what's the verdict on silicon bakeware? - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-19-2006, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It seems to be everywhere. Is it safe/healthy to use? Is silicon environmentally-friendly? (I hope these aren't really dumb questions!: )
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Old 06-20-2006, 10:27 AM
 
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i think it's bad bad bad but I couldn't actually tell you why. We only use cast iron and steel (?) now. I think anything like silicon somnes off in your cooking...anyone got hard evidence?
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Old 06-20-2006, 10:42 AM
 
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Health issues aside, I think Cook's Illustrated did a test with it and found that it's just hype. It's not any better than regular pans. Besides, imagine baking a cherry pie in one of those flexi silicone pans. Pulling something like that out of a hot oven just makes me think it's a formula for getting scalded and burned.
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Old 06-20-2006, 11:25 AM
 
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I don't see how it's bad for you, they use silicone in the body in medical parts. But as cookware, it's a disappointment, the things are flexy. That's supposed to be a feature, you're supposed to be able to just peel it off the baked goods. I may not be using them right, because the few things I've baked have stuck. I think the pot holders are great though.
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Old 06-20-2006, 07:26 PM
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I don't see how they can be bad either. I like the mini muffin cups. I don't have to use paper and they come out great everytime. I don't have to clean them in between batches, each batch has come out of the mold perfectly. I like the metal pans for other baking, but for the mini muffins they are great.
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Old 06-20-2006, 07:42 PM
 
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They are NOT bad environmentally. We are crunchy as hell and Dh used to work for a hazardous chemical company so he knows all about the elements and chemicals. Silicon is the most inert element out there. That means that it has almost no reactions with other elements, and is very stable so it doesn't come apart (the molecules stick together and would never come off in your food). That's why they use it internally for replacement body parts - because it's so safe. It also has an extremely high melting temperature (again because it's so stable) so it is completely safe to cook with.

I don't have any because I don't bake but if I did, I would use it for muffin cups, etc. Much better than disposable paper ones.

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Old 06-20-2006, 08:31 PM
 
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I loooove it for muffins, too. I have a breadpan, too, but haven't used it yet. It doesn't sound so good for a pie, though, because of the flexy-ness
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Old 06-25-2006, 04:37 PM
 
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Dumb question - my children were using silicon straws, which I had read were safer than plastic, but when I mentioned it to a friend she commented, "remember those silicon breast implants that turned out to be so dangerous." So did the danger come from something else in the implants and not the silicon itself?
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Old 06-25-2006, 10:47 PM
 
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The danger came from the fact that the silicone was in gel form, so the silicone had the opportunity (once the bag of gel was broken) to permeate throughout the body, including into fatty tissue and soft tissue... this often led to an immune reaction against the silicone, and immune reaction translates to pain, firm spots, and possible systemic immune diseases such as fibromyalgia. Saline breast implants still have a silicone shell, but if the bag breaks, the saline is absorbed into the breast safely, and there is no reaction to the silicone shell (likely b/c it is not gel).

Silicone is used safely (in a solid form) in knee and hip replacements, heart valves, and prostheses, b/c it is in a solid form and can't permeate through tissues.

The silicone in a straw is either going to stay on the straw or if your kids are chewers, the little solid pieces of silicone would pass through the GI system unaltered. The cookware silicone is going to stay in one piece, away from the baked goods. My perception would be that a straw or cookware would be safe, b/c of the inert property of silicone when a solid.


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Old 06-25-2006, 11:56 PM
 
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I don't know about the health stuff, haven't done the research. However, I can tell you that I've used them twice, and they are absolutely awful. Nothing browns, ever. It takes two or three times as long as my regular bakeware to even BAKE it. And I'm a rather practiced baker. I hate that stuff, and wouldn't waste a single penny on it (the pans I used were borrowed).

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Old 05-17-2007, 12:53 PM
 
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I've read that you're supposed to allow the product (eg. cake) to cool completely before trying to unmold it. That might be a reason it's sticking. I'm looking into the sheets for putting on cookie trays as I'm ridding our home of contact with aluminum, teflon and other metallic "non-stick" surfaces. I've also read that you should still grease the pans to prevent sticking. Also, placing the silicone pan on a cookie sheet and handling it in and out of the oven that way is much safer than trying to handle it by itself.
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Old 05-17-2007, 01:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by julejule_abcar View Post
I'm looking into the sheets for putting on cookie trays as I'm ridding our home of contact with aluminum, teflon and other metallic "non-stick" surfaces.
Those are the ones I am interested in - my baking sheets are a steel/aluminum alloy. I love the way they bake, but I feel like it would be healthier if I used the silicone pads over them. Also, I often use a sheet of aluminum foil over the pan to make clean-up easier , which I know isn't healthy. Does anyone have the silicone pads? How do they work?
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Old 05-17-2007, 02:22 PM
 
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I have silpats (the sheets) and muffin pans in silicone. I LOVE them.

Definitely pay attention to the temperature warnings, though. At Christmas, I unthinkingly put my roast potatoes in a 525F oven with a silpat liner on the rack... and it was bad. The potatoes were fine, though, no taste of anything but potatoey goodness. (The silpat wound up in the trash once it cooled off a bit, it was melted.)

And I've never had a problem with my muffin pans releasing (or browning). I got them originally because I make DH egg muffins for breakfasts sometimes (scrambled eggs and meat/cheese/veggies), but getting them to release from Teflon was a joke, and can't use paper liners either. They pop right out of the silicone pan with nary a mess. I do wash the pan between, but just to get the grease off, nothing sticks to it.

Cookies pop right off of the silpats, as do cream puffs, cheese toast, for some reason I'm drawing a blank on all I use them for... but you can even melt cheese on one, let it cool and it'll pop right off, no scrubbing needed. Anything that you'd put on a sheet pan but not cut on the sheet pan can be baked with a silpat (since you can very easily cut right through a silpat). They can be a bit of a pain to wash, since they're so floppy, but I just flip the sheet pan over and put the silpat on the back of it and wash it that way. They really can't go in the dishwasher.

There is a difference between brands, though. Not all silicone is created equally. A cheap silicone pan is still a cheap pan. And you definitely have to put it on a sheet pan. My muffin pans go onto a sheet pan before filling, or I'd never be able to move them (made that mistake just once). They do sell silicone muffin pans with racks so that you don't have to put it on a sheet pan. I don't think I'd use a silicone pie pan though, just because of the weight of the pie filling... I've looked at bundt pans, but I'm happy with my glass one. I wouldn't mind a silicone (round) cake pan though.

If you're buying silpats, pay close attention to the measurements. The wrong size sheet just doesn't work very well. The right size should be maybe 1 inch smaller than the outer measurement of your pan in both directions. If you can buy them locally, I highly recommend taking your pan into the store with you to get the right one.

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Old 05-17-2007, 05:11 PM
 
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I also have Silpats and enjoy using them.

I had been using parchment paper, and hated all the waste I was making.

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Old 05-17-2007, 06:11 PM
 
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I'm glad to hear that the silicone is so very inert. I've been using muffin cups, albeit somewhat warily. I also have silicone spatula/scrapers, which I *love*. I can use them to scrape down hot pans without them melting, they're so much tougher than rubber so if I'm scraping down the bowl of the food processor and catch the blade it nicks instead of shears off.

From a culinary perspective, silicone pans aren't perfect for everything but they have their place. I, too, cannot forsee using one for a pie. Well, not most pies - maybe a shallow tart that needs to be unmolded after it's done.

I don't think I'd buy silpat sheets. Browning on the bottom of a cookie is a positive thing. And really, cookie sheets are not that difficult to clean. Unlike muffins, it's not like there's some disposable product that I'd be saving by using the silicone.

But, muffin cups are awesome. They unmold *so* easily. Muffins don't really brown inside paper liners anyway, so you're not missing anything by them not browning in silicone.

I also use the muffin cups for freezing small portions of things: homemade ice cream, fruit purees. I froze tons of fruit purees when the fruits were in season in the silicone cups, unmolded them and put them in bags for long-term storage. I could take one lump o' fruit out each night all winter to use in my smoothie the next morning. It took up much less room than freezing whole fruit.

I'm eying up some of the fancy shape muffin cups, like roses and hearts, for making custards. How cute would it be to make a baked custard in a rose cup, then unmold it for serving? You could never do that with a rigid mold, the custard is way too delicate.
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Old 05-17-2007, 06:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tboroson View Post
I don't think I'd buy silpat sheets. Browning on the bottom of a cookie is a positive thing. And really, cookie sheets are not that difficult to clean.
The cookies do still brown on the bottom with the silpat (I ate the last cookie yesterday or I'd give you pics). As do cream puffs. That's a property of the metal sheet (which is why my muffins brown, since the silicone pan is sitting on a sheet pan). It just means I don't have to grease the pan, I can move the cookies without worrying about them sticking, and the pan just needs a quick rinse when I'm done (instead of a scrubbing). I can also bake pan after pan of cookies and not have to worry about baking the crumbs and chocolate and whatever else onto my pan. My cookie sheets don't fit in the dishwasher, so I hate having to wash them.

In my kitchen, anything that says "grease pan" or "line pan with parchment" in the instructions get cooked on a silpat instead.

One tip though - don't roast meat on silicone. Getting the taste/smell out of the silicone afterwards is not easy.

Oh, and I love my silicone spatulas. I had to buy my BF her own, since she kept trying to slip mine into her purse when she came over. They come in a couple different sizes, but that one is my fave (fits my hand the best).

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Old 05-17-2007, 06:45 PM
 
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I think that silicone pie plates would be good to use as a liner inside a metal or glass one, to make cleanup easier. Oh, wait a minute- then you might cut the silicone when you slice the pie.

I have a silicone bundt pan- which I don't use very often but when I do use it, I put it on a cookie sheet before filling it with batter, then transfer the cake to a plate before serving.

So it sounds like silicone is good for muffins, bundt pans, and as liners for cookie sheets, but are pretty useless in a pie plate or casserole dish. They'd probably good for gelatin molds as well.

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