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JAZ

Silicone tools for the kitchen

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It seems as if every time I turn around, there's a new silicone tool for the kitchen. Used to be Silpats and expensive French silicone molds were all you saw. Then spatulas made their debut. Now, there are affordable baking pans for everything from madelaines to popovers, as well as potholders, oven mitts, pinch bowls, even "poach pods" for eggs.

I've tried quite a few of these items and have found that some work beautifully and some not so well.

I like Silpats and baking pans for candy work -- a square silicone cake pan is the best caramel mold ever, and I have several ice cube/candy molds that I use for chocolates. As far as I'm concerned, silicone is the best thing ever to happen to home candy making.

I like the spatulas and spoons as well, although I have had a couple of them crack, and the style with wood handles are a pain, I think. The pastry brushes are good for oiling pans and for marinades, but not so great for pastry work -- in my experience, the bristles aren't fine enough to get a nice even layer of egg wash or butter on pastry.

Potholders and oven mitts? Useless. They're too bulky and inflexible to grab anything securely, and they heat up fast -- I can't hold a hot cookie sheet long enough to get the cookies off. I still use the potholders as trivets occasionally, but that's it.

So, what silicone tools are your favorites? Any must-haves?

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I have heavy silicone oven mitts, and while they are very bulky (especially for my teeny tiny hands), I love them. I have no problems using them to take my Le Creuset pot out of the oven when I do no-knead bread. Taking cookies out without gouging one or two with the mitt, though, is another story...

I've always wanted the silicone ties, but one of the guys at Lee Valley said not to bother. They had so many returns of broken ties, that they were considering discontinuing the product.

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someone gave me mitts and I too use them as trivets, I have a friend who loves those little finger "clam" potholders in silicone.

I have tried silpats and prefer parchment. I hate to wash stuff.

I love silicone spatulas and spoonulas but only get the semi translucent color so I can tell when they get dirty where the wooden handles fit in. I have heard of people buying colored ones and being appalled when the end came off the handle to reveal mold (ugh).

I'll pass on all those silicone pans, but I might consider a silicone bowl for melting chocolate - it seems it would be nice to let the extra chocolate set up and be able to just peel the bowl off.

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JAZ -- I'm glad to know that I'm not the one who found the silicone potholders useless -- I couldn't believe how fast they heated up... I actually returned mine to the store, as there was no way I was going to keep that in the kitchen!

Thats really the only silicone produce I've tried... I just don't like the feel of them in my hand, so that's why I've stayed away, but it is good to hear they are useful in candy making...

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I have a couple of Chef'n silicone spats along with a couple of Traex spats that have been though several restaurant tours and I love'em. The brushes are meh, especially the Le Crueset, however, the Batali branded and OXO brushes are getting better.

I am fond of the various silicone molds as well, excellent for chocolate.

As far as the hot pads and oven mitts, I used to not care for them. They were stiff and hard to manipulate. Recently I have found some grid style silicone hot pads made by SiliconeZone that are very pliable and actually work.


Gear nerd and hash slinger

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I use the silicone spatulas all the time. They're especially handy for cooking ice cream custard base. Once I could scrape the bottom of the pot thoroughly, I stopped losing ice cream base to overheating and curdling.

But forget about those silicone mitts. One day I was assisting at a cooking class, and I pulled a big creme brulee custard out of the oven. The da-n mitts came off my hands! I managed to drop the custard onto the nearest stovetop, so it didn't hit the floor, but the top of that beautiful custard cracked into fissures. Right in front of a full demo class, of course. No silicon mitts for me from that day on.

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Favourite utensil: Chef'n double ender; Large square 'spoonula' on one end & small spatula on the other. With a metal spine entirely encapsulated in one piece of silicone there are no grubby little corners.

Favourite non-utensil: Budget price muffin-tray cut up into six 'pinch bowls'. They do everything from holding small mis to capping that leftover half lemon to freezing left overs. Rigid enough to pick up full, flexible enough to squeeze to form a pour spout.

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I've always wanted the silicone ties, but one of the guys at Lee Valley said not to bother.  They had so many returns of broken ties, that they were considering discontinuing the product.

I can't tell you how confused I was when I read this: I was picturing a men's necktie made of silicone. :laugh: Maybe you could use it like an oven mitt or towel for grabbing hot pans from the stove. Or at least, it wouldn't light on fire when you leaned over the stove. Fashionable and functional: I want one! Imagine my disappointment when I discovered what you really meant...


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I like the brushes but agree they're useless for pastry work, so I saved out one of my bristle brushes for that, and for sealing pierogies and such. I also have, and like, Silpats and the pinch bowls. I have a couple of the spatula/spoonulas, and the ones I use most are the ones with a wooden handle, but I can pull the silicone "head" off for cleaning. I have one of the one piece spatulas, and while I love the concept, it's weighted oddly, so it always flops out of the pan, and lands on the floor. Where of course it makes a huge mess. Fortunately, the doggies happily police the floor.

I've avoided the "flipper" type spatulas (turners I guess is maybe the correct term) because they don't look sturdy enough to me to do the job. And the mitts/gloves always struck me from the get-go as clumsy looking, so I was never tempted. Oh, and I have a collapsable funnel that I've used like twice. I wanted it, and then keep forgetting I have it. I guess because it stores away so well !! LOL.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Favourite utensil: Chef'n double ender; Large square 'spoonula' on one end & small spatula on the other. With a metal spine entirely encapsulated in one piece of silicone there are no grubby little corners. ...

I was initially entranced by the qualities of a wooden-handled silicone-bladed spatula.

But thinking of hygiene made me wince every time the 'joint' was submerged in the food. (I still use a really narrow version for scraping out jamjars!)

So I adopted something rather like Derek's.

Its a single piece of icy translucent white silicone - with a stiffening metal spine fully encapsulated in the silicone. So no hygiene worries.

It has slightly flexy blades at both ends (slightly angled to the central axis), and yet its stiff and robust in the mid-section. Its maybe 1" wide at one end, 2" at the other.

Its a brilliant tool.

I'd love to have a few other (differently shaped/sized) similarly-constructed tools. But I've not found them. Yet.

My stick spatula came from Lakeland (a UK kitchen store). Its a splendid "spirtle" :smile:


Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I like the spatulas and the oven mits.

The mits sit in a drawer most of the time, but when I roast at 500+ degrees they're the only thing that works. I've singed cotton, melted microfiber, and burned myself through three layers of side towel. Even with the mits, if the roasting pan is heavy and hot you gotta move fast!


Notes from the underbelly

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I like the spatulas and the oven mits.

The mits sit in a drawer most of the time, but when I roast at 500+ degrees they're the only thing that works. I've singed cotton, melted microfiber, and burned myself through three layers of side towel. Even with the mits, if the roasting pan is heavy and hot you gotta move fast!

One of my favorite things about silicone pot holders & mitts is that I can wash them so easily. How often do we end up sticking an oven mitt right into whatever food stuff we're handling, and if they are not silicone, you're stuck with food goop until laundry day, at the least. And judging by some of the oven mitts I've seen at peoples houses, a lot of don't ever get washed. With my silicone pot holders & mitts, I can wash them in the sink, dry them off and go back to using a clean mitt in a matter of minutes. Maybe I'm OCD, but I especially like to be able to wash the inside of my oven mitts- I hate to think what all might be inside some of those cloth mitts people have.

I also like that silicone gives more grip, since I don't have the best hand strength. There are many pans I would have dropped if I tried handling them with a typical mitt. I grab my silicone mitts for opening jars or other jobs where I need a good grip.

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Favourite non-utensil: Budget price muffin-tray cut up into six 'pinch bowls'. They do everything from holding small mis to capping that leftover half lemon to freezing left overs. Rigid enough to pick up full, flexible enough to squeeze to form a pour spout.

I :wub: you- I've been wanting some of those silicone pinch bowls for a while, but I have a couple extra silicone cupcake pans that will work perfectly. They came in a 9x13" silicone cake pan I bought for a couple bucks at GoodWill, which has turned out to be the most perfect pan for making marshmallows in, since they don't stick to the silicone. I'm on the lookout for another large silicone cake pan, so I can make larger batches of marshmallows or make my currant size batch shorter, as sometimes they turn out to be 2 1/2-3" thick.

I've cut up some of those rubbery silicone baking mats to use for various things, especially since I now have almost enough Silpats for all my 1/4 & 1/2 sized sheet pans. I've been tempted to try to cut a new gasket for my Oster blender out of some of the silicone stuff- I have a lot of extra carafes for my blender, but the rubber gaskets don't hold up very well.

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We use silicone spatulas, silpats and a mold for muffins, all work fine. I don't like the silicone mitt someone gave me and basically it is just a trivet. Burt no one mentioned silicone "rubber bands". We use these instead of butcher twine and find it much easier for roasted chickens and rollups.

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I love my silicone mitts. I don't do any pastry baking to speak of so that is an area I have no clue about. However, for hefting a hot 16 quart stock pot filled with just-off-the-boil liquid and walking to the other end of the kitchen my mitts rock. The other people I do my volunteer cooking with also like them. We even nicknamed them the lobster claws (mine are bright red).

I just had to have some silicone muffin pans when I first saw them. Bought them 3 or 4 years ago and still have not used them nor has my sweet wife. We do use silicone spatulas and don't bother purchasing any other kind anymore.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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I'd love to have a few other (differently shaped/sized) similarly-constructed tools. But I've not found them. Yet.

You could try Chef'n spatulas at Amazon - they carry some, although not the entire range we get locally [Canada]. Particularly they are not showing the 'square edged spoonula' of which I'm so fond.

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I also use a baking pan for caramels and fudgy brownies. I use silicon ice cube trays to freeze 1 ounce portions of stock and find it so much easier to release the frozen cubes then regular plastic trays. I have a silicon coated whisk that is wonderful for non-stick pans or sticky sauces like caramel.

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I have quite a few silicone spatulas plus lots of other silicone "stuff" including the poaching pockets mentioned above, which I can't find at the moment.

Here are the ones that come easily to hand. I do not have any with wooden handles.

The blue "Flipper" scimitar-shaped thingy is new, a belated holiday gift.

gallery_17399_60_9330.jpg

And a few of the other things. I have two sets of the collapsable measuring cups also a standing colander.

I just got the collapsable microwave cover.

gallery_17399_60_161639.jpg

I also have various baking pans, molds, but don't use them as much as I thought I would.

I have several Silpat and other branded mats and etc.

I did not like the silicone mitts, they were too awkward for me to use. I have several pair of the Nomex gloves made in England, much heavier than the "Ove glove" and I can pick up a very hot cast iron pan right off the barbecue and carry it into the kitchen without my hands getting too hot. They aren't proof against wet stuff or steam, but I have other ways of handling wet stuff.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I'd love to have a few other (differently shaped/sized) similarly-constructed tools. But I've not found them. Yet.

You could try Chef'n spatulas at Amazon - they carry some, although not the entire range we get locally [Canada]. Particularly they are not showing the 'square edged spoonula' of which I'm so fond.

Many thanks for that.

I wasn't aware that the brand was distributed over here.

Looks like my "Lakeland" one is a "Switchit dual ended spatula - small frost" by Chef'n !!


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I have and love silicone spatulas of varying sizes, shapes, and colors. PINCHBOWLS are great! Microwave cover is very useful. Still experimenting with cake pans--haven't really found a reason to prefer them, but I keep trying.

I also have cupcake and mini-cupcake "papers" which I thought would be wonderful. They're great for filling with batter--don't tip over, don't collapse in--but only okay for cupcake removal. The worst part, though, is washing them.

I made some cupcakes for friends and didn't get back all of the (what are they called--molds?) silicone papers. I mentioned to Mr. Care that we should keep an eye out for more on sale and he immediately vetoed that idea. He says that they're incredibly fussy to clean; since he does 99% of the handwashing (and, of course, is the best husband in the world), I'm swearing off silicone cupcake things.


Life is short. Eat the roasted cauliflower first.

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I never use my silicone mitt or most of the potholders I've tried precisely because they're so stiff. However, I've been quite happy with the "The Grid" Silicone Pot Holders I got at Sur La Table. They're as flexible as regular cotton potholders.

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I like my silicone whisk for making sauces in non-stick pans. Also, the silicone bulb on the turkey baster doesn't subcumb to the heat as quickly as the old rubber ones did.


KathyM

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I got a silicone madeleine pan as a gift, and unless you like madeleines with almost gooey bottoms, fey. But, it makes a nice paint tray -- the dried paint just peels right off!

I love the chefn spatula thing mentioned up-topic. I love that it is double ended, allowing one to get the last bits out of a narrow jar, and I love that it is one-piece, so you don't end up with the crap between the wooden handle and the spatula itself.

Oh, and the oven mitts. Get some yarn, nail polish, sharpee market and some gorilla glue and make it into a puppet for a little kid's gift! The only time I've found those valuable is in moving a piece of meat on the smoker because they don't wick up the juice.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I never use my silicone mitt or most of the potholders I've tried precisely because they're so stiff. However, I've been quite happy with the "The Grid" Silicone Pot Holders I got at Sur La Table. They're as flexible as regular cotton potholders.

The potholders are great for making your counter non-skid. Put one or two on the counter and any cutting board, mixing bowl or sheet pan stays put.

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