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Picking the Best Pastry Brush

Are you looking for the best basting brush or pastry brush to keep your meat tender and flavorful or baked crusts golden on top? A pastry brush, also known as a basting brush, is a versatile tool that is a must-have for any kitchen. Consider the different types available and your intended application to find a brush that allows you to unlock the full flavor of your signature recipes.

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What is a Pastry Brush?

Pastry brushes are helpful for applying sauces, oils, glazes, and other liquids to dishes before and during the cooking process. Using a baking brush gives you better control over the ingredient you add. Plus, it helps you spread an even coating for a consistent product in a manner that's clean and efficient.

What is a Pastry Brush Used for?

The best breads achieve a golden-brown crust from an egg wash or melted butter spread on top before they go in the oven. Or when you need to grease a pan, using a food brush helps you do it quickly and cleanly. If you've added too much seasoning, a brush can even be dipped in water and run over your dish to remove the excess seasoning. The uses for a pastry brush in your kitchen can stack up quickly.

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Pastry Brush vs Basting Brush

Don't let the name fool you, pastry brushes are also known as basting brushes. While both pastry brushes and basting brushes are designed to spread sauces and glazes more efficiently over foods, it is important that you use a designated pastry brush only for baking applications and a basting brush for meat and vegetable basting. Using the same brush can accidentally transfer flavors between your pastry and meat products, leading to cross-contamination.

How to Clean a Pastry Brush by Hand

  1. Hand wash the brush immediately after use. If your kitchen is too busy, at least soak it in warm water until you have time to clean it properly. (This prevents liquid ingredients from hardening.)
  2. Run the brush under hot water and gently rub bristles with dish detergent. Always try to remove oils as quickly as possible as they can turn the brush rancid, making it unfit for use.)
  3. Keep an eye on the base of your baking brush, ensuring no food or grease remains lodged where the bristles meet the handle.
  4. Rinse the brush and treat it with sanitizer.
  5. Leave it in a clean place to air dry.

Shapes & Sizes of Pastry Brushes

Wondering what the best pastry brushes are for your kitchen? The style of your brush can determine what tasks it's best for in your kitchen. Keep in mind that small brushes can be used for a variety of tasks including sealing the edges of dumplings, ravioli, or turnovers. The larger the food brush, the more helpful it is for covering large surfaces, like spreading sauce on pizza dough or slow-cooking ribs.

Consider the following shapes and sizes below to figure out which type of baking brush your process requires.
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Small Brushes

Work best for small items or for tasks that require more detail and care

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Large Brushes

Great for holding a lot of liquid and spreading across large surface areas

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Wide Brushes

Perfect for covering a larger amount of product

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Round Brushes

Best for smaller pastries, more detailed glazing tasks, or plate decoration

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Hook Brushes

Can be hung for storage or along the edge of your plate for cleaning

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Angled Brushes

Designed with tapered bristles to provide detailed, precise strokes

Pastry Brush Bristle Types

When looking at your intended use, the type of bristle your baking brush has can make or break its usefulness. Rigid bristles are sturdy and better for tougher product while soft bristles glide lightly, making them better for delicate food. Tighter bristles packed on a brush hold a higher volume of liquid ingredient, while looser bristles are easier to clean. Color can be important too. While a lot of brushes come in white, there are dark colored options available. Some kitchens prefer using a dark color so staff can see if a bristle accidentally falls out, ensuring it doesn't end up in food and negatively impact the final product. You should also consider recovery strength of a brush. Ones that recover quickly will preserve their shape and rigidy over time, so that you can get longer lasting use. Texture aside, make sure you assess the material of the bristles. From synthetic to animal hair ones, each material type has its own benefits:
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  • Soft texture is great for spreading thin liquids like oils or marinades
  • Water-resistant design absorbs oils
  • Holds more liquid than synthetic bristles
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  • Strong bristles are ideal for spreading thick liquids
  • Retains a high amount of liquid
  • Minimal risk of bristles falling out
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  • Flexible bristles are ideal for spreading thick sauces
  • Designed to withstand high heat applications
  • Easy to clean compared to natural hair
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  • Delicate bristles mimic boar hair
  • Designed for use up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Best for spreading thin liquids like oils or marinades

Pastry Brush Handles

The handle of your brush can also make a huge difference. If you're working with hot product, your staff is safer using a brush with a long handle. However if you're doing detailed work on pastries, a short handle gives your team better control. Consider the length when picking your brush out. Additionally, the material can be just as crucial. Usually pastry brushes come with either wood or plastic handles. Consider your use to select the best fit for your operation:
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  • Sturdy to grip
  • Comfortabable to hold
  • Stylish for front of house use
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  • Easy to clean
  • Strong for tough tasks
  • Durable for lasting use
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When to Replace Your Pastry Brush

Shedding bristles, especially if using an animal hair food brush, is a big indicator you need a new brush. Serving food with bristles in it can cause major problems for your restaurant.

If your brush is also melted, torn, stained, or otherwise, bristles that are damaged will hinder your ability to apply liquids. The bristles should be spread evenly and laid flat for optimal use. Brushes coming in contact with cooking oils can become rancid over time. This occurs because cooking oils left on the brush break down and spoil, resulting in a sour odor and taste that can transfer to food.

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How to Maintain Your Pastry Brush

Cleaning and maintenance is simple and will not only prolong the life of your brush, but also cut down on the spread of bacteria, preventing foodborne illnesses. Brushes with plastic handles are easy to wipe down and clean. However, brushes with wooden handles must be carefully handwashed to ensure they stay clean.

Animal hair pastry brushes must be washed by hand, but some synthetic brushes are dishwasher safe. If cleaning your brushes this way, be sure to place them securely in the machine so they are not damaged and remove and dry them as quickly as possible to prevent rust if your brush has any metal parts.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.

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