Inquiring minds want to know: How to avoid a shattering experience in the kitchen.

By on March 21, 2016

Inquiring minds want to know:  What Makes PYREX pyrex?

I bought this cool new casserole dish last week.  It’s clear glass, a rectangle and it has a clear glass lid.  It holds 2 quarts. It cost less than ten bucks. The brand is PYREX. Pyrex 2 quart casserole dish with lid

The look of the thing intrigued me.  As a rectangle with a built hand grips, I could see how handy it would be, and with that lovely glass handle on the top, it looked both useful and beautiful.

I know what you’re thinking.  Only an aged home ec major could look on something as ordinary as a Pyrex casserole as a thing of beauty. But the truth of it is, every single item in your kitchen was once the gleam in the eye of a designer seated at a drawing board.

Yes.  Even the lowly casserole dishes we all know and use. And the fact that it was PYREX led me to have confidence that it was not likely to shatter and break. Here’s what the company had to say about this ordinary – not so ordinary kitchen appliance.

  • Made of nonporous glass that won’t warp, stain, or absorb odors
  • Glass is preheated oven, microwave, fridge, freezer & dishwasher safe
  • Glass bakeware has large ergonomic handles for improved handling
  • Pyrex Glass is Made in the USA and comes with a 2 Year Warranty

Kitchen accidents do occur, but there are steps you can take to avoid them. Buying Pyrex can be part of your safety strategy.

The warranty of 2 years meant nothing to me.  I have Pyrex glass casserole and other dishes that are 30 years old.  This stuff is made to last.

But what is the difference in PYREX and other brand names? Simply put, the glass itself is tempered, meaning it’s less likely to shatter when exposed to different temperatures.  Originally this was accomplished by the use of borosilicate.  That was in the days when this kind of glass was most used in scientific laboratories.

But in the way of the world, the company changed to a cheaper tempered soda-lime glass instead of borosilicate.

That is way more information than the ordinary home cook ever wants to know. But now let’s hear it for old-fashioned home ec classes in high school, which have gone the way of the dodo bird.  Back in the Pleistocene age when I was a girl,  Home Ec was in every school child’s education.  This meant that blistering hot dishes were not put on ordinary counter tops without the use of some sort of heat baffling layer – say an old fashioned trivet. Ice cold water wasn’t poured into hot glass dishes.shattering glass ovenware

So the issue of heat diffusion in the kitchen was already settled. But in today’s world, when high school kids have more important things on their minds than how to save the Pyrex, Some unfortunate kitchen accidents have occurred.  Glass shatters on counter tops, in microwaves, in the oven, and sometimes even in the refrigerator.

Why? Shock from putting a hot something on a cold something.  Common sense tells most of us not to try it, and for those who do, some ugly surprises can ensue.

This means, don’t pour cold water into a dish in a hot oven.

But Pyrex, now owned by the US World Kitchen company, and known with a lower case pyrex, is the best chance you get for avoiding one of these shattering surprises.

Pyrex is still one of the best and least expensive kitchen investments you can buy.

Look for it. Especially if you have turned some of the cooking chores over to the kids in your household.  They’re most likely to try kitchen experiments that could end in ugly explosions.

Don’t suddenly expose hot glass cookware to cold temperatures. 

It could be a shattering experience.

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About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”

One Comment

  1. Phyllis Brown

    March 21, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Shattering glass dishes hasn’t happened in my kitchen, but thanks for this. Now I know the rules.
    And thanks for your book, Rustic Bread. I finally made the sourdough bread recipe in there and it is the best bread I have ever made. Mike said it is the best homemade bread he has ever tasted.