Always Learning

So the other day I was on a cooking forum and comments were being exchanged on braising. I made the suggestion that clear glass PYREX should be avoided, in that the infrared radiation would be too aggressive coming through the clear glass. I think I did a mac n’ cheese once and found that it over cooked quickly. So there- no glassware for braising and I should know, I’ve done braising for years, and successfully mind you!


Well the next post read, ‘with all due respects chef- you are wrong.’ Wrong? Wrong?! Wait a minute! And then the post expounded on oven temps and how the container should not make a difference. Well, I figured that the container used for the braise should be heavy enough for heat retention and not allow aggressive IR in.


I figured this would be a good question for Harold McGee and this was the exchange we had:


 Hi Hal, Hope all is well-
Just wanted to get your feelings about braising in glass containers
such as Pyrex, especially clear- is the heat too aggressive or do you
find it acceptable. I really don’t use glass to cook in so wanted your
thoughts. I’ve always thought with the clear class there would be too
aggressive of heat and so don’t use it. Best–JP


Sat, 27 Sep 2008 00:03:24 -0700 “Harold McGee” writes:

Hi JP, the heat can only be as aggressive as the source. It’s true that glass passes infrared radiation, but at braising temps–at least correct ones, below 200–IR is pretty weak. Make sense? Cheers–  Hal

On Sat, Sep 27, 2008 at 12:14 AM, John P Khoury wrote:

Absolutely Hal. I recently advised someone against clear glass for braising but at correct

temps infrared wouldn’t matter. If their oven were hotter then the clear glass might pose

more of a problem- the key would be regulating the source of the heat correct? -JP


On Sat, 27 Sep 2008 00:21:16 -0700 “Harold McGee” writes:

yes, but if the oven is off then any container will get too hot, not just glass.


On Sat, Sep 27, 2008 at 12:29 AM, John P Khoury wrote:

clear glass would let the IR through quicker if the oven is too hot but the oven temp would get the same contents as hot fairly quickly in any type of vessel, correct? I guess the question I’m asking is how much of a difference the IR that the clear glass allows through would make even in a very hot oven as opposed to let’s say terra cotta at the same temps. -JP


On Sat, 27 Sep 2008 00:33:33 -0700 “Harold McGee” writes:

…big enough that bakers say to beware of using pyrex pie pans–that’s around 400.


On Sat, 27 Sep 2008  “John P Khoury”writes:

Excellent- thanks for the information Hal. I want to make sure advice or info I pass along is accurate. I will make sure I clarify my comments. I have used glass at a higher temp at home on certain things and found the results I was looking for not satisfactory and of course in the professional kitchen there is not a lot of glass cookware for other obvious reasons. Low and slow it shouldn’t matter-got it. Thanks again. Best as always- JP


Wow! I stand corrected, even though my premise was correct, the braise needs to be low and slow but the oven matters more than the container at those temps and you really only have to worry about clear glass in the oven at higher temps where infrared is more of an issue. In the professional kitchen we did not use glass cookware for braising but really the reason being more of the impact issues of the industrial kitchen and not the glassware itself so the premise needed an adjustment. Well, I swallowed my previous comments and posted the above information to some positive comments on the correction.

That’s what I love about the world of food- you never stop learning!


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by boar_d_laze on October 3, 2008 at 3:07 AM

    As the originator of the “with all due respect” post, and a few followups with JP, let me say “good blog.” I’ll be back and I’m sure JP and I will have plenty to agree about and a little bit to kick to around as well. There’s always plenty to learn.


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