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When making use of the oven, it is incredibly important to make sure that you make use of oven-safe utensils, otherwise you might be in for an unfortunate discovery when you go to check on your baked food.
The question is, though, what exactly is an oven-safe utensil, and which kitchenwares count as utensils that you would be using in the oven?
Items that people use in the kitchen go by many, many different names for the same things. Between plates, bowls, and dishes and toward cutlery and utensils, it can be hard to determine what exactly would qualify as an oven-safe utensil, including both the dishes and pans that you put in the oven, and the tools you would use to take the object out.
The best way to go about making sure that your belongings are as safe for your oven-centric kitchen as possible is to invest in utensils that are designated as “oven-safe,” though keep in mind that even if a company declares their utensils safe for the oven, there are circumstances where they may not be as such.
There are several different types of oven-safe utensils that you will want to invest in for your kitchen. There will be pots, pans, and bowls as well as baking mats and liners for your oven, all of which will be looked at more in-depth in how they relate to your oven and what is safe to put in your oven.
What Should Not Go Near the Oven?
First things first, you should make sure that you are aware of what items should not have any place being used in or near the oven. This way, if any other utensils have significant portions that are made from these materials, you will know that you should try and keep them further away from the oven and only use them with the oven sparingly.
Naturally, wood should not be used in the oven. This applies to both treated woods and untreated woods, as both will not do well under the extremely high temperatures that ovens bring about.
Of course, wood that has not been treated to withstand kitchen heat sources should not be brought near those heat sources, unless you are using the wood for the explicit purpose of flavoring or fueling, otherwise you are simply creating a fire hazard. Untreated wood, as utensils, has no place in the kitchen and especially not in the oven.
Wood that has been treated is often meant to be used when mixing, serving, or scooping foods from one place to another and is not meant to withstand long periods of exposure to intense heat, such as what the oven brings.
Wooden mixing and serving spoons are treated so that they can handle the heat of the food you are working with, but will warp or split when exposed to the heat of the oven.
Additionally, plastics are a bit of a grey area when it comes to oven-safe kitchen utensils. Some plastics are designed to withstand heats, others aren’t, and some manufacturers may not be entirely certain on which ones are which.
If you are ever uncertain about plastics, you can choose one of two routes to take. You can either opt to save plastics as storage containers for the fridge or freezer to keep them away from the oven, or you can consider contacting the manufacturer to verify which products you have that are made of plastic are safe for the oven.
If you are purchasing oven utensils and you see that one is made from plastic, you can also opt to do some extra reading and check reviews of the product to make sure that it can hold up to the standards of your oven.
Typically, with plastics, beyond what the manufacturer says, it is best to use your judgment on whether or not you think the plastic would hold up to the heat.
Materials That Have Been Proven Safe for Ovens
People have been around for a long, long time, and even if ovens haven’t been around as long as people, people have been finding ways to create oven-like environments such as placing foods into a flame and in specific cooking containers.
Through this process, history has shown that there are certain materials that can naturally withstand the heat and environment of the oven, and even more intense circumstances than that, making them some of the best items to use for your oven utensils.
Two of the best examples of this are stoneware bowls and ceramics. Both of these have been historically shown to withstand far more than what most people leave their ovens at while helping to evenly cook the food to the perfect temperature.
The problem with stoneware is that it has some specific cleaning instructions, such as not being able to use soap when washing it off and having a much higher price point for high-quality utensils.
For ceramics, they are known to retain their heat much better than other materials, and while this is good for cooking, it means you have to be careful when touching a ceramic utensil that has been near or around the stove.
Glass is a universal ovenware for your dishes to bake in. Glass that is designed to be oven-safe is usually branded as such, since it has to go through some degree of treatment to ensure that it can handle the temperature, and what’s even better is that they cannot leach chemicals into your food like some other kitchen utensils can.
The biggest risk with glass is that, on rare occasions, it can explode, especially when it is transferred from the freezer straight to the oven because of the harsh temperature change. Keep in mind that this is a rarity and properly made glassware doesn’t do this, but it is something to be mindful of.
Finally, there’s stainless steel. This is generally considered a modern staple for materials that are used in ovens. Not only does it work well for pots and pans that you are baking in, but other utensils (such as spatulas) can be used as well and brought into contact with the heat of the oven without an issue, and stainless steel utensils are often much less expensive than these other materials.
The one problem is that there is some worry about the potential for stainless steel to leach chemicals into your food, but this is generally a minor concern as there isn’t too much evidence for it and there is far more evidence for stainless steel being non-reactive.
If you’re extremely worried about the idea of this, you will simply want to make sure you don’t use particularly acidic foods with stainless steel utensils.
The good news is that stainless steel has been around long enough that there are specialty shops that cater to the people who might be worried about leaching chemicals. It may cost a little more, but often these specialty stores will guarantee that the stainless steel utensils are completely safe to use and have no potential to leach harmful chemicals into the food you eat, at any capacity.
Finally, there is silicone. Silicone doesn’t tend to have a solid shape, so it is commonly used as a baking cover, and a baking sheet, where it doesn’t have to hold a solid shape like certain pans do.
Silicone is inexpensive and easy to work with and clean, but its biggest problem is that it’s simply too new for any extensive testing to have been done on it to know if it leaches chemicals to any degree or if there are long-term problems with it.
For the most part though, it is completely safe to use as long as you follow the instructions that the manufacturer offers, and if you are really worried, you can keep up to date on the research for silicone utensils that receive frequent and regular oven exposure.
When it comes to your oven utensils, stainless steel may be considered the modern staple for what you can obtain easily, widely, and inexpensively, but stoneware, glassware, and ceramics all have their place as being wonderful oven-safe utensils that you can make use of.