One question many home cooks have pondered at least once is ‘should I use the shiny or the dull side of the aluminum foil? Have I been doing it wrong this whole time?’ Some think the shiny side reflects more heat, resulting in a crispier finish, while others assume the dull side is a better conductor, creating a more even cooking surface.
We’re here to solve this longstanding mystery and to also reassure you that you haven’t been making any grave aluminum foil-related mistakes all these years. According to cooking experts, there is no “correct” side of aluminum foil to use, they’re both equally effective at heating your food, so you're free to choose whatever side you prefer.
But if there’s no trick to it, then why does aluminum foil have a shiny side and a dull side, to begin with? Huffington Post checked with experts a Reynold's Kitchen, and the answer is - it has to do with the manufacturing process. Tinfoil is made in a process called milling, during which heat and tension are applied to stretch and shape the foil.
Reynold’s kitchen provided a detailed explanation on their website:
The foil is ‘milled’ in layers during production. Milling is a process whereby heat and tension are applied to stretch the foil to the desired thickness. We mill two layers in contact with each other at the same time, because if we didn’t, the foil would break during the milling process. Where the foil is in contact with another layer, that’s the ‘dull’ side. The ‘shiny’ side is the side milled without being in contact with another sheet of metal. The performance of the foil is the same, whichever side you use.
If you use non-stick foil, however, there actually is a difference between the two sides, as the non-stick coating is only applied to one side. If that is the product you’re using, then you must make sure that the food only makes contact with the dull side. In most cases, it is imprinted with a “non-stick side” so it’s easy to avoid confusion. And that’s all you need to know. Now you’re prepared for an easy-breezy holiday cooking session.
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