The complete guide to glass baking dishes
For many people, bakeware is just it. As long as you can place it in the oven and cook on high heat, the dish can be used for baking. However, it’s not as easy as it seems. Bakeware is more complex that many of us thing: there are many different baking sheets, casserole pans and muffin tins that all perform differently. There is also a colossal different between metal and glass bakeware which can alter the way you bake your food.
So before you take your glass dish or overused sheet, consider quality bakeware sets – they change the way your food tastes to the better. And they make cleaning much easier, too!
Different Rules for Different Bakeware
Baking isn’t as simple as just combining the ingredients, slapping them into a pan and placing in the oven. Baking proves that cooking is an art and science and your skills and knowledge can make food taste much better. The ingredients react with each other during baking, but they also react with the material you choose to cook them in.
One thing many of us forget is how their baking dish changes the taste of foods. Metal baking dishes and glassware will result in different outcomes. These materials have different properties and alter everything from cooking times to the smell.
Before you buy a bakeware set, there are several things to consider. Most importantly, you should check the recipe. Most of them usually specify what kind of bakeware should be used. If there are no specific instructions, you should check the baking temperature. For example, most dishes cannot handle high temperatures and will shutter in the oven. If the recipe tells you to cook at 500F for 10 minutes, most glass bakeware aren’t the option.
Your bakeware choice should also depend on what you’re going to cook. Different materials heat up faster than others, so you should know whether you want your food to be crisp and brown or nicely cooked through. If you have several bakeware sets and know how each of them performs when you place them in the oven, you can choose the right dish without worrying how the recipe will come out.
Glass: The Even Heater
If you choose only one bakeware set, you should opt for a glass dish. It’s a traditional, sturdy material that is suitable for almost all recipes. It cooks foods evenly and preserves the heat really well.
Unlike other materials, glass is a bad heat conductor. It means that it takes time to heat up and struggles to adjust to temperature changes. It means that you can place cooked foods on a table and it will stay warm for hours. However, it can shatter if subjected to a sudden heat decrease. Glass is perfect when you want your food to have a constant temperature.
Glass is a great insulator and it remains warm for hours. Your baked food will be warm even after letting it sit on a table. Glass can get very hot after baking. Some chefs recommend that you remove the dish earlier if you use glass bakeware for a recipe that uses metal bakeware. Glass dish will cook your food faster than the recipe states. You can even finish cooking foods on the table, just with the preserved heat.
Thermal shock is a thing with glass bakeware
Thermal shock is a situation when glass undergoes sudden temperature changes. It results in shipping and cracking of the dish. Thermal shock can be a health hazard, so here are a few things to learn about glass bakeware:
- Don’t add cold liquids to a hot dish.
- Don’t place hot glassware into a dishwasher.
- Don’t place hot dish into countertops. Use a kitchen towel, an oven mitt or a pot holder.
- Don’t place the dish directly to the oven from a freezer.
Can I cook with glass bakeware in a convection oven?
Glass is one of the best materials to use in a convection oven. It is just like a traditional oven in almost everything, the difference is that the air is circulating actively. In other ovens, air circulation happens naturally. You should check the instructions though, because thinner glass can crack in the oven.
Also, you should only use the right glass for the right recipes: glass ceramic known as Pyroceram should be used under the broiler, and borosilicate glass (known as Pyrex) can be used under high temperature. Soda glass can’t handle broiler head. Always read the instructions that come with bakeware because many of the sets have “no broiler” sign printed on them.
If your glassware isn’t suitable for a broiler, always preheat the oven to the temperature specified in the recipe before putting the dish in.
Some people wonder why so many glass manufacturers state their material can only reach peak performance in one or two axis: thermal shock, chemical or mechanical resistance. If you want to maximize one, you have to compromise the others. So, traditional glassware is usually very thick and resistant to thermal shock, but it breaks faster and people complain about scratch marks on the surface. The newer material, which is soda glass, can tolerate mechanical shocks, which helps it survive small bumps against the countertop. However, the resistance to temperature changes is much lower. Usually, soda glass can only handle up to 350F.
To be more precise, modern glass can resist some thermal shocks (for example, going from the fridge directly to the oven) but the resistance to down-shocks such as going out of the oven to cold water is very low or completely non-existent. Moreover, you should always inspect glass before using it – small crack will break when subjected to thermal shock.
This is why you should switch from plastic to glass.
Plastic is the cheapest and most popular material, but you should refrain from using it. Once you know about the benefits of glass storage, you’ll come around from the side of Ziplock bags and plastic tubs.
There are many reasons why glass is better than plastic, both in emotional on rational areas. Among its many advantages, I’d like to mention the most important ones:
- Glass looks better. Even though the beauty is the least rational reason to buy glass containers, esthetics is one of the most obvious reasons to make the change. Glass is more substantial looking and prettier than plastic containers. Maybe you will feel nostalgic when you use colorful Pyrex nesting bowls. A beautiful glass dish is a pleasure to the senses, and eating from a glass container is much more enjoyable. I would never put a plastic container with food on my dinner table. But I often use my glass casserole dish for recipes and then place it on the table – even for guests and special events. Glass containers keep their attractiveness for many years. Unlike plastic dishes, glass has a non-porous surface that doesn’t absorb colors or dyers. Today you can store your delicious Bolognese and tomorrow you put whipped cream with juicy berries – with no fear of any odors or greasy stains.
- Make foods more flavorful. Ever notice how marinara and milk from your grocer tastes better when packed in glass. The same method works for home-stored food. It tastes cleaner, fresher and fuller stored in glass containers. Glass has a glossy, safe surface that repels flavors and odors. You can safely reheat the food in glass – whether microwave or in an oven – it will always taste better compared to reheating to plastic. Plastic has a greenhouse effect, which makes the food more watery and soupy. If you want to retain crisp and crunch, you need glass containers.
- Food preparation, serving and cleaning is easier. I want to share with you several features of tempered glass food containers that I love:
- Can be quickly moved from freezer to stove to table.
- No food waste because containers let you see what’s inside and use up leftovers before they spoil.
- Let you check food as it reheats. The glass is clear and you can check what’s going on without removing lids.
- Let you wash-up faster. You can place a glass container in a dishwasher and cleanse at high temperatures.
- Preserves food. Some plastic, especially the cheapest one from China, contains harmful chemicals that transfer to food during heating. Toxins just migrate to foods. For example, scientists don’t advise to reheat foods in plastic containers for children, elderly and ill. There are still not enough research about the topic, so I’m concerned about my health. I’m sure scientists will duke it out. In the meantime, I choose to play safe and avoid using plastic containers. At least I know that glass is safe and contains no harmful chemicals. Glass is much cleaner than plastic. It has a non-porous surface that doesn’t absorb germs and foods. You can wash it at high temperatures to kill harmful bacteria.
- Helps the planet. You can reduce landfill by switching to glass containers. You will also safe energy on the recycling process of plastic. Once you get a quality glass container, you supply stays steady. You don’t need to replace it or buy a new one every year. With proper care, it will serve you for years to come. If something happens and you break the container, you can recycle it:
- Almost 80% of glass can be reclaimed.
- It takes 40% less of energy to recycle glass compared to plastic.
- Recycling doesn’t change the glass structure or quality. No chemicals are produced during the process.
Your investment in glass helps to shift from a throw-away mindset to a sustainable sensibility. Glass contains no harmful chemicals and preserves food better. At the very end, it just looks fancier on a dinner table.
How to care for glass kitchenware
If you want to pour a hot drink, make sure to use a heat-resistant container. These glasses can be used in a microwave. All other glass containers are for cold foods and drinks only and shouldn’t be used for anything else. Always read the instructions before using a glass dish.
Pitches, stemware, jugs, dessert bowls, mugs and other objects with glass have different thickness. Some of them should be hand washed and others are dishwasher-safe. I recommend hand wash only. To clean thinner glass you should use a dish washing detergent and a wet cloth. Rinse well and leave to dry. You can dry glass dished with a soft cloth.
Scrubbing glass dish is a bad idea because abrasive powder and pads spoil the coating and leave marks. The burning lens situation can damage surfaces and objects close to the glass dish. You can easily avoid it by not leaving thick glass or vases filled with water in sunlight. If your glass has a color, you can place it anywhere you want.
The glass is very clear and high-quality material. It has great resistance to mechanical and chemical wear and tear. Most modern glasses can be washed in a dishwasher. You should always place glass dishes in the top rack so that they don’t touch other cookware or each other during the washing. Note that the surface of the glass will expand under high heat, so you shouldn’t stack glass dishes while warn. Wait for 10 minutes after the washing or they will stick together and crack.
Always preheat the oven for glass bakeware and heat-resistant containers.
When you preheat the oven, the gas burner or the heating element will be running at maximum power. For all electric oven owners, they can quickly generate a lot of radiant heat. Radiant heat increases the temperature of objects even more, without changing the temperature in the oven.
If you place your new glass dish in a cold oven and turn the heat on, the dish will be exposed to really high heat for almost 15 minutes. The air temperature in the oven will be cooler than the dish temperature, which will result in thermal shock.
When you place the glass dish in the preheated oven, it will be exposed to heat during the cooking cycles (your oven goes on and off to keep the temperature), but it will stay there for less time and the temperature changes won’t be so dramatic. Most modern glasses can handle small thermal stresses.
Once you know the right kinds of bakeware for your needs, you will always prepare glorious goodies. Treat yourself with completely cooked casseroles, browned muffins and bundt cakes. Half of the success depends on the choice of bakeware. The temperature at which you’re cooking is usually specified in the recipe anyways, and you will always get consistent results in terms of the taste, look and feel of your foods.