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Silicone & Chips

Silicone used to just go with computer chips but now it goes with oven chips too!

26th September 2006 15:05
Silicone is everywhere in our kitchen right now, we have silicone moulds for ice creams and ice lollys, silicone ice trays, silicone basting brushes and, yes, even a silicone spatula I use to serve up chips.

But what happened? All these things used to be made from plastic and stainless steel, why do we now use silicone?

I decided to look into this quiet change in the materials that make up my kitchen. The first thing I discovered was that I was confusing silicon with silicone. It is crystal silicon that is in computer chips, but what has been making its way into my kitchen is its plastic-like derivative silicone.

You will note I haven?t let that fact ruin an otherwise perfectly good opening pun.

One obvious benefit of using a silicone is its heat resistance. Although silicone may look like plastic or rubber, it has a very high melting point. Silicone utensils can be used to stir extremely hot mixtures or remove food directly from roasting or frying pans. Accidental exposure to heat can permanently damage rubber or plastic kitchen utensils, but a silicone spatula head won't become chipped or warped.

Not only is silicone heat resistant but it also maintains its flexibility at freezing temperatures. So popping ice out of a silicone ice tray doesn?t require all that banging and twisting you have to do with a brittle, stiff plastic tray. Perfect ice cubes just pop out neatly one by one.

Another benefit of a silicone is its safety around other cookware. Unlike metal utensils, silicone will not damage teflon or other non-stick coatings. A metal pot or pan could be ruined by a melting rubber or plastic utensil, but silicone will not scorch or melt at normal cooking temperatures. Silicone is also soft and pliable, which means it will maintain its original shape.

Silicone also outdoes wood and plastic utensils when it comes to durability and hygiene. It won?t crack or peel affording germs a cosy hiding place, nor will it absorb smells or stains. However it is still perfectly dishwasher safe.

And on top of all of the practical reasons to use silicone comes the fun one: colour! No more predictable choice of black, white and brown. Now you can match your spatula to your red kitchen curtains, colour co-ordinate your ice tray with your pink party dress, or just brighten up your cooking life with a bright yellow basting brush!

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