Pastry and Basting Brushes

You can depend on these inexpensive kitchen tools for function and style

Artist-style brushes serve a multitude of purposes in the kitchen: you can use them to apply an egg wash or spread glaze on pastries before you bake them, coat a piece of bread with oil or melted butter for crostini-type items, or baste a piece of meat with pan sauces or a marinade. They handily whisk crumbs from a cake before you frost it or make it easy to evenly spread pizza sauce across the dough. Small brushes help you apply a dab of water to seal the edges of ravioli, dumplings, and turnovers before you bake them or transform a plain dinner plate into a canvas of colorful sauce.

Keep a few different styles on hand for versatility; you also need separate brushes designated for sweet or savory applications. Because you wouldn’t want your sweet pastry to taste like the garlicky marinade from last night’s chicken, would you?

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    Mastrad Baster

    Mastrad Baster
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    This silicone-bristled brush has a two-in-one purpose. You can use it solely as a brush for marinades, or you can use the baster feature to pull juices from a pan, then release them through the bristles to baste a piece of meat or roasting vegetables or anything that benefits from a repeated dose of moisture while it cooks. The flat base allows you to stand it up on the counter or in the sink between uses, reducing the mess from sticky bristles.

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    Boar-Bristle Pastry Brush

    Boar-Bristle Pastry Brush
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    A paintbrush like you might find at the hardware store works best with broader jobs such as basting a roast, buttering phyllo dough sheets, or spreading egg wash on larger loaves of bread or pastries. Consider keeping a generously sized one with 2-inch bristles in your kitchen utility drawer. Brushes with wooden handles and natural bristles should be hand-washed.

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    Elizabeth Karmel Grill Brush

    Elizabeth Karmel Grill Brush
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    The angled 14-inch handle of this brush makes it handy for applying barbecue sauce to your meat on the grill without burning yourself or reaching deep into the oven to baste a roast. The heat-resistant silicone bristles are also dishwasher safe and detach from the handle for thorough cleaning.

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    Rosle Pastry Brush

    Rosle Pastry Brush
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    A brush with tighter bristles such as this 1.4-inch pastry brush makes easy work of delicate jobs such as applying glaze or wash to individual pastries and tarts. You can also use it to add sauce to your plates in artistic swoops and swaths. The natural bristles are cut in a curve for more precise coverage, and the stainless steel handle is shaped in a loop for hanging. The bristle head can also be replaced or interchanged, making it possible to use one brush for both sweet and savory applications.

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    Farberware Sauce Pot and Brush

    Farberware Sauce Pot and Brush
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    This silicone-bristled brush comes with a 4 1/2-inch pot, just the right size for melting butter or making a barbecue sauce. The stainless steel brush handle includes a loop for hanging, and a nonstick coating on the stainless steel pot keeps cleanup easy.

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    Tips for Selecting Kitchen Brushes

    Keep these tips in mind when you select pastry and basting brushes for your kitchen:

    • Silicone-bristled brushes are easy to clean and work best for thicker sauces, such as barbecue sauce.
    • You will get a better application of thin liquids such as olive oil, vinegar-based marinades, and butter with a paintbrush-style brush with finer bristles. You can find them with either natural boar bristles or synthetic ones.
    • Some brushes, such as those with silicone bristles, can go in the dishwasher.
    • Brushes with natural bristles and wooden handles should be hand-washed. Work liquid detergent and warm water into the bristles, rinse them well, then squeeze out the excess water and air-dry them, bristle-side up, in a glass.
    • Natural bristles can shed and need to be replaced eventually as residue builds up.
    • Self-basting brushes have a hollow handle that you fill with sauce or liquid. Though convenient, they can be difficult to clean and make it harder to control the amount of liquid you apply.
    • Keep separate brushes for sweet and savory applications, labeling them with a permanent marker for easy identification.