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Silicone Baking Mats--Yes or No?

 
gardener
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I have never used a silicone baking mat for two main reasons:

1. The cost.
2. My cookie sheets are different sizes, so I doubt one mat will work for all of them.

However, I'm beginning to dislike the recurring cost of parchment paper. Although I am often able to reuse the paper once or twice, it still gets inevitably put in the garbage.

I have a few questions for those here to do use, or have in the past used, silicone baking mats:

1. Do you like them?
2. Do you feel like they retain the smell of dish detergent? (I have a few silicone spatulas/scrapers that keep a soapy odor.)
3. How long have you had them, aka: are they worth the cost?

Thanks.

Edited to add that I read the following post and found it quite informative: https://permies.com/t/33896/Silicone-toxic

However, I only have 1 stainless steel cookie sheet, 1muffin pan, and 1 bread loaf pan. And I  do a LOT of baking. The various other baking dishes I use are aluminum (which I ALWAYS use parchement for), glass, and cast iron.

So I guess my question 4: In your opinion, is reusable silicone or throw-away parchment paper the lesser of two evils?
 
gardener
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I have a couple silicone baking mats my mom gave me and I used them a bit, but always felt suspicious about whether they were really safe. Partly cause they were cheap ones and it seems like there can be a lot of other unlisted things in products that say they're silicone.
I found them difficult to wash and get fully dry. They ended up getting mold on them for that reason and so I quit using them. Don't remember about the soap odor issue.
I usually use parchment paper. The kind I have presently is compostable and I suspect many of them would be. I just feel safer using that than the silicone.
 
pollinator
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Heather Sharpe wrote:The kind I have presently is compostable and I suspect many of them would be. I just feel safer using that than the silicone.



This, mine also states you can compost it. I have silicone mats for rolling things out on and they are most certainly worth it if you have limited or bad counter tops. They are hard to clean but don't seem to absorb soap, I also have a couple of slices and a frying pan with that nasty habit.
 
pollinator
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i bake with silicone mats that are designed for use on the bbq. Some are so large that they have to be cut in half to fit the various baking trays that we have. They get washed in hot soapy water, scrubbed if necessary and wiped with a tea towel before rolling up and storing in the drawer. Fortunately have never encountered any mould issues nor residual food or grease smells.
 
gardener
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I live in a place where parchment paper is not easily found (everyone always suggests our local alternative, wax paper, which is hilarious as well as tragic when you're trying to bake). I bring it in my suitcase and try to get as many uses from it as possible.
In the meantime, I have 3 silicone mats in 2 different sizes, so all of my pans have one that fits, and I love, love, love them.

1 -yes
2- no, not at all.
3 - yes, worth it- mine are at least 7 years old (the smaller one is maybe 10) and I use the heck out of them.
I DO NOT use them on the oven floor or under the broiler, and I don't use them for things that get screaming hot.
I feel like they were a great investment.
 
master steward
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Stacie, my silicone baking mat is about 10 years old, maybe a little less.

I also have 3 silicone spatulas which I am very happy with.

I don't wash mine with soap.  Just hot water.

I have never noticed any smells.

I also reuse parchment paper of which I am not sure this is any safer or more toxic than the silicone baking mat since that is what I thought parchment paper was made from.

My baking mat was part of a set with cake pans and a muffin pan.  I really am not fond of the cake pan as I seems flimsy.
 
pollinator
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I think it depends on the quality.

I don't have baking mats, but I do have silicone muffin pans and some silicone baking cups. The muffin pans were the cheap kind, found at a thrift store. I bought them for freezing things in, and possibly to use as candy molds. My Mom was trying to be supportive and used one to bake with right away. The pan didn't melt or anything, but it made the entire house smell like burning plastic! That one got thrown away, and the rest are restricted to non-baking uses.

The baking cups were higher quality, bought from the King Arthur catalog. I wanted those because I liked the texture my popovers developed when the pan wasn't greased, but they were also very hard to get out of the pan that way. The baking cups work really well, never any problems or weird smells. If I decide to buy a baking mat, it will probably be from King Arthur, because they seem to know what they're doing.
 
Stacie Kim
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I like King Arthur as well. Thank you for the suggestion! I might try one to see how I like it. If I don't like it for baking, I'm sure I'll be able to find another use for it. And note to self: don't use soap!
 
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1. Yes, I like them.
2. Haven't had trouble, but (like others) tend not to use soap on them. It's really not necessary.
3. My wife brought them into the marriage, 13 years ago. They're all still in fine shape, some used more than others. (I was a parchment guy, didn't actually know about silicone mats. I've come to like them; less hassle, one fewer consumable to have to keep stocked up on).

In our experience the one thing they don't handle that well is dry flour at very high temperatures. We've baked (floured on top) bread on one of them, 480F before dropping down lower, and dry flour that fell on the silicone never really come off. Weird. Don't know if it was the temperature or the flour. No trouble with cookies, muffins, croissants, savoury stuff otherwise.

As context, I don't worry overmuch about toxicity of things judged food-safe by the powers-that-be. I'm not saying this to start a fight, and I am fully supportive of people making their own choices what to avoid based on their personal risk tolerance; I'm just writing it here to explain that I haven't investigated this direction any further, and so my "vote" should not count if this is something concerning to you.
 
pollinator
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I almost never use parchment or baking mats.  The exception would be for meringues or similar low-fat egg white based pastries.  Anything else and a thin coating of oil does well enough.

I do have a silicone Bundt pan which works well and is much easier to get the cake out in one piece than a metal pan.
 
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Yes yes yes BUT only if you cook without oil. I use them for veggies that are seasoned with Tahiti and spices. Don't recommend them for any meat as they get too greasy. But for no old foods or roasting nuts etc....they are amazing and so easy to clean. Never have to wash the pans.
 
pollinator
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I had some muffin pans that I threw out after a couple uses cause they got some weird white coating on the outside of the cups, like something was coming out of them or... I don't know. It creeped me out, though. I did have two baking mats that I used only for making crackers on. The recipe called for a thin batter to be poured on the sheet and scored partway through baking so a silicone mat was the only thing that would work. I lik d them for that application and never noticed any weirdness. The mats never came in contact with oil. Maybe that made a difference. They only ever needed a wipe with a dry cloth to clean.

I only used parchment paper if I was making something reeeaaally delicate. A greased pan has always been enough for me. I only had one good baking sheet, too, so I'd let whatever was on it cool a minute or two outside before taking it off and then plop the next batch on. It worked fine for me.

This is all past tense cause it's been a few years since I've had an oven :(
 
master steward & author
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So I haven't tried a silicone baking anything yet.  But it would be interesting to see how it behaves.  There are some good questions here.  

As for parchment paper
- fire starter
- composts nicely
- chick house liner
 
pioneer
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Whether to use silicone bake-ware or paper, the Jury is still out. Green Growing (https://www.greenandgrowing.org/silicone-cookware-safe-facts/) says that Bottom Line "So is silicone cookware safe? The most honest answer is that it’s too soon to tell."  The other issues are the dyes, fillers and strengthening additives may impact the overall safety of the product.  And there is no information that I could find on the heating effects of silicone rather than silicon which is the name of the element that silicone is manufactured from.
As for baking paper, parchment or however your non-stick product is described, it is likely to be an acid washed cellulose product that may or may not have  further additives such as silicone coatings or mineral (read petro-chemical) waxes.

Our solution is to use the baking paper that is as best as we can find, just an acid washed paper and then use it for as many times as we can get away with - until it is brown and crispy.  It then gets rolled up and scrunched into toilet (Dunny, Bathroom, little room) roll cardboard  and these are soaked in left over cooking oil and fat to start our BBQ and winter fires.  Works every time.

But where possible, we use grandma's steel baking trays that are well used and have a really good non-stick surface from years of use. We just grease and flour the tray for most things.  High sugar content things like jam do tend to stick.  The trick is not to use harsh abrasives to clean them, give them a wash in hot water and stand aside to dry. Some of the trays actually look black and shiny, a bit like a good cast iron pot.

Answer to the question put - try not to use either if possible.  Wait for the research on silicone unless you want to be a test subject.
Happy baking
 
r ranson
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Paul Fookes wrote: The trick is not to use harsh abrasives to clean them



I give you an apple for this!!!

YES!!!

This advise goes for most kitchen anything (except cast iron).  
 
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Skandi Rogers wrote:

Heather Sharpe wrote:The kind I have presently is compostable and I suspect many of them would be. I just feel safer using that than the silicone.



This, mine also states you can compost it. I have silicone mats for rolling things out on and they are most certainly worth it if you have limited or bad counter tops. They are hard to clean but don't seem to absorb soap, I also have a couple of slices and a frying pan with that nasty habit.



Just lending another vote to compostable parchment paper. I greatly prefer it over silicon mats (I find them annoying to clean), and it breaks down super fast in my compost. I use the "If You Care" brand.
 
pollinator
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Mk Neal wrote:I almost never use parchment or baking mats.  The exception would be for meringues or similar low-fat egg white based pastries.  Anything else and a thin coating of oil does well enough.

I do have a silicone Bundt pan which works well and is much easier to get the cake out in one piece than a metal pan.



Same here!
 
Lisa Brunette
pollinator
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I use silicone freezer bags, and they are GREAT. But I never cook anything with them, or even put them in the microwave. Strictly for storing food in the fridge or freezer.
 
pollinator
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I have numerous silicone baking mats and I love them. Long ago, I decided that my baking ware needs to be standardized, so I only use half-sheet pans, or quarter sheet pans. The silicone mats are typically made for these commercial sizes, so are pre-cut parchment sheets, which I also use. Mostly I use them for baking pretzels or bagels, most things don't need them at all.

As far as other silicone cooking molds, the big up side is that they can go from oven to freezer, and the product is easily removable. Great for plated desserts.
 
pollinator
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I have one silicone mat and I use it mostly for fruit leather. Not because there's a problem using it for baking, but because I only have the one and I'm normally using more than one baking sheet, so I just grease them all. (Using a butter wrapper if there's one available).

The only thing I've ever used parchment paper for is lining fruit cake pans and making meringues, and I've switched the meringues to the dehydrator instead of the oven so use the fruit leather sheets for those. Like others have said, greased cookie sheets and baking pans develop a black patina over the years.
 
Megan Palmer
pollinator
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Kevin Wilson wrote:  The only thing I've ever used parchment paper for is lining fruit cake pans and making meringues, and I've switched the meringues to the dehydrator instead of the oven so use the fruit leather sheets for those.  



I would never have thought to cook meringues in the dehydrator, makes perfect sense though. What temperature do you use and for how long? Have you tried baking a pavlova in the dehydrator? Would love to see a photo of your next batch of dehydrator meringues.
 
pollinator
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Yes on silicone mats and a silicone rolling pin.   Have others and do use parchment but they are a great tool when I do need them.
 
r ranson
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Megan Palmer wrote:

Kevin Wilson wrote:  The only thing I've ever used parchment paper for is lining fruit cake pans and making meringues, and I've switched the meringues to the dehydrator instead of the oven so use the fruit leather sheets for those.  



I would never have thought to cook meringues in the dehydrator, makes perfect sense though. What temperature do you use and for how long? Have you tried baking a pavlova in the dehydrator? Would love to see a photo of your next batch of dehydrator meringues.



This sounds amazing.  So good it needs its own thread!
Please share the recipe https://permies.com/t/155384/kitchen/meringues-dehydrator  
 
pollinator
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1, Yes, I like them. If I use paper, I can only use it once (it always gets dirty, or burnt, or sloppy and wet). Silicon mats always stay in good shape and are washable. The silicon mat does not really fit my oven, it folds up at the sides. That isn't a problem.
2. I think it depends on the dish washing detergent. The one I have most of the time has no smell. At the moment I use another one, but I won't buy this one again, because I don't like the smell. So: use the dish detergent without smell!
3. They are definitely worth the cost. I did many years with one and it would still be in use if ... I hadn't used a knife on it. Never try to cut something while it is on the mat!
Buying paper every time will cost you much more! And produces waste.
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