Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Baking, babies and boob jobs

I am a sucker for kitchen gadgets. I have a kitchen full of them. Amita came home with a ‘garlic roller’ from town. It is a little tube of silicone, open at each end, that you pop garlic cloves into, roll them around and then hey presto! Peeled garlic, not squashed and no waste. Brilliant!
But here we are again, back to the silicone debate.
There is no doubt that silicone is a marvellous substance. In its various forms we can: glue the aquarium, clothe our mobile phones with it, bake in it and enhance our breasts with it if we are so inclined. Teats for babies bottles  and toys are now being made from it too. It has uses in medicine, electronics and engineering, and it is long lasting and odour and stain repellent (there is some debate about both these issues though.) Its flexibility worries me – surely it needs to stand on a normal metal tray to get safely in and out of the oven?

It does come in many pretty colours (are these food safe too?) and there is no doubt that it is light, durable and long lasting and makes the best juggling balls. Does that make you want to bake with it?
It is claimed too that although it is not biodegradable, it is recyclable after a long life of use, though not in Australia.
One safety issue regarding silicone cookware is that the cheaper items may contain fillers. This will not appear on the label and could be any type of plastic. One hint I have read is that if you twist the item and white shows up in the bend, the item could contain filler.
On the net, most of the research parrots a report published in May this year from the FDA (US) in Scientific  American. The pros are outlined but basically, any good research on the down side is yet to be published even though the product has been around since 1979. I was concerned to see that the recommended maximum temperatures for use varied from 300 to 482 degrees Centigrade! Apparently this varies with each manufacturer and is marked on the packaging. But who keeps the paper wrappers for every item in their kitchen?
I think we all need to choose for ourselves. My spatulas show no signs of wear although I use them regularly on my Thermomix, where they outperform the original scraper which is now pitted and worn from its contact with the blades. They are not stained after a year of intense use including curry making and have no melted parts although I have snapped the plastic handle of one of them mixing a heavy loaf. The brush is a nuisance, I will return to natural bristles which work well and are about the same to keep clean. The brush has also become stained with use so I suspect it is of the 'cheap and nasty' variety. 

I boughta silicone baking sheet today but it won’t be going in the oven. I am going to try and de-hull roasted nuts and cooked broad beans with it.
Check out the links and decide for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nirala

    I have just spent some time reading your blog. Great work and fun to read! I will definately come back for more.

    Love Anudhara


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