What can be used in place of plastic wrap in the kitchen???
We’ve had this discussion several times with readers and facebook fans. Finally (thanks to a facebook friend Barry F!), I learned about a simple way to make a reusable food wrap to replace plastic wrap and waxed paper.
We have been using reusable cloth bags for a while now – a great replacement for zip-top plastic bags. But until now, I still had not found a way to completely eliminate plastic wrap or waxed paper from our arsenal of wasteful kitchen products. Inspired by this blog post about DIY beeswax food wrap, I decided I needed to hurry and give it a shot in case it was the kitchen miracle I had been looking for.
Well, it may not be a miracle, but I can already see the awesome potential this plastic alternative has. Read on – I know you’ll be inspired to make your own!
DIY reusable food wrap
Things you’ll need
- cotton material
- pinking shears (find these here)
- parchment paper (large roll, 15″ wide, works best) (find it here)
- beeswax beads or pellets, find them online here or here - (I found very fine white beeswax beads in the bulk section at my local health food store. Yellow beads will discolor light fabrics, but are more unrefined and probably healthier to use for this project. You can also use grated beeswax with great results.)
- iron (find one here if you don’t have one)
- large cutting board (or other flat surface covered with newspaper or drop cloth) (find one here)
Wash and dry fabric. Using pinking shears to reduce fraying, cut several squares from your cotton material. I cut several different sizes – some large enough to cover large pans, and others to wrap small food items.
Choose a large flat work surface and make sure to cover it with something that can withstand heat. (I used an old giant cutting board.) Tear off two equally-sized sheets of parchment paper, both bigger than your largest pre-cut cloth square. Tape one piece of parchment to your work surface.
Place one pre-cut cloth square on top of your taped-down parchment paper. Sprinkle beeswax beads evenly over cloth square, making sure to cover all the way to edges.
Place second sheet of parchment paper over the top. With a hot iron (I used the cotton setting), gently iron over the top of the parchment paper, going back and forth a few times. (You may want to make a mark on the underside of your top sheet of parchment paper – the side that comes into contact with the wax. This will prevent you from ironing on the waxy side and getting gunk on your iron.)
Note: Alternatively, you can use the oven instead of an iron to make your reusable food wrap. I didn’t want to turn my oven on in the summertime to individually bake 16 squares of fabric – but feel free if you would prefer this method. Use the suggestions in this article as a guideline.
Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and inspect your work. Areas that did not get enough beeswax will be lighter in color. (Notice the lighter areas on the purple fabric in the picture below.) Simply sprinkle a small amount of wax on those areas, cover with parchment paper, and iron again. If your cloth has too much wax on it, you can put another piece of fabric on top, place parchment over both of them, and iron gently. The top piece of fabric will soak up some of the wax. Note: Having too much wax is better than not having enough. Using too little wax will allow your food wrap to leak when wrapping juicy foods.
Carefully remove the hot fabric from your work surface and hang to dry. Fabric will stiffen as it dries.
Go ahead and use your new reusable food wrap once it is cooled and dry! You can cover pans/casserole dishes with it, or wrap your food tightly in it. I love to wrap my blocks of cheese, folding the food wrap as if I am wrapping a gift. See how nicely it holds its shape?
As an added bonus, when you wrap food for school lunches or picnics, this beeswax food wrap doubles as a placemat! Then family members can simply fold it up into a tight square and return it home to be washed and reused.
Caring for your reusable food wrap & other considerations
After use, hand wash your food wrap with cool water and homemade dish soap (or another mild dish soap). Avoid using hot water so the wax doesn’t melt. Allow to air dry on a dish rack. Smooth flat with your hands and store.
You can add more wax (using the above method) once your food wrap is looking worn out and is no longer keeping its shape.
We have found after using this food wrap that it is not completely waterproof or airtight. It does a wonderful job covering casseroles and baked goodies, or wrapping items such as cheese, veggies, sandwiches, cookies, and many other food items. It is not meant for extremely wet or juicy foods, as there will be some leakage in these cases. It works best for short term food storage (less than a few days) and for packing lunches. Because it’s somewhat breathable, your food will not retain moisture if used for long term storage.
What’s the point of making your own?
So if you’re reading this tutorial and wondering why in the sam hill you should try this project, consider these reasons:
- Reusable food wrap is a more sustainable option, preventing toxic plastics from having to be produced.
- It can be washed and reused many times, creating less waste.
- It’s healthier for you to wrap your food in this beeswax fabric rather than having plastic wrapped around your food.
- You’ll save money if you use reusable food wrap instead of purchasing commercial food wrap.
Have you tried something similar to this? What do you like most about the idea?