First, let me tell you a little about the Optimum range. Made from borosilicate glass, the dishes are built to last! During manufacture, a key ingredient called Boron is added to the glass mix and then once formed, the glass goes through a process called Tempering, to make it extra strong. It will not stain or retain any odours or flavours from food and is scratch-resistant (use silicone tools rather than metal, it is kinder to the glass). Easy to clean - either wash by hand or pop in the dishwasher and they come back looking perfect every time.
So - time to step into my testing lab!
This may look like any old glass dish but it has features that deserve to be highlighted - and tested! Pyrex have thought long and hard about how to improve this classic range, making the dish deeper so ideal for everything from roasting a joint to constructing a lasagne or cottage pie.
I love the new larger easy-grip handle and found that is made is so much easier to remove the dish from the oven and onto the table with bulky oven gloves on which obviously are essential!
Pyrex Optimum is ovenproof up to 300°C, can be used in a microwave but also in a freezer to temperatures as low as -40°C, making this range very versatile indeed and will be used on a daily basis.
I wanted to cook several dishes to test the performance, so into the oven went a joint of beef surrounded by roast potatoes, followed by a full dish of roasted veggies, then a pasta bake with a thick tomato and cream sauce, Toad-in-the-Hole and finally a Summer Fruit Crumble.
Everything was cooked beautifully and although in some cases there was residue on the glass surface, a quick soak and a tickle with the washing up brush removed any traces and restored the glass back to beauty.
I poached 4 salmon fillets in the microwave, then followed this with a dish full of layered potato and onion slices covered in a rich creamy sauce. Perfect results.
To test the thermal shock resistance (temperatures up to 220°C), I took a dish of beef casserole from the freezer that had been in there for 2 days, so it was well and truly solid. Into the microwave it went to defrost it, then further cooking to heat it up. I could have also have put it straight into the oven as the borosilicate glass will withstand sudden heat changes. Similarly, if there are any leftovers, just put the dish into the fridge (covered) and it will be ready for when you want to reheat.
Of course, the brilliant thing about glass is that you can see the food cooking and when served at the table, you can see all the lovely layers and colours of the food, particularly the Roasted Veg.
The Optimum range comes with a 10 year guarantee, which speaks volume for the trust that Pyrex put in what I would say is an absolute kitchen essential. Treat them well and I have no doubts they will last many years, long beyond the guarantee period, much like the ones that your parents probably had, and still have in their cupboards!
Pyrex® is a trademark of Corning Incorporated used under license by international Cookware.