Let’s talk about something other than food!
Alright, so this is still food-related, but it’s at least a little bit crafty, so that makes it alright, yes? I’ll assume that was a yes. Way back in March I was ogling the oh-so-pretty beeswax food wraps a number of bloggers have been posting about, when I happened to mention to Maria how irritated I was that our local “eco yuppie” store didn’t carry any. She kind of looked at me and was like “Okay, so it’s cotton that’s had beeswax melted into it. Why don’t you just make it?!” and I felt kind of stupid because… uh, yeah? Why not?!
Happily Karen came to my rescue with this piece of brilliance. So then all I had to do was get some cotton (check: I’ve had a huge swatch of cotton muslin sitting in my craft room since I moved away from my hometown), and some beeswax. Lucky for me, the Easter Sale at our farmer’s market (which doesn’t start up for real till Mother’s Day) was coming up, so I headed out, chatted with the two bee farmers (apiarists? I don’t know what the right word is) and came away with a lovely, organic chunk o’ beeswax.
(When I’d found that they didn’t sell the wax in pellets, I had been careful to ask if it was hard to grate on a cheese grater. The lady informed me that it was super easy, and she did it all the time, to use in her chocolate. She went on to warn me that if I did choose to mix the wax into a chocolate, to know that it would create a bloom on the finished product, but I was kind of hung up on the beeswax in chocolate thing. Really? I am at once intrigued and confused by this idea.)
Anyway. So I figured out what sizes I wanted (mostly little ones and one ginormous one for wrapping up dough), overlocked the edges of a couple, then got impatient, grated up my beeswax (it doesn’t take much!), threw it all in the oven, and got… beeswax food wraps! This was back in early April. I wanted to test-drive them a little before reporting back, see?
Thus far, I have used my beeswax cloths to wrap…
- Blocks of cheese. Honestly, I think this is probably the task that suits them best.
- Cut ends of cucumbers. Also pretty good: they hold their shape well around the narrow cuke.
- Cut end of fresh dog food tube (about 3″ in diameter). This they are not so good at. They keep it fresh, but slide off if I don’t supplement with an elastic. Also, for people who get squeamish about washing away (cooked) meat residue with just soapy, cold water, there’s that to keep in mind too.
- Bowls of leftovers. I actually made these slightly too small for the normal sized bowls, so I mostly tested on really small bowls and my bento container. It is not water-tight, but it definitely works in terms of freshness!
- Pâte brisée dough (using my jumbo cloth). I used this both to let it sit in the fridge while making it, and for a little over a week afterwards. When I took it out, the dough was still very pliable, with nary a dry crusty bit; I was impressed!
Honestly, it took me a little experimentation to get the quantity of beeswax right, but these are so easy to make, and I love having something quick to hand for doughs, cheese and veggies. (I put most leftovers in glass containers that already have lids anyway, so that was more to test the wrap than anything else.) I have not yet tried the large wrap over a bowl of bread dough rising, but I feel confident that it would work out fine.
Washing them is super-simple (just remember not to use hot water!!) and I’ve not noticed any lingering food smells after use (even with the cheese ones!) although beeswax has a pretty strong smell of its own. That’s actually the one “warning” I would give with these: if you don’t like the smell of beeswax… you probably won’t like these. I didn’t find that it rubbed off onto any foods (and cucumber is usually pretty spongey about absorbing flavours and smells), but when the sheets are just lying around, you can definitely smell it.
After a couple of uses, there are visible creases where the wrap has been folded around before, although the creases are less visible in the sheets with more wax. (The one shown above has a little less wax in it than some of the other sheets; I would say it has the worst of the crinkling.) I imagine that if that bugged me I could warm them up a little in my hands (or oven) and roll them flat again or something, but so far I haven’t noticed that it’s affected fresh-keeping-ness any, so I haven’t really worried about it. I do regret not finishing the edges of the other little cloths (they look so much cuter!) but there’s no noticeable difference to the stability of the edge, with all that wax.
We don’t eat sandwiches so I didn’t bother making any sandwich wrappers (see also: lazy), but I would suggest that if you’re going to, you find some patterned or colourful cotton to use. (Although if you’re really worried about dyes in contact with your food, then maybe not, yadda yadda.) No real reason you couldn’t do that for all of your wraps, but it seems like kind of a waste on something that’s just holding your cheese in the fridge. If you’re taking your snazzy beeswax sandwich packet to work for lunch though… why not make it awesome and cute?
Last thought: I’d be interested in laying out my large cloth on a surface where I was rolling out dough to see if it prevents sticking. If I ever get around to it, I’ll report back.
And… that pretty much sums up my beeswax food wrap experience!