You can usually tell how clean a pastry kitchen is by how well the piping equipment is maintained. In well-managed kitchens, the pastry bags get emptied and cleaned at the end of every shift.
There are places for the bags to hang and dry. The unused tips and couplers are stored on a clean and dry rack. Disposable plastic pastry bags (commission earned) may be used instead of cloth.
Beware of Eggs in Pastry Bags
In less sanitary kitchens, cloth or canvas pastry bags are not emptied and cleaned after every shift, which poses a health risk for consumers, especially if raw eggs are contained within the bag. This may be safe in some parts of the world but in America, conventional U.S. eggs contain high levels of salmonella so fillings and frostings with egg are not safe to leave at room temperature for prolonged periods of time.
Swiss meringue buttercream and Italian meringue buttercream are examples of popular frostings whose egg whites are not cooked to a high enough temperature to remain safe at room temperature. According to the U.S. government’s food safety website, it’s safer to use pasteurized eggs whenever a recipe calls for uncooked egg, but it’s better not to use raw egg at all.
These recipes don’t contain egg
Smooth Buttercream Cake Frosting
Pastry Bag Hygiene
Whether eggs are involved or not, piping bags come in contact with workers’ hands all day and for that reason alone, all pastry bags should be emptied and cleaned after every shift. They should be dried before their next use. I once worked in a bakery that used a swivel towel rack like this (commission earned) to dry pastry bags. The advantages of a swivel towel rack is that it’s affordable and doesn’t take up much space.
Cloth pastry bags (commission earned) eventually grow soiled and moldy, especially when they are not properly cleaned so they must be replaced periodically. Cloth bags are the most likely to weep their contents through the fabric so the bag gets oily, making it harder to hold.
Plastic coated pastry bags (commission earned) are another option although they don’t have the kind of softness that feels right in the hand.
THE SAFE BET: Disposable Pastry Bags
Disposable pastry bags (commission earned) are the most sanitary option. They are cheap and can be bought in large rolls. The cost is negligible, especially since they may be cleaned by hand and reused a few times. I recommend 18” or larger bag.
Parchment Paper Piping Cones Option
For smaller piping jobs, I find it’s easiest to use parchment cones instead.
Watch the VIDEO: Piping with Paper Cones
Tip on Storing Piping Tips
An easy way to store and organize piping tips and couplers is to mount a spool rack on the wall. Make sure to put it in a place where it won’t get bumped.
Tip on Buying Couplers
I like Ateco couplers better than Wilton couplers. The reason is because Wilton manufactures their couplers with a little groove cut into them so that you can’t use them like a round piping tip.
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This is a fantastic article. I could never understand how bakers can maintain any sort of sanity with a mess in the kitchen. I like to keep my work place clean and organized. I feel like it creates a better end product. ♡ I only do cakes for close friends and family but I am very taken back by some of the techniques and corners some decoraters and baker cut. Scary!
Thank you for taking the time to emphasize the importance of sanitation. I am from old school where that came first always. Always enjoy hearing opinions on baking techniques and will try using different pastry bags and tips. Really enjoyed the article.
I was holding my breath through the entire article to make sure that I was doing the right thing and guess what! I AM!!! I purchase 21″ piping bags from the webstaurant store in boxes of 100. Wilton bags just don’t even compare. I don’t even use couplers most of the time… just the tip in the bag. I have exactly one cloth bag that I used exactly one time and I couldn’t bring myself to use it again. I use parchment cones occasionally, but most of the time I use one of those master tipless bags for tiny amounts. I keep them on hand by the hundreds. And at $3.50/100 I say that’s worth it. You just have to wait a month to get them in from China. I LOVE READING YOUR ARTICLES!!!! THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR KNOWLEDGE!
Great tips! Cleaning cloth pastry bags is such a pain. I usually use them for potato puree because the presentation is so much more elegant than slapping a spoonful of potatoes on a plate.
I don’t think I will ever use a 100 bags though. Want to split a quarter of a roll 25/75 with me? 🙂
Great article, thanks!