Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Mix Of Perfection And Frustration For Serious Chefs: The Split Decision On The Pyrex Bake N’ Store Set!

The Good: Quality materials for most of the set, Affordable, Easy to clean
The Bad: Dimensions on the large baking pan, Tops for the large baking dishes
The Basics: The Pyrex Bake N’ Store is highly functional, cleanable and affordable, but for those using classic recipes, it may yield less-than-ideal results.

At the beginning of the month, I decided that I was going to make my wife a lasagna for my wife. It’s one of her favorite dishes that I make for her and it’s one of the things that I know, objectively, I make very well. Despite my old family recipe and the ceramic baking dish I have been using for decades, when I made the lasagna for my wife this last time, I realized I am being held back by my materials. As much as I love the baking dish that is probably older than I am, my recipe calls for a 9” x 13” x 2” baking dish and the one I’ve been using is 9” x 13 x 1 1/2". It might not seem like a lot, but when it comes to making a full, tall, amazing lasagna, the 1/2” of extra height makes a real difference.

So, my wife decided to rectify the problem and she bought me the Pyrex Bake N’ Store 8-piece set. The Pyrex Bake N’ Store set (product number 1093839 in the Pyrex catalog) is a set that illustrates some of the troubling differences between classic and contemporary cookware standards. As much as I love my wife and adore her attempt to solve my lasagna pan problem, the large Pyrex dish in the Bake N’ Store set is not actually 13” x 9” x 2” as Pyrex claims. So, those going off classic recipes that require dishes that actually live up to the measurements of the pans will be somewhat underwhelmed. New Pyrex dishware goes by volume instead of strict internal linear measurements and that makes a difference to chefs using tried-and-true recipes (much like architects would have issues using old blueprints that called for actual two by fours.

That said, the Pyrex Bake N’ Store is an otherwise wonderful set that lives up to almost all it promises! The Pyrex Bake N’ Store set includes four baking dishes/storage containers and four tops. The largest baking dish is a Pyrex glass dish that measures 16” by 9 3/4" by 2 1/4” at all of its most extreme external dimensions. Rather problematically, the three quart baking dish is only 12 1/2" by 8 3/4" by 1 7/8” at its widest internal dimensions. The 3 quart baking dish is significantly wider at the top, so it’s not even 12” long at the bottom dimension! Pyrex tries to advertise this as a 3 quart baking dish, as opposed to a 13” x 9” x 2”, but on the packaging it makes the linear measurement claim that it does not live up to. Given that I was trying to use this to replace a true 13” x 9” by 1 1/2", this was not an impressive leap up. It is, however, almost perfectly the size of three lasagna noodles!

The 2 quart baking dish claims to be 8” x 8” x 2 1/2" and the depth is realistically-executed and the internal 8” is reached only at the top (it’s under 7” at the bottom!). That makes a difference for doing things like baking brownies in a glass dish. The 2 quart baking dish, like the 3 quart, has built-in handles (this is one solid piece). Unfortunately for people who are tall or big, the 2 quart dish has very small hand-holes. This makes it virtually impossible for adults to actually pick up the 2 quart dish while wearing a hot pad to protect their fingers. That makes the built-in handles on the smaller baking dish somewhat pointless.

The Pyrex Bake N’ Store comes with two 1 cup Pyrex dishes. I’m not exactly sure what one might cook in these (outside eggs or something small that one could microwave), but they are great for storing individual portions of food that are one cup.

The four tops are a real split on the quality front. The two one cup containers have a slightly rubbery top that fits snuggly on the one cup Pyrex containers. The round top creates a wonderful seal that keeps foods stored inside the container fresh. The top may be used in the refrigerator, freezer, and microwave and it maintains a great seal on the small Pyrex containers!

The other two tops are made of a stiffer plastic and they snap onto the tops of the two and three quart dishes. It is impossible to mix them up; they only fit the one for which they are meant. The larger tops snap onto the top of the containers and they are nowhere near as snug as the tops for the 1 cup containers. That means that they are not designed to keep food fresh the way that the tops for the small containers are. While this makes it seem like the tops are ideal for transporting food in the larger two containers, they only work for that if one does not use the handles. The tops have tabs that snap into the handles. People with adult-sized hands might want to wrap their fingers around the handles, but if one tries, the result is that one’s fingers either do not fit or (especially if one is wearing oven mitts) attempting to use the handles with the top on the baking dish results in popping the top off the dish!

For all my gripes, though, the Pyrex Bake N’ Store is still pretty wonderful. First, the Pyrex is durable and weathers the oven, microwave, refrigerator and freezer perfectly! Second, Pyrex is ridiculously easy to clean. Between using the dishwasher and the ability to truly scrub the hell out of it when something is baked onto the surface, the Pyrex is exceptionally easy to clean. The tops for the small containers are top-rack dishwasher-safe and they, too, are simple to clean. Finally, the Pyrex Bake N’ Store 8-piece set is inexpensive. As my wife noted, it was less expensive to purchase this set than a single Pyrex 13” x 9” x 2” baking dish (though we’re not sure if that is an actual one or a 3 quart like the one in this set!).

For most households, the Pyrex Bake N’ Store will be superlative; for serious chefs going off scientifically-produced recipes, the dishes and tops in this set tread more toward adequate than incredible.

For other kitchen gadgets and appliances, please check out my reviews of:
Brillo Estracell No Scratch Scrub Sponge With WedgeWorks
RSVP International 4-Piece Spoon Straw Set
Wear-Ever Popcorn Pumper


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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