When it comes to baking, parchment baking paper has long been a trusted companion in the kitchen. It provides a non-stick surface, ensures easy cleanup, and helps prevent food from sticking to baking sheets. However, in recent years, reusable baking mats have gained popularity as an alternative to parchment paper. But are these mats really similar to parchment paper, or are they different in terms of functionality and performance? In this blog post, we will explore the characteristics of baking mats and compare them to traditional parchment paper to help you make an informed choice for your baking needs.
Material and Composition
Most parchment paper, also known as baking paper, is made from paper that has been treated with a silicone coating. This coating gives it excellent non-stick properties, heat resistance, and the ability to withstand high temperatures without burning or tearing. We all know that paper is made from trees, and silicone is made from processed sand. Both materials are biodegradable and/or recyclable. However, when they are mixed their ultimate destination is often the landfill.
On the other hand, reusable baking mats are typically made from food-grade silicone. They are flexible, heat-resistant, and have a non-stick surface that eliminates the need for greasing or flouring the pan. Silicone, unlike parchment paper, can be recycled over and over again.
Both parchment paper and baking mats provide a non-stick surface, making it easier to remove baked goods from the pan without sticking or tearing. Parchment paper's silicone coating ensures that the food doesn't stick to the paper, while the silicone material of baking mats prevents sticking directly to the mat's surface.
Both parchment paper and baking mats are designed to withstand high temperatures, making them suitable for various baking applications. This makes them suitable for baking a wide range of recipes, including cookies, pastries, and even savory dishes.
Reusability and Durability
One of the significant advantages of silicone baking mats is their reusability. Unlike parchment paper, which is typically single-use and needs to be discarded after one or a few baking sessions, baking mats can be reused multiple times. They are durable and can last for a long time with proper care and maintenance (remember to don’t cut anything on top of it!).
Parchment paper is primarily used for lining baking sheets and pans, preventing sticking, and facilitating easy cleanup. It can also be used for other purposes, such as making parchment paper packets for steaming or en papillote cooking.
Baking mats, apart from lining baking sheets, can also be used as a work surface for rolling out dough, kneading, and shaping various baked goods. Some baking mats even come with measurements and guidelines for precision baking.
Baking mats are generally considered more sustainable than parchment paper due to their lower resource consumption, longer lifespan, and reduced waste generation.
On the other hand, parchment paper is often used once (or a maximum of a few times) and contributes to waste generation. Besides that, the process of bleaching (e.g. white parchment paper) usually requires the addition of chemicals, as well as a rigorous manufacturing process. Bleached parchment paper isn’t the most advisable type of parchment paper to use. Fortunately, you can already find a few options of unbleached baking parchment paper which can also be home compostable. They can be a sustainable option if you are not willing to adopt a reusable baking mat.
Ultimately, the choice between baking mats and parchment baking paper depends on individual preferences and priorities. For those seeking a more sustainable option, baking mats provide a durable, reusable, and sustainable alternative. However, it's worth noting that proper care of baking mats is essential to ensure their longevity and optimal performance.
Whether you opt for parchment paper or baking mats, being aware of the sustainability implications and making informed choices can contribute to a more environmentally friendly baking experience.