Reusable Food Wrap from Beeswax on Cotton
Reusable Food Wrap from Beeswax on Cotton
Using What I Learned
In last week’s post, I shared what I learned about plastic pollution, particularly the plastic pollution that makes it into our oceans. Since that post, I’ve been inundated from readers with more information about the scope of the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean and about terrific efforts folks are taking to reduce their plastic footprint. I am more committed than ever to forming better habits to get plastics out of my home!
Making New Habits
I now keep tote bags in both our vehicles so we’re not tempted to use plastic bags. I’m making sure to fill up reusable water bottles whenever we’re headed out. I’m still in search for bamboo straw, in hopes that I can find some that a crafter has made rather than ordering from a company. I hope that you found some inspiration in last week’s post to start taking steps to reduce your plastic footnote as well.
Reducing Plastics in the Kitchen
Another effort I’m making to reduce plastics in my little corner of the world is to move toward non-plastic alternatives in the kitchen. I’m making better use of canning jars and glass containers to replace plastic containers for storing leftovers and staples. I’m using wooden spoons and metal spatulas for cooking instead of plastics. I relish in filling up boxes of plastic goods for donation, but I struggle with the idea that I’m just passing them on to the next person to use. But at least if someone else uses what I choose not to, they’re not buying and bringing new plastics into use.
No More Plastic Cling Wrap
One thing I am committed to never use again is plastic cling wrap. I’ve never been a big user of plastic cling wrap because I can’t ever get it to cut cleanly and I just don’t like the feel of it. I researched how they make cling wrap and what I learned redoubled my efforts to find a replacement. Plastic cling wraps are made from petroleum and they don’t recommend that you let them directly touch food! And sure, aluminum foil is a suitable replacement, and it is recyclable, but there are much better sustainable alternatives.
Solution: Fabric Food Wraps from Beeswax on Cotton
One product I was thrilled to find a year or so ago is reusable food wrap products like Etee or Bees Wrap. I ordered a set of Bees Wrap and have been using them ever since, but I could use some more. Just the warmth of your hands “melts” the wrap around your container or food. Then when you put it in the refrigerator it seals tight. To reuse, just rinse with cool water. If needed, use a tiny bit of mild soap, but it will start to break down your wax treatment so use sparingly. Sure, you can buy a set of these, but I’m going to tell you how to make them yourself!
I looked into it and there are a number of good tutorials online on how to make this reusable wrap out of cotton fabric and beeswax. I found it’s not as easy to make as the tutorials show, so I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks on how to make it come out just right.
Repurpose What You Have
Use 100% cotton fabric that you already have, if possible. Unused bed sheets are the perfect thickness. I found a pack of unused cotton fat quarters in my craft room, so I decided to try that first. (A fat quarter is about a quarter yard of fabric that you can use in quilting or other crafts.)
I found beeswax pellets at a local health food store or you can find online. You could also check with local honey suppliers because they often have beeswax aplenty that you can purchase as well.
Create! DIY Reusable Food Wraps
- 100% cotton fabric
- Beeswax in pellets or shaved curls
- Coconut oil (optional)
- A dedicated cookie sheet pan for wax melting (or cookie sheet, parchment paper, and aluminum foil, if you don’t have one to spare)
- Hard small scraper, like those for removing stuck on food from frying pans or an old credit or hotel key card that you won’t need again
- A clothesline, or a line hung over somewhere a wax drip wouldn’t cause major problems (I strung a line over my kitchen sinks)
- Preheat your oven to as low as it will go, or 200 degrees at most. 185 degrees worked well for me.
- If you have an old cookie sheet that you will never use again for cooking, you can use that. If you don’t have a spare, line it with
aluminum foil first, then cover in parchment paper.
- Clean and iron your fabric, but don’t use starch or other sprays.
- Cut your fabric no larger than will lie flat on your cookie sheet.
- I find that rectangle shapes work best for wrapping baking pans or long vegetables like celery. Circle shapes work better for covering smaller vegetables or round bowls.
- Lie your fabric out flat on the cookie sheet, right side up. Make sure it doesn’t go up the sides of the pan at all.
- Sprinkle a light to moderate amount of the beeswax across the fabric, making sure to spread it everywhere. Add a few some small dabs of coconut oil around, if desired.
- Be sure to distribute your wax evenly, including around the edges.
- Being careful not to tilt the cookie sheet and redistribute the wax, move your pan to your heated oven. It doesn’t matter which rack you put it on, just make sure you can see it clearly through the door.
- Leave it in there just until the wax is melted.
- Be careful not to burn your hands on the cookie sheet!
- Working quickly, use the small hard scraper to scrape the fabric from the center outward toward the ends. Make sure to spread the wax evenly and to cover every surface.
- The fabric cools pretty quickly. If you applied too much, run it outside quickly and shake off any excess wax.
- Quickly flip your coated fabric over and again scrape from the center outward.
- Put your coated fabric back in the oven for another couple of minutes.
- Pull it out and repeat the scrape from the center outward on both sides.
- Drape your coated fabric over your clothesline and leave alone until dry.
Try it Out!
Take a glass or wooden bowl and cover with your coated fabric. Your fabric may be rather stiff at this point, but it softens up after the first use or two. Working all the way around the bowl, press the fabric to the bowl with your hands and leave your hands in place for just a second or two with each press.
These wraps are great to use directly on food as well. I wrap homemade loaves of crusty bread with them and they keep well. Before going vegan, I would use these wraps on a chunk of cheese and it would last a long time in the fridge. I’ve wrapped up half an apple or tomato, or made a “package” from the wrap for slices of peppers, cukes, and celery. Be creative in your use of these wraps! Just cover your food and gently press and hold with your warm hands to get the wrap to cling.
These fabric wraps are easy to maintain as long as you don’t use them to cover very juicy things. Some foods like tomatoes may stain a light color wrap, but that’s never bothered me. To clean, just run your wrap under cool water and don’t use soap unless necessary. Soap will start to break down the beeswax and coconut oil. I lay mine flat to dry then fold into quarters and store in a drawer until needed again.
Now, repeat this process for as many as you think you will use! They also make great gifts for friends who are also interested in reducing their use of plastics in the kitchen.
To continue my theme this month, next week I’ll share with you a recipe whose ingredients you can find with minimal to no new plastics coming in to your home! One important technique to reduce our plastic footprint is to shop the bulk bins at the grocery store, rather than buying food with plastic packaging. The recipe I’ve chosen uses a selection of fresh veggies that should be available to you from bulk bins (potatoes, leeks, garlic, onions, and fresh thyme). But remember to take reusable bags to load your produce in rather than use the plastic bags they offer in the produce section! You’re going to wash or peel them anyway, so skip the plastic bags! I hope that every time you make this recipe you will forgo the plastic bags and choose food from the bulk bins.
I’m a firm believer that if enough of us vocalize our desire for less plastic packaging in grocery stores and restaurants we can start to influence the product stream coming at us. Take a moment to talk with your grocery store clerks and managers, or your servers or managers of restaurants you patronize and let them know how much you value choices they can make to reduce or eliminate plastics. And that especially goes for single-use plastics – bags, bottles, and straws. See last week’s post for more information.
To end this month, I’ll share with you more great ways that we can all use to further reduce our plastic footprint. I’ve learned about some great organizations that are working to reduce plastic pollution, especially ocean plastic pollution. I can’t thank my son’s partner Sweetie enough for sharing so many great resources with me, as well as the great pictures from my first post! Reducing ocean plastic is a special passion of hers and she’s making an impact in so many ways.
I’ll also share with you a number of tips gathered from around the web, and a few of my own as well on how to reduce our plastic use. Start taking a fresh look around your home and notice all of the plastic. Hopefully you’ll find some useful tips in the next post that will help you find replacements for some of those plastic items.
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you come again soon!
Peace and be well.
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