Safe silicone!

Despite many magical qualities, silicone is not Teflon. (In light of some questions about Teflon’s safety, this can be seen as a plus.) It is also not all things to all people: like glass and aluminum, stainless steel and cast iron, it is the best choice for some tasks in the kitchen and not for others. Used as a potholder or as a baking surface for cookies, it has no equal. Used to peel garlic or to squeeze lemons, it is unclear why anyone would bother.

The universally appealing qualities of silicone are its heat resistance; its flexibility, which allows you to fold it, flatten it and squish it into a drawer; its ease of washing; and its ability to go from oven or microwave to refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher (in most cases) and sometimes even to the dinner table, cutting down on the number and kinds of containers you need.

It is also, in its own way, environmentally friendly. The assorted lids, some of which quite conveniently form a vacuum when pressed down on a pot or a bowl, can be used again and again, saving on plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Silicone baking mats have slicker surfaces than silicone bakeware and are unbeatable at keeping pastries from sticking. The sheets eliminate the need for parchment paper.

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