General Question

ibstubro's avatar

Is there a practical application for silicone bakeware, or is it just another fad?

Asked by ibstubro (18717points) January 12th, 2016

I have a business that deals in re-sale, so I’ve had opportunity to try all kinds of silicone bakeware and I really just don’t ‘get’ it.

Silicone sags when it gets hot.
I was excited to try a silicone baking sheet bordered in heavy gauge steel. It sagged.

Silicone stains.
I thought silicone was going to be stain free. Nope. Much of it stained on first use.

Silicone allows easy release from pans.
I didn’t see a lot of difference in the ease of release, but the fact that the silicone was floppy rather than rigid seemed to increase the likelihood of breaking chunks off unmolding.

Some non-baking silicone products I’ve tried include a spatter screen with metal rim and a black, 3 piece steamer for the microwave.

What’s your experience?

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31 Answers

cazzie's avatar

They make great soap moulds.

AdventureElephants's avatar

They’re great for my zombie apocalypse backpack. Way better than clunky, heavy metal pans that take up space.

Mods, I’m serious. Don’t delete me. Survival cache… Benefit.

Cruiser's avatar

I have shied away from silicone bakeware on the suspicions of issues you have expressed @ibstubro plus I work with and sell silicones and know a bit about what they are made of and that alone is reason enough for me to steer clear of the stuff no matter what the FDA says.

Think about this for a moment….silicone is made from silicon dioxide which is essentially sand. Show me anywhere in nature where sand is soft and flexible. So to make polymers like silicone soft and flexible you need to formulate them with plasticizers. I know for a fact that plasticizers and the pigments can and do leach out when polymers are heated and is unavoidable. Yum!

Also think about how sick women get when one of their fake boobies rupture!

Similar scary things can be said about aluminum and teflon bakeware. I bake in all glass.

ibstubro's avatar

Too bad you’re not stateside, @cazzie. I could get you all the really cool silicone molds you want for pennies.

Along the same line, @AdventureElephants, I bought a collapsible silicone colander because it takes up so little space. Now I can’t find it! True story.
You need to test the silicone pans out before you depend on them for the Apocalypse. Useless over a fire, IMO.

I, too, bake only in glass now, @Cruiser. When it’s clean, it’s so clean because of the non-reactivity.
When silicone bakeware stained it kind of freaked me out. Here I thought I was using something non-reactive, and it absorbs food color on first use?
I like a microwave steamer. Would you believe Tupperware plastic or silicone to be a better option? Very, very occasional use, and heating under 4 minutes?

AdventureElephants's avatar

@ibstubro True, they are worthless over fire. I have a baking square, a muffin pan (very multi-functional… I could start seedling growth in it, for example), and two bowls/casseroles packed. Not sure how well they will store. We’ll find out. My pack is in the shed, so it is subject to extreme temp swings year-round. So far it’s been fine over two years. I doubt that will continue, but they are lightweight and packable. Maybe I should test run the pan on a flat rock slab over a fire soon. I know direct flame is out, but secondary heat from a slab?

ibstubro's avatar

In all seriousness, @AdventureElephants, if I thought there was a chance I might have to depend on the silicone pans in the future, I would test them. My tests, under normal cooking conditions, have been unsatisfactory for me.
In my experience, they stain, they stick, and they lose shape under higher temps.

I suppose you could check survivalist blogs for a good, non-hands on recommendation?

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I stopped using silicone bakeware because foods don’t brown properly. A casserole doesn’t get crunchy around the edges, and pastries have a pallid, monochrome appearance. Also, as other people have mentioned, the pieces stain easily and lose their shapes and get floppy.

ibstubro's avatar

I don’t think I’ve tried a casserole or pastry in silicone, @Love_my_doggie.

As floppy as the pieces I’ve tried get, I’m afraid of a failure in my non-self-cleaning oven.

I’ve seen the silicone pans that some with separate, metal, supports and I’m like, “WTH!?” Where’s convenience in that?

JLeslie's avatar

I use Silpats for some types of cookie baking. I really like them for merengue cookies.

ibstubro's avatar

But for meringue cookies, your looking more for non-stick drying than browning, @JLeslie? What else do you use them for?

cazzie's avatar

My heart moulds lost shape after using them for a batch of soap I covered well so they would go through a very hot ‘gel stage’. That was hot enough to get them to bulge and get all out of shape. Bad bad for hot gel stage, but if I control it, It does ok.

Buttonstc's avatar

I have so far resisted buying silicone bakeware due to the “flop” factor mentioned.

However, I do have a collapsible coffee drip cone which is great. I also have a colander and measuring cups and spoons, silicone and all collapsible so they can fit in a drawer rather than taking up large. amounts of space otherwise.

Is silicone a fad or here to stay? The bakeware probably will disappear but for the Silpat mats alone I think silicone is here to stay. Add in the collapsible feature and I think silicone will still be around.

Stinley's avatar

I have some cupcake moulds in silicone so that I can reuse them. Always thinking of the environment… I put them in a metal cupcake tray to bake them.

Not bakeware but I also have a spatula in silicone which I use to scrape out the mixing bowl. It leaves very little behind (my children hate it – no licking the bowl!)

JLeslie's avatar

I also use them for coconut macaroons and almond cookies. I think my husband uses them for biscotti too.

I am similar to @Cruiser that I primarily use glass for health concerns. I use glass for storage, microwaving, and a lot of oven baking and cooking. I rarely make cookies, so for the few times a year I don’t fret about using the Silpats.

ibstubro's avatar

The first time I used my collapsible measuring cup, it stained, @Buttonstc. I tried using it for something solid-ish and I was afraid the squishy nature would give me an inaccurate measure. I like the calendar (if I could find it!) and love the veggie steamer, but they’re both dark colored.

I have a set of cupcake liners, too, @Stinley. Problems is, I don’t ever remember baking cupcakes! Why the heck did I buy them? 12 for 50ยข. lol
I love my silicone spatulas! Great for gravy and sauces because you can be sure you got everything off the bottom.

I’m working on being 100% glass, too, @JLeslie. I wish I could find more sizable glass containers with glass lids. I use Corelle dinnerware and a cool thing I got recently was plastic lids to fit over the mid-sized bowls. I can serve then cover leftovers, refrigerate them, and re-heat in the same bowl. Not the lids. But you can buy boxes of the waxed paper pop-ups like they use for self serve donuts pretty cheap. They make perfect splatter covers for the microwave!

msh's avatar

There is a ‘grabber’ that is advertised, which is made of silicone. It’s to be used like an oven mitt. I hesitated wondering if it heated too quickly when holding an oven-heated item ( like a glass container.) I sometimes hold the containers while combining contents, so it means holding really hot items more than just from oven to cooling racks. Are they strong heat conductors or do they stay cool enough? The regular mitts get really hot…
I would appreciate any ideas. :)

Buttonstc's avatar

@ibstubro

For covering containers are you aware that they sell covers which don’t have to fit exactly.

Basically they come in a variety of sizes in a pack for different bowls. To best describe them they’re like smaller versions of a shower cap.

I don’t know that I woukd put them in a microwave since they’re designed for covering up in the fridge.

JLeslie's avatar

The lids on my glass containers are some sort of silicone or plastic, but I almost never have the top on in any way when I heat the food, and the food rarely is touching any food at all, even when cold.

I still to this day don’t have an ideal sized glass covered dish for lunches for my husband, so we just get along with glass that isn’t an ideal size. The containers seem to be made for storing food, not eating from them. The sides needed to be shorter, and the dish big enough, that it’s for a typical sized meal.

cazzie's avatar

Just today, I got tempted for 30kr to buy a silicone spatula. I had one of those nylon/plastic spatula that got too hot so they bubbled and crumbled and ended up in my food, so I wasn’t going to go back to that. Ick. It was suggested to me to buy a silicone one, so I found one today at a cheap import store. Tried it today and it did have a particular ‘flaccid’ quality. A bit wobbly, but being the classy lady I am, I worked with what I had. Dinner was still satisfying.

ibstubro's avatar

I have some suede potholders that are the best I’ve had, @msh. I have a silicone pot holder I never use because (duh) they don’t give you a firm grip on a hot dish, and they seem to conduct heat faster than even the insulated cloth holders. Look for one at a 2nd hand store or yard sale before you buy new, IMO.

Yes, I’ve seen the little bonnets, but not used them, @Buttonstc. I have all sizes of glass baking and storing dishes with plastic reusable covers. I never nuke the covers, so they last a very long time. Additionally (if you can imagine this), I’ve managed to buy a number of lids that got displaced from their glass bottoms. If a plastic lid says “Pyrex” on the top and it’s a dime, I’m on it!

This might be a good set for you, @JLeslie. I have most of them, and none are too big. Or have you considered glass jars with plastic lids? You might also find recyclable cardboard leftover containers he wouldn’t have to bring home?

The better ones are molded around a metal core, classy @cazzie, although I’ve yet to find a satisfactory silicone spatula.

msh's avatar

@ibstubro – gotcha. Thank you! I wondered. They’re $, good idea to look. Suede- excellent idea- never would’ve thought of that! Thank you, Sir! :)

ibstubro's avatar

I don’t know where mine came from, and I can’t find them online, @msh. They have “gg” on them and they’re red and black. I bought them somewhere (broken record) really cheap years ago, and they’re my ‘go to’ potholders.

The ones I found online were expensive.
If you know someone that can sew suede you could probably make some out of a second hand suede jacket. About a 7” square sewn onto an 8” square. No hem because non-ravel.

msh's avatar

I’m glad you said that! You are smart and psychic! No ravel to deal with. My poor oven mitts are seared, torn, and yes, unraveling. Plus they get so hot, so fast, I sometimes put my hands under cold water after using them. Donna Reed and Betty Crocker would be so disappointed.
Thank you again. I do appreciate the info @ibstubro.

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro Those are the sizes I have.

Stinley's avatar

I have some welding gloves that I use for my wood burning stove. They seem pretty heat resistant and would work well as oven gloves too. They are a stylish red suede.

ibstubro's avatar

There you go, @msh!
Look for @Stinley‘s stylish welding gloves.

Stinley's avatar

@msh @ibstubro you both realise I don’t actually do welding?

ibstubro's avatar

Yeah, @Stinley. You have leather welding gloves you use around your wood stove.
It looks to me like you can buy them cheaper than suede potholders. Dunno about red?

msh's avatar

I wore welding gloves while doing welding work with kids in that Voc Area at school. I had forgotten about those. Hhmmm.
Now sayyyy, the welding mask might look good with the ensemble also.
I needed it when a recipe went wayyyy wrong inside the oven once.
Ick, what a mess! But pretty funny.
Wait! You’ve got red? I want red ones!
That is a smart idea…
You both are gooood!
Thank you! :)

roboticvacs's avatar

I’m a huge technology buff but I believe that all natural things are better than plastics and silicones, etc. I still do a lot of cooking with my iron skillet and there’s nothing that comes close to it when it comes to flavor.

ibstubro's avatar

I have my great grandmother’s cast iron dutch oven, @roboticvacs, and I’m sorry I never learned how to use it before she was gone. I ate a lot of potatoes fried in it!

I’ve not liked the silicone bakeware, but I surely do like my non-stick cookware. It’s come a long way from the old Teflon days, and I hope they perfect it in my lifetime.

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