These days it seems inevitable that wherever a person goes, especially a foodie, he is sure to run into an extravagant display of kitchenware and bakeware made of that marvel of the 21st century, silicone.

Only a few years ago, oven mitts made of silicone were making a subtle entrance into the kitchenware market. I recall the first time I saw such oven mitts and thought to myself that they were really weird! I was almost afraid to stick my hand into one of those mitts. How in the world does a person use them without seriously burning his hands and arms?

That was only two years ago. Now, the kitchenware and bakeware displays of silicone can be found in stores everywhere, from high-end cooking and kitchen stores down to big box stores.

Oven mitts are far from being the lone entry into the world of space-age kitchenware. There are now so many items made of silicone on the market that it is almost like being a small child left to gaze at all the scrumptious sweets in a candy store.

Besides being available in a panoply of wild colors, silicone is a fun-filled concept with which to play. It is so flexible it literally can be folded in half. It dissipates heat quickly and clean-up is a snap. Silicone kitchenware and bakeware can be cleaned merely with water or you can just toss them into the dishwater. Don’t you wish you could clean up your traditional cookie sheets and cupcake pans that way, scraping off layers of your knuckles as you attempt to pry off chunks of burnt-on batter? I think not. Another advantage of silicone goods over traditional ones is the increased longevity of silicone. And of course, perhaps the most significant advantage of silicone kitchenware and bakeware is the incredibly extreme range of temperatures it can withstand, from roughly 40ºF (-40ºC) to 600ºF (316ºC).

Let us take a look at this treasure trove of kitchen fun. Where shall we start? Silicone oven mitts are phenomenal in the rough treatment they can endure. In addition to the ferociously high temperatures to which they can be exposed, you can dip your mitt-covered hands into a pot of boiling water with no injury to you or the mitts. There is less possibility of suffering scald burns as both water and oil are repelled by silicone. Also, the thinness of a silicone mitt allows for a more pronounced sense of touch.

Two more items of silicone kitchenware which come in very handy with stovetop or oven cooking are the flexible pot lid and silicone cord ties to secure that lovely roast you are planning to serve for dinner. No more madly searching for the spool of kitchen twine and the scissors with which to cut it. To help you prepare a succulent green salad to go along with that roast, there is the silicone salad knife which resembles a cake server with serrated teeth. For refreshing, icy-cold beverages there are silicone ice cube trays making traditionally-shaped cubes or silicone ice trays giving you fruit-shaped or other whimsically-shaped ice cubes. Perhaps you feel like putting hearts or shamrocks in your ice tea.

How can it be such a delicious dinner without dessert? Cupcakes can be made in individual cupcake cups (which need to be prepped with a nonstick spray such as Pam® before first use) or traditionally configured muffin tins of silicone. There are also silicone cake pans, as well as loaf pans perfect for Grandma’s famous banana bread or your favorite meat loaf.

Don’t forget silicon kitchen tools. There are standard spatulas, as well as dual-ended spatulas; basting brushes; funnels; collapsible colanders, with and without handles; hot pads; pan holders that slip over the pot’s handle; tart cups; baking sheets; reusable cookie sheet liners; colanders that fold totally flat, for easy storage; warmers/steamers with which to warm tortillas or to steam vegetables; bundt cake pans; lasagna pans; madelaine pans; bowls; cookie cutters in varied animal, flower, and other shapes; tongs; trivets; pinch bowls; rolling pins; tuna press/canned food strainers; garlic peelers; coasters; suction lids to cover leftovers; pot clips; pastry brushes; microwave egg poachers; bowl scrapers; egg rings in various fun shapes; whisks; pot holders; spaghetti tongs; and splatter screens. liquid rubber

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