Debra Lynn Dadd

Silicone baking mats vs parchment paper

QUESTION:

Why do you recommend silicone baking mats? Isn't cooking parchment safer?

POSTED BY S. T. :: IL USA :: 04/18/2006


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Cooking parchment also called parchment paper, kitchen parchment, greaseproof paper and cooking paper is a sheet of paper impregnated with silicone, which makes the paper grease- and moisture-resistant as well as relatively heat-resistant. It is commonly used to eliminate the need to grease baking pans--allowing, for example, repeated batches of cookies to be baked without regreasing the pans--and it can also be folded to make moisture-proof packages in which foods can cooked or steamed.

Parchment is made with bleached white and unbleached brown paper. Since the bleached paper might contain toxic dioxin, it's better to use the unbleached parchment paper if you use it.

Silicone baking sheets are a sheet of silicone that can be reused over and over again.

Silcone is safe to use for baking and cooking, whether impregnated in paper or in a sheet by itself. Silicones are made chemically by creating a "backbone" of silicon from common sand, the same stuff from which glass is made and oxygen molecules, a combination that does not occur in nature. Then various other synthetic molecules are added branching off of the main silicon-oxygen line to create hundreds of different silicones that range from liquids to rubbery solids. Though this is a completely manmade product, it is completely inert and will not transfer to foods more at Q&A: Is silicone cookware safe?.

I use both silicone baking sheets and parchment paper. I use my silicone baking sheets to line pans whenever I bake something which might stick. They have saved much time, effort and water from clean-up, and are much safer overall than using baking pans with other non-stick surfaces. I use parchment paper now only when I want to specifically use the cooking technique of baking in parchment, as when I make a recipe such as Fruits Baked in Parchment, or as a substitute for waxed paper waxed paper is covered with paraffin, a petrochemical wax.

The advantage I see to using silicone baking sheets over parchment is that they can be reused up to 2000 times. Though the mats cost more than parchment paper, there is a great savings overall. A box of unbleached parchment paper costs $5 and a silicone baking sheet costs $20, but a box of unbleached parchment paper will cover only 32 baking sheets, and a silicone baking mat will cover 2000 baking sheets. It would cost $310 to buy enough parchment paper to replace one silicone baking mat.

In addition, using the silicone baking mat over parchement paper saves a lot of trees. Paper food items cannot be made of recycled paper. So trees must be cut for every paper food service item. Silicone baking mats leave those trees standing.



Debra :-)


COMMENTS:

Hi Debra,

I got a recipe for cookies which said to use silpat, and bake the cookies for 18 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees. After 14 minutes I got a burnt smell from the oven and when I looked all the cookies were black on the bottom. Could you please let me know if there is something wrong I am doing and if I can use anything other than silpat. Also I noticed that when I use parchment paper in the oven smoke comes out of the oven.

thanks

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: I've used both silpat and parchment paper and this has never happened to me. If you are baking with the rack in the bottom rung, try moving it up to the center. Or contact the manufacturers and ask them this question. This is not typical.


POSTED BY LG :: ONTARIO CANADA :: 07/24/2007 6:03 PM


Another thing to check on is your oven temperature...most ovens are not accurate. My current oven is at least 10 degrees off, I've actually never owned an oven that had an accurate temperature gauge! I just use a store-bought oven thermometer that I put right inside the oven...and...another thing to check would be the elements...make sure that the top element hasn't burnt out...

POSTED BY SAMANTHA :: ONTARIO CANADA :: 01/14/2008 12:49 PM


I've tried cheap silicone sheets and had fumes and odors and threw them out - I haven't tried silpat sheets yet and here's why - I heard on another blog (greenerpenny) that silicone baking items often have additives that are not listed on the packaging - so you don't know what you're using. The thought is that the silicone itself is safe, but if they combined it with an unsafe material I'd never know it. Are there any ways of finding a truly safe silicone sheet or is it never for sure?

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: I've never seen a label on silicone, but I haven't looked at all of them. For any product, you can always call the manufacturer to get additional information. I read labels, look at websites, and call the manufacturer. They will give you a lot of information over the phone and by email that isn't on their website. I can just tell you that I have been using silpat brand silicone baking sheets for at least five years and have never had an odor. I am completely happy with them. And I also use unbleached parchment paper that has a silicone coating and have never had an odor or any type of problem with that either. These are not brightly colored, just plain.


POSTED BY KELLY :: NEW HAMPSHIRE USA :: 10/21/2008 8:48 AM


Thanks for the info on the safety of silicon baking mats. Another use is for freezing. i put the silicone baking sheets on a baking pan to freeze berries, bread, vegetables etc. They don't stick to the silicone and make everything easy to remove once frozen. I spread the berries out individually and then I vacuum pack in my foodsaver. Its easy then to remove only small amounts at a time as they are not stuck together. Then I reseal the vacuum bag before the remainder has an opportunity to thaw. You can do meat this way also.

POSTED BY IRD :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 10/23/2008 1:16 AM


If you like the parchment paper, you can order them in large sheets from restaurant/food suppliers on line, approx 1,000 per box, the cost is higher also (if memory serves, around $30-$60) but I split them with my Sister and Mother. Great deal and they last forever!

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: Be sure to get unbleached or oxygen-bleached parchment paper as chlorine-bleached paper can release toxic dioxin.


POSTED BY LISA B. :: ALABAMA USA :: 10/23/2008 1:21 AM


Thank you for being such an outstanding and enduring expert in non-toxic living arena of teaching. We have incorporated much of your reporting in a clinical setting and patients appreciate it.

POSTED BY ESTHER THALER :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 05/12/2009 7:29 AM


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