16 February 2016

Finding Alternatives


I try to be a mindful food shopper, only buying what we need to prevent food waste but it is really hard to completely reduce the packaging food is wrapped in.  Everything comes packaged in materials, sometimes excessively so, but then there are many foods that it wouldn't be terribly practical to transport without some form of packaging.  It is all a bit of minefield but it is all too easy to think, oh that can be recycled I am not convinced that that it is a valid argument at all times.  It can make us lazy.

I stopped buying cling film a long time ago.  I didn't like the idea of wrapping my food in plastic and, it seemed very wasteful.  It is not easy to reuse, by its very nature it sticks to itself, so neither washing it or storing it between uses is remotely practical.  But what to use instead.  Cling film performs many jobs, amongst which it stops food drying out, I have been struggling with this since stopping buying it.  Nothing I used to cover bread rising or dough resting was quite the same.  It was whilst looking for inspiration for Christmas presents that I found my solution, beeswax coated cloth.   You can buy these from a few places online but my inspiration came from a craft book found in the library, a how to make your own.  Perfect!

It was January before I had a chance to give it a try.  I collected together the materials I needed.  A grater, paintbrush, beeswax, fabric and pinking shears.  Everything I read suggested having a separate grater for this job, one that will never grate food.  We already had one as we grate blocks of soap to make our own liquid soap.  The paintbrush is washable in boiling water if you don't want to go out and buy an extra one, although again I read suggestions to have a designated one.  The beeswax I bought took me into a whole new world of language.  When I looked in to what I needed I discovered that not all beeswax is 100% natural, that some is food grade, some cosmetic grade, some is really hard to grate.  It seemed like a bit of a minefield but I wanted to buy as local as possible, I get my candles from a local candlemaker but he didn't use his own beeswax to make them and suggested I contacted his supplier, who was also local.  Personal recommendations are always the best aren't they, it led me to exactly what I needed, a block of beeswax that was easy to grate and had no hidden added extra ingredients.  It smelt wonderful too. The fabric was the easy bit, it needed to be light and 100% cotton I have plenty of that.  The pinking shears are to cut it to prevent fraying so there is no need for any sewing.

So what do you do?  Grate the beeswax.  Cut the fabric to size.  Put the oven on a low heat (I found 30°C just right).  Put the fabric on a baking tray (you might want to line it with something to stop the wax melting onto it).  Sprinkle the beeswax over the fabric as evenly as possible as if you were making cheese on toast.  Place in the oven.  Check often and when the wax is just beginning to melt and soften remove from the oven and spread the wax all over the fabric with the paintbrush (you can check on the reverse to see if it is evenly spread).  Hang up to cool and dry.  As easy as that.

If you don't spread the wax around with the paintbrush you will find that you get small pools of melted wax with gaps in between.  Don't worry if this happens just sprinkle some more wax and return to the oven.  It is better to start with less wax rather than more, you can always keep addding!  I made a small test one first and then tried some bigger pieces.  I cut them to fit the dishes and bowls that I wanted to be able to cover.  If, like me, you find that they are bigger than your oven just coat half of the fabric at a time, carefully draping the rest of the fabric out the way.  This is when you realise that you should have really cleaned the oven a little better before starting.........

I have only been using mine for a few weeks and they are wearing well.  I am told that you can recoat them, time will tell.  I made a set for a friend which were really well received (they are the fabrics in the photo).  They must only be washed with cold water and a mild soap to clean so are not suitable for storing meat.  They can be molded, just by the warmth of your hands, to fit any shape of dish or food.  They are not suitable for food containing a lot of moisture.  Making your own not only works out a lot cheaper but you get to choose whatever fabric you like.  I love them!

********************

I will be back on Saturday to share more of what I have been up to in my kitchen this month.  You can join me if you want to share what you have making and eating this month. 


54 comments:

  1. Very cool, great idea. So if you can't wrap meat or moist things in it, are you using it to cover bowls?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry I didn't make it very clear you can cover food that it is a little moist just not very wet food! At the moment I am mostly using it to cover bowls, but also to take food out and about like cheese, cut bread, scones, veg sticks etc.

      Delete
  2. So very cool. I was gifted some for Christmas but have yet to put them to the test. You have me excited to try them out now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh lucky you! Hope you get on with them!

      Delete
  3. I had seen these beeswax cloths on another blog and thought to try them so your info on the different types of beeswax is useful. I remember the time before clingfilm - something I hate as it always seems to stick to everything except the thing I am trying to cover and once it gets stuck to itself there's no sorting it out again! - we used to use greaseproof paper for wrapping things and for stuff you put in the fridge (we didn't always have one of those either) a plate over the top of the dish or bowl. I just cover my bread with a clean teacloth and find it works well and probably allows local yeasts in the air access too I don't know. We didn't have plastic bags of any kind when I was a child either and I am trying to remember the old ways myself so as to use less of the wretched stuff though plastic bags are so useful for wet flannels or dirty shoes when packing, for wet umbrellas when it stops raining and so on so I do have a few which I wash and reuse though I have made fabric bags lined with old shower curtain material to use instead too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the idea of fabric bags lined with old shower curtains that's brilliant! It is about remembering how things were stored before plastic bags, although food shopping was done almost every day so the need for storage was reduced. I also use grease proof paper but again it seems wasteful as it has a limited life before being recycled.

      Delete
  4. what a brilliant idea, I've seen then around before but it never occurred to me to make them :) my only problem is sourcing the beeswax as I would prefer to buy local, so I shall have to see if I can find a supplier :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sure you will find a local supplier there seems to be places all over the country when I looked online :). Have fun making them.

      Delete
  5. That is a fantastic idea.
    Thank you.
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing! Whenever I shop at the big groceries store I cringe when I see how much plastic they use! I have an organic shop next to my house and instead of plastic bags they give you cardboard boxes. So much better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow an organic shop next your house, that would be fantastic!

      Delete
  7. What a great idea. You get to use such pretty fabric too, much nicer than clingfilm.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ingenious! What a fab idea, I bet they look so pretty too. So to use them, do you have to warm them to mold them to the bowl/dish, or would you need to tie them on? You must take some photos of them in use! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The warmth of your hands molds them to the shape you need, no need to tie them.

      I will take some photos and share!

      Delete
  9. well isn't that interesting! I do by cling wrap but only use it sparingly. I also try to buy with the least amount of packaging as possible. It really is trying to do everything possible to have a low carbon footprint.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is Karen, we all find our way which is important as everyone's needs are different.

      Delete
  10. Oh this is an interesting idea. I may have to give it a go. I don't really buy or use cling film all that often. I tend to out a plate over things in the fridge and I never get round to baking my own bread right now unfortunately.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use the plate method too ;) but I am loving these wraps too.

      Delete
  11. Very interesting - I haven't heard of this. For wrapping food, have you tried freezer paper? If you google Reynolds freezer paper, you will find that it is actually sold in this country for use in quilting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do use that too, but after a few uses it needs throwing I wnated something that I could use again and again ;)

      Delete
  12. I have bought a beeswax covering product in the past and was not thrilled with it. We only use plastic wrap to store hard cheese and I could not get the beeswax wrap tight enough against the cheese to prevent it from drying out and molding. I think it is fantastic that you made this yourself and that you love it so much. We have plenty of beeswax from when we used to make and sell candles, so maybe I would have better luck with my own product.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It can be hard to get it really tight although I do wrap my cheese in a really big sheet of it which seems to work. I never used cling film/plastic wrap for hard cheese as I was always led to believe it would get too sweaty and go mouldy?

      Delete
    2. Hmm, that is always how we keep ours in the fridge - cheddar, parmesan, and cheese like that. On an unrelated note - I sent you an email to your yahoo account.

      Delete
  13. What an interesting idea, thank you for sharing. I do use plastic wrap, but a roll can last a year or more in my kitchen. I use it mainly to wrap meat for the freezer. I find it's the only way I can get an airtight seal to prevent freezer burn. The wrapped meat goes into a freezer bag and keeps for a few months if necessary, but we usually eat it sooner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are some things it is really difficult to find an alternative for aren't there!

      Delete
  14. Strangely enough I've been reading about beeswax today because I've been looking for candles. I discovered that it only needs to be 51% beeswax to be called 'pure'. The rest can be anything. What a con.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I found that too which is why I needed to be careful what I bought. It's a bit like free range eggs the definition of free range is well hardly that!

      Delete
  15. Great idea! thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. So great! I mostly just wash (and rewash) plastic bags that find their way into our home, but I bought a couple of these beeswax cloths and I like them a lot. I also used a similar method to make wipe able placemats.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do the same with my plastic bags too but they don't last for ever!

      Delete
  17. I've never heard of beeswax cloth before and find this very interesting. What's even better is that you get to choose all the pretty fabrics if you want to make them. A great idea, very useful. X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You do indeed Marion which is a huge plus!

      Delete
  18. I've always wanted an alternative to cling film for covering rising bread dough too. I just use a tea towel but it isn't really up to the job ... xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It isn't is the seal is not airtight enough and the dough dries out :(. These work a treat.

      Delete
  19. What a fantastic idea - I'm always fighting with the cling film roll. I've seen some of these cloths advertised but it never occurred to me to make them. They're so pretty too; I'm sure your friend will be thrilled. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are really expensive to buy I have found so I wondered about making them and they seem to be working.

      Delete
  20. Oh that's such a great idea. I've wanted to try them ( we haven't used cling film for ages) but never thought of making my own. What sort of grade beeswax did you end up with by the way?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sure what the grade is but it is the place my local candlemaker buys his wax. They are a small family business who run a bee farm. I spoke to them on the phone about their wax and they assured me it was 100%. It smells divine :). They use it themselves to make skin products.

      Delete
  21. love this! i really do not like wrapping or storing food in plastic either!

    ReplyDelete
  22. so brilliant! I had no idea you could make your own but it makes perfect sense that its possible. thanks so much for sharing, once again I come away having learnt something useful and new : ) xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't either, I stumbled in a tutorial when I was searching for something else.

      Delete
  23. What a great idea!!!I love the material that you've picked.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I hate using cling film too. Thanks for sharing this idea!

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a great idea, as another non clingfilm user (and with a very local honey farm!) I will definitely try this, thank you!

    ReplyDelete

Hello......would love to hear from you :)