning hands. Silicone can go directly from the oven to the freezer or vice versa.
Hints for using: some silicone bakeware is very “floppy” (they should be used on a rack or cooking sheet to prevent flipping your dough/baked goods onto the floor!) No sharp knives should be used on silicone, please! If I have an ornate mold with an intricate design I often shpritz some oil before filling with batter.
Silicone bakeware is rated safe for temperatures below freezing and up to 500F. (but some manufacturers state 425F (check manufacturer’s specs. on packaging).
Good quality silicone should not emit any odor or discolor with use. If it does – you probably paid less and got poor quality silicone made with fillers or additives. If an item seems too cheap compared to similar ones – be suspicious; pay a few extra dollars and go for quality. Not all manufacturers have the same standards.
My favorite brands are Lékué, (a Spanish company) and Mastrad (a French company).
Shop for silicone items on Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc.