Are your baked goods missing that beautiful golden brown crust? Do your roasted meats or baked fish come out of the oven just a bit too dry? If so, don’t worry because there is an easy fix to your problems: the pastry brush. Simple, but mighty, a pastry brush in the proper hands is a formidable tool with the power to transform any dish. This pastry brush guide offers all of the basics so you can make an informed choice and raise your dishes to the next level.
A pastry brush is typically used to apply sauces, oils, glazes, and other liquids to dishes before and during the cooking process. The best breads, for example, achieve that luscious golden-brown crust from an egg wash or melted butter spread on top before they go in the oven. But don’t let the name fool you. Also known as basting brushes, pastry brushes are quite versatile and able to handle all manner of foods, including meat and fish. Many chefs will baste roasting meat or fish with drippings from the pan for crispy skin and bolder flavor, or apply barbecue sauce to grilled items for that little something extra.
An extremely versatile tool, pastry brushes are also useful for greasing pans with oil or melted butter and even to avert seasoning disasters. Perhaps you wanted a pinch of salt, but threw in a handful, or added a bit too much garlic powder. If so, your pastry brush can be used to remove any excess. Simply dip it in water and start collecting unwanted seasonings. They will stick right to the brush, saving your meal and preserving your flavors.
Pastry brushes are available in all shapes and sizes. Round brushes are ideal for smaller pastries or more detailed glazing tasks, whereas brushes that are wide and flat are perfect for spreading across foods and covering a larger surface area. We offer brushes with widths in these popular sizes: 3/8”, 1", 1 1/4", 1 1/2", 2", 2 1/2", 3", 4".
We offer pastry brushes with bristles made of a variety of materials, including boar hair, nylon, and silicone. Boar bristles are made from animal hair, whereas nylon and silicone bristles are synthetic. You need to consider your clientele when selecting a pastry brush. Boar hair bristles are not kosher or vegan, for example, making a synthetic brush necessary in certain situations. Animal hair and synthetic pastry brushes are equally effective, but do have some important differences.
If using an animal hair brush, shedding bristles is a big indicator that you may need a new brush. Serving food with brush bristles in it could cause some major problems for your restaurant. We offer boar brushes with black bristles, making it much easier for you to see when a bristle has fallen out!
Another sign it is time for a new brush is melted, torn, stained, or otherwise damaged bristles that hinder your brush's ability to apply liquids to foods. Finally, because they often come in contact with cooking oils, pastry brushes can go rancid. A brush becomes rancid when cooking oils left on the brush break down and decompose, resulting in a sour odor and taste that can transfer to your foods.
Pastry brushes are not terribly expensive, but the cost of constantly purchasing new ones can add up. If cared for properly, your pastry brush can last for years. 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. Generally speaking, brushes with plastic handles are easier to wipe down and clean. However, brushes with wooden handles have an attractive, classic appearance.
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.