Watch out! You could be making this dangerous mistake with your Pyrex dish

I started using Pyrex glassware before 1998, so I consider the products to be almost miraculously heat-resistant. Back then, you could safely take a dish from one temperature extreme to another—refrigerator to freezer to oven—without having to worry about glassware shattering from the change in temperature. (It’s a phenomenon known as “thermal shock.”) It was a thing of beauty for any home cook who likes to prepare a family-favorite 13×9 casserole on Sunday night, and pop it right in the refrigerator for a weeknight meal.

But what many folks don’t know is that somewhere along the line, things changed, and Pyrex glassware is no longer thermal shock-resistant. If used improperly, the dish can shatter into hundreds of tiny pieces inside your oven—leaving you with a potentially harmful mess. Here’s what you need to know:

RELATED: Never make these mistakes in the kitchen 

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Cooking mistakes that can make your food toxic
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Cooking mistakes that can make your food toxic

Cooking with the wrong fats

Cook with olive oil—but only for certain foods. Butter is back—but is butter better? And then there's coconut oil—actually, there are many reasons not to cook with coconut oil. So what are the healthiest fats for cooking? Maggie Michalczyk, registered dietitian in Chicago, recommends doing your homework before buying a jumbo jug of one particular oil and using it for everything. "These oils have different smoke points—that's the temperature at which they begin to burn—and once they start smoking, the fat breaks down and they can release harmful free radicals into the air," she says. Oils with high smoke points that are great for high-heat cooking include avocado oil (refined), almond oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil. Regardless of smoke point, you'll want to limit soybean and corn oils, which studies have linked to diabetes. Also, keep portions of oils in check when cooking to prevent additional calories (most serving sizes are two tablespoons). You might find this information on cooking oils helpful.

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Overheating healthy oils

Oils with low smoke points are better for salad dressings or adding to already cooked foods—but not for high temp cooking. "Certain oils, like olive oil and coconut oil, contain nutritional compounds that can be destroyed when heating to high temperatures above their smoke points," explains Ben Roche, Michelin-star chef and director of product development at Just. For general cooking at home (sautéing, frying, roasting), he recommends using a neutral oil, like grapeseed or sunflower. For flavoring cold sauces and drizzling over prepared food, he suggests using extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil to preserve flavor and nutrition. Just make sure you're not buying fake olive oil.

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Frying your food

It might taste downright delicious, but consuming deep-fried food on the regular can be deadly. "The act of frying turns otherwise healthy foods, like vegetables and lean meats, into unhealthy, trans-fat-laden treats," says Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist. Additionally, consumption of fried foods has been linked to a myriad of health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. If you can't shake your fried-food obsession, Kimszal suggests purchasing an air fryer. This device does not require any oil to cook your food, so you can still enjoy your favorite foods without all the trans fat that will hurt your health. These foods that contain trans fats will shock you.

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Charring your meat

While raw or undercooked meat can pose health hazards, so can overcooked or charred meats. "Cooking meats above 300°F, which usually results from grilling or pan frying, can form compounds called HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), that may be harmful to human DNA," warns Christen Cupples Cooper, EdD, RDN, assistant professor and founding director of the Nutrition and Dietetics Program at the College of Health Professions at Pace University. "Some research suggests that when metabolized, these compounds may activate enzymes linked to cancer risk." While the research is limited, Cooper believes there's enough evidence to recommend reducing your exposure to these chemical compounds. "Avoid cooking foods for any length of time over an open flame or hot metal surface, turn meat frequently during cooking, and cut away charred portions of meat," she says.

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Using the wrong cookware

Just like it's important to know what ingredients are in the food you eat, you should also know what ingredients are used to create the cookware you use. "Nonstick cookware is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to toxicity," warns Raul Serrano, DC, doctor of functional medicine in Palm Harbor, Florida. "Teflon, which is practically everywhere (cookie sheets, muffin pans, and frying pans), contains a man-made chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or C8)." Some studies have found links between PFOA exposure and cancer development, reproduction, and liver dysfunction. Serrano recommends healthier alternatives, such as cast iron, glass, ceramic, and stainless steel. (Here's the best way to organize your pots and pans.)

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Storing your leftovers in plastic containers

In the same vein of being careful when selecting your cookware, you always want to take precaution when purchasing your food storage containers. "Some popular storage containers on the market contain bisphenol-A (BPA), which studies have shown that once ingested, mimic estrogen in our bodies," says Dr. Serrano. "High levels of estrogen result in weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, headaches, and higher risk of certain cancers." Instead, he recommends swapping out plastic containers for glass containers.

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Getting too much salt 

If there's one flavor Americans love in their food, it's salt. In fact, about 90 percent of people living in the United States over the age of two consume too much of the stuff, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Heart Association recommends 2,300 mg of salt per day, which is about a teaspoon; the average adult is consuming around 3,592 mg. "In some cases, our taste buds may be desensitized to the flavor of salt," says Michalczyk. The problem is all the sodium packed into prepackaged foods: According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of the sodium in the average American diet comes from processed food. Here are some foods that are surprisingly high in sodium.

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Adding too much sugar

If there's one flavor Americans love in their food, it's salt. In fact, about 90 percent of people living in the United States over the age of two consume too much of the stuff, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Heart Association recommends 2,300 mg of salt per day, which is about a teaspoon; the average adult is consuming around 3,592 mg. "In some cases, our taste buds may be desensitized to the flavor of salt," says Michalczyk. The problem is all the sodium packed into prepackaged foods: According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of the sodium in the average American diet comes from processed food. Here are some foods that are surprisingly high in sodium.

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Relying on processed frozen food dishes for weekday meals

It's tempting to turn to a frozen meal that promises to be ready for you in just three minutes in the microwave, especially after a long, stressful day of work. But oftentimes, these foods contain a slew of preservatives and chemicals that are hazardous to your long-term health. Remember that humans have only been exposed to these for a very short time in evolutionary history," says Krampf. "Not only do processed foods leave less room in your diet for healthier foods, but they are loaded with ingredients like artificial preservatives, refined sugar, and white flour." Instead, she recommends opting for whole foods, like vegetables, fruits, eggs, and meat whenever possible. And, if you must buy something in a box, choose one with ingredients that you can at least understand and pronounce. Here are frozen meals you can feel good about feeding your kids.

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Drinking a glass of wine while cooking

Unless you're sipping on a full stomach, experts warn against having that glass of wine while stirring your family's meal, as relaxing as it might be. "Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to an unhealthy spike in blood sugar," says Michalczyk. "Plus you may notice that the longer you wait to eat after the initial drink, the hungrier you will feel, which may lead you to overdo on whatever food you see next." Or the opposite can happen: Drinking alcohol before a meal might suppress your appetite, causing you to miss out on calories and nutrients your body needs. Here's what happens when you drink a glass of wine every night.

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Using 'low-fat' everything you can find

There was a time when nutrition experts believed that fat was the enemy, but, thankfully, that time has come and gone. We've since learned that there is good fat and bad fat: Anything fried isn't too great, but avocados and fish are full of good fat (omega-3-fatty acids). Krampf warns that not adding enough fat when cooking is a mistake. "In addition to being an energy source and protection or organs, fat is used in cell membrane function, start reactions that affect the immune system and metabolism, and allow for absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K," she says. Here are some clear signs you're not eating enough healthy fats.

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The original Pyrex is thermal shock-proof

When Corning started manufacturing Pyrex in 1908, they were using borosilicate glass. That’s what made Pyrex thermal shock-resistant. Until 1998, all Pyrex glassware was made with borosilicate glass. That means that if you have Pyrex glassware made before 1998 (like this gorgeous vintage design), you can safely use it like you always have—making a baked mac n’ cheese casserole and leaving the dish on your cold granite countertop or immediately transferring it to the fridge for tomorrow’s dinner.

The classic Pyrex is one thing you should never pass up at Goodwill—here’s what else you should grab.

Why things changed

In 1998, Corning sold the Pyrex brand to World Kitchen LLC, which stopped using borosilicate glass and started using soda-lime glass, according to Consumer Reports.Soda-lime glass is just ordinary glass. It’s not resistant to thermal-shock, and it could shatter when going from one temperature extreme to another. So if you’ve bought new Pyrex glassware since 1998, it’s important to keep in mind that what you have is ordinary glassware and it needs to be handled with care. Here’s what Consumer Reports recommends:

  • Do not place Pyrex on your stove top
  • Do not move your Pyrex from one temperature extreme to the other—when you assemble a make-ahead breakfast the night before, take it out of the refrigerator and let it come closer to room temp while you preheat your oven

In other words, easy casseroles can still be your go-to as long as you’re careful with the temperature extremes!

The post Watch Out! You Could Be Making This Dangerous Mistake with Your Pyrex Dish appeared first on Taste of Home.

RELATED: Common cooking mistakes you can learn from 

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Common Cooking Mistakes and How to Fix Them
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Common Cooking Mistakes and How to Fix Them

How can you save a dish if it's too salty or doctor up a lopsided cake? We'll show you how to fix common cooking mistakes, from soggy pan-fried dishes to gummy rice.

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My dish is too salty.

There’s nothing you can do to take the salt out, but you can add more of other ingredients to reduce its concentration. For salty soups and stews, try diluting with water. A bit of acidity from vinegar or lemon juice can also help curb the saltiness. To avoid this mistake in the future, make sure to taste as you go through a recipe, and be careful when using canned ingredients, which can be harbor high salt content.

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My dish is too spicy.

Like fixing saltiness, you can try adding more of other non-spicy ingredients. Another trick is to add a little sugar to curb the spiciness.

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It’s not baking evenly.

If you’re baking dough or batter, an uneven shape could cause this problem. Try rolling out the dough evenly and distribute the dough or batter evenly on the pan. Otherwise, it could be a mechanical issue, and your oven may not be reaching the right temperature or may have “hot spots”.

For starters, we suggest investing in an oven thermometer. To check for hot spots, toast slices of bread in the middle of a rack, and areas that are more toasted may indicate a hot spot. Next time you bake, try to avoid them or rotate your pans to evenly distribute the heat.

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Special tricks for uneven cake

If your cakes are coming out domed, try two tricks: wrap Bake Even strips around the pan, or make your own by cutting a towel into strips, soak them in water and tie them around the pan. The second trick is to take a clean paper towel and gently press down the raised top of the baked cake while it is still hot. Alternatively, when assembling the cooled cake, you can use a serrated knife to cut an even surface and flip it around so the cut side is now the bottom.

Image Credit: jupiterimages

I can’t get a good sear/crust.

If you’re not getting a good sear or crust, it might be because you turn the food too often. You’ll know the dish is ready to be turned when your spatula easily slides underneath, so resist the urge and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful browning. Another reason may be that the pan is not hot enough. Don’t be afraid to turn up the heat to medium-high or high in order to quickly cook the outside and seal in the moisture.

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My food doesn’t brown and is soggy.

Many of us make the mistake of overcrowding the pan when we’re on a time crunch or want to avoid cleaning more dishes, but overcrowding does not allow for steam to escape as food releases moisture. Make sure what’s in the pan is not covering up one another, and try using two pans simultaneously to save on time.

Image Credit: Getty Images

My cookies spread too much

If your cookies look like they’re packing on the pounds after being baked, the culprit might be overly softened butter. The best way to soften butter is to let it sit out at room temperature for about an hour; if you’re short on time, try cutting up your butter into small cubes to soften more quickly. Try to avoid the microwave as this can easily melt the butter if you’re not careful.

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The texture of my baked goods is off.

Baking is a science, and an inaccurate ingredient measurement can throw off the texture of your baked good. Pay attention to the instructions to notice differences between packed and lightly spooned measurements. We suggest sifting flour to air it out for consistent measurements, and it’s best practice to level it off evenly with the flat edge of a knife.

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My egg whites won’t whip up!

Whipping up egg whites is a difficult task, and even a little bit of egg yolk will stop them from whipping up fully. Egg whites whip up better at room temperature rather than cold, so let them sit out for several minutes. It’s best to use a copper bowl, but stainless steel or glass bowls work well, too. Make sure your beaters are clean and dry, and whip at high speed until stiff peaks form, which you’ll know when you lift the beater out of the bowl and the peaks stay upright. Be careful not to overwhip or it will separate!

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My roast/fish/poultry is overcooked/undercooked.

We strongly encourage investing in a meat thermometer, like this one from OXO which has a cable wire that runs through the oven door so you don’t have to open the door and lose heat. If the deed's been done, salvage overcooked protein by shredding it and adding sauce.

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My rice comes out sticky and gummy.

Not having enough water in the rice pot means that the grains rub against each other and release starch, making rice sticky. While this is true, also be careful about adding too much water. If the rice doesn’t absorb all the water after cooking, letting it sit in the liquid will make it gummy and clumpy, too. Try using 1.5 – 1.75 cups of water per cup of long-grain white rice, and adjust accordingly. Brown rice requires more water, and shorter-grain rice will need less. Also, consider investing in a rice cooker, which will reliably cook rice perfectly.

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My meat is too chewy.

This is more of a problem for tough cuts of meat, like skirt steak or flank, which have a grain formed by thick bundles of muscle fiber. If you cook at too high of a temperature or don’t cook long enough, you won’t give enough time for the fibers to break down. A few other tips include marinading the meat with a tenderizing agent (such as dairy) and cutting the cooked meat against the grain to cut through the fibers.

Image Credit: Luca Trovato

My salad is soggy.

Delicate greens bruise easily, so handle them with care. After rinsing under water, dry leaves by using a salad spinner. Gently toss lettuce with dressing right before serving. Otherwise, the leaves will absorb the dressing and appear wilted.

Image Credit: Maren Caruso

My deep-fried foods are alway greasy.

If your fried foods come out oily, the temperature of the frying oil is too low. When oil is properly heated between 325 degrees to 400 degrees, it won’t seep into the food because hotter oil will more strongly repel from water, found in the natural moisture of food. Throw away soggy meat, but try refrying vegetables. Also, frying in small batches helps to maintain hot oil temperature.

Image Credit: Neil Langan Uk

My hard-boiled eggs look awful.

Ever wonder why your whites are rubbery or your yolk has a green-gray ring around it? Dropping an egg in boiling water will cook the whites faster than the yolk, and by the time the yolk is done the whites end up tough. The discolored ring happens when the iron in the yolk and the sulfur in the white react under heat. Prevent it by plunging fresh-cooked eggs in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Image Credit: Adam Gault

Try hard-cooking rather than hard-boiling eggs.

While there are many ways to cook an egg, you might get better results by hard-cooking it without boiling. Bring a pot of eggs and water to a slight boil, and then turn off the heat. Let the eggs sit covered for about ten minutes, and then cold plunge them for perfect doneness.

Image Credit: Doring Kindersley

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