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Semi-Disposable Disposables

Submitted by: lizpike on August 14, 2011
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Semi-Disposable Disposables

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Do you cringe every time you use plastic wrap, foil, or parchment baking paper knowing after one use it will go in the trash? Have you tried the more durable counterparts only to find those substitutes don’t work as well as the disposable they replaced, or that they …

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Do you cringe every time you use plastic wrap, foil, or parchment baking paper knowing after one use it will go in the trash? Have you tried the more durable counterparts only to find those substitutes don’t work as well as the disposable they replaced, or that they are hard to find and/or expensive? I have found an alternative that lies somewhere between disposable and durable, and yes, that even includes clingy, grippy, aggravating plastic wrap!

Everything from Tupperware to Rubbermaid to store-brand plastic containers can keep one from using too much plastic wrap. But there’s one job for which I’ve yet to find a suitable alternative, and that’s to cover proofing dough. Whenever I’ve used the suggestion to cover the dough with tea towels, the fabric sticks to the dough no matter how much I butter or oil the dough. The towel also doesn’t retain heat to encourage the rising like I like.

I tried using plastic storage containers, large enough to put in a cookie sheet of rolls or multiple loaves of bread, but the containers are unwieldy in tight kitchens, and still the dough seems to form a slight crust, thus halting the rising process. So how could I re-use plastic wrap for this job? I found out accidentally one busy weekend making up tray after tray of my mashed potato rolls for a potluck supper.

I rotated the plastic between sets of cookie sheets, raising 2 pans of rolls at a time. I’d take the plastic off the set of rolls ready to go into the oven, and put it on another set of rolls ready to rise. The more I used the plastic, the more covered with oil and butter it became.  Soon it wasn’t sticking to itself, and I was able to carefully fold the sheet, and put it in a Ziplock bag to keep in the fridge until I made bread again.  I used that plastic weekly for 2 months before I needed to replace it.

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That got me to thinking about how I could re-use my parchment and foil. The parchment doesn’t last as long. It tends to get brown and brittle, but I’ve found I can get 2-5 uses out of it before it needs replacing. If I’ve put something like garlic butter or poppy seeds on the previous dough I don’t use it for cookies or something else where the flavors might linger and clash. I wipe off the parchment, fold it loosely, and put it in it’s own Ziploc bag in the fridge.

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(Note to self: time to make more of Suzanne’s Pepperoni Rolls ;))

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Lastly, foil.  Foil is it’s own animal as it is often used to cover things like meat or cheese that make it hard to clean without tearing it. However, I’ve found if I use deeper dishes or tent the foil slightly on top, the food doesn’t touch the foil and I can re-use it without too much cleaning. Some of this foil I’m using a year later.

I’ve got specific pieces of foil for specific dishes that didn’t come with their own covers.

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The better quality product you start with, the easier it will be to re-use and the longer it will last, especially heavy duty foil. The Ziploc bags easily fit in a crowded fridge since they are flat and can take some smooshing.

This may seem a small thing to those not having to budget as tightly as others. But even if my purse strings were looser, I like doing this for the environment, and I like having one less thing to keep on my grocery list (and one less thing to forget to buy while I’m there!), one less thing to carry in the house, and one less thing to jam into non-existent storage. And just in case you might think I’m weird or something, you won’t find paper towels hanging on my clothesline, but I am weird. Just saying…

Disclaimer: This does not pertain to She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named who has a foil addiction. Amen.

Liz Pike blogs at Horseshoe Gardens.

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Comments

16 comments | RSS feed for comments of this post

  1. 8-14
    3:27
    am

    the non-stick aluminum foil is very reuseable…but don’t tell Alcoa

  2. 8-14
    6:30
    am

    I use waxed paper (the store brand), sprayed with non-stick spray, on top of my bread when it is rising. Seems to work pretty good. I also use it to wrap sandwiches, and to line a box when I take cookies to a pot luck. Even found holiday-decorated wax paper one time.
    Haven’t tried to re-use it though!

  3. 8-14
    9:02
    am

    Whatever you use to cover the dough, there is a simple way to remove it if it sticks – simply dampen the cloth before placing it on the dough. If it has dried by the time the dough has risen, dribble a little bit of water on it and it will pull off easily.

    Right now I’ve been using paper towels to cover my bread dough (with the dampening trick), and it comes right off – no mess, no fuss, no drama. I’m trying to convince my husband to buy the different kinds of towels for the kitchen (tea towels, cheesecloth, etc) but since he doesn’t spend much time in the kitchen, he doesn’t understand the necessity ~sigh~

  4. 8-14
    12:35
    pm

    I always use a slightly damp (not dripping) kitchen towel over my rising bread. I also feel bad about using these disposable products. I tend to only use foil not plastic wrap because I can at least recycle the foil. We also wash and reuse plastic bags. At least until they develop holes.

  5. 8-14
    1:27
    pm

    We reuse foil & parchment paper. I hardly use plastic wrap. We also reuse wax paper. I save the bags that come out of the cereal boxes – they’re great for a number of things & I can also seal them with my vacuum sealer. We save bread bag (if we BUY bread) & I used them a lot-doubled-in the freezer. I also reseal a lot of bags with the vacuum sealer (potato chips, etc.) & use my butter wrappers for greasing pans. All of the corn that I froze, I froze & vacuum sealed in cereal bags this year. I also wash the zipper bags. It’s amazing what we can save if we think about it! Thanks for this post – it was great!

  6. 8-14
    1:38
    pm

    Thanks!

    What a great post —

    Judi

  7. 8-14
    1:53
    pm

    I love this idea! I always cringe when I throw away perfectly good reusables, but didn’t know how to keep them from being a health hazard. It never occurred to me to put them in the refrigerator!

  8. 8-14
    3:50
    pm

    I also re-use parchment or foil as much as possible. My daughter in law raves about using a silpat…but I cringe at the price. Does anyone have any experience with those to justify the price?

  9. 8-14
    5:37
    pm

    My grandmother taught me to reuse the cereal box liners. She would store stuff in them, wrap sandwiches in them and also cut them flat to roll dough out on. My grandmother saved every thing. OH the twist ties that lady had. She also saves string that comes off of like bird seed bags. She has such a huge ball out or it. She is funny.

  10. 8-15
    12:00
    am

    I have four silpats now … I put out the word before my birthday one year that I was hoping for a silpat and netted two, another two at Christmas. Since I do major cookie baking during the holidays, all four silpats are a godsend. I use them all the time on baking sheets.

    I fold clean foil in wait for a second use all the time. Although I also use clear wrap and wax paper, a single roll of either lasts a long time as I’ve also purchased (on markdown) reusable bowl covers that look like tiny shower caps. Great post! particularly like the reuse of the plastic wrap for rising dough.

  11. 8-15
    8:10
    am

    I have one silpat and two cheaper silicone mats and love them all. I re- use etc, but I have fallen for the toppers that look like cheap shower caps (very thin plastic) they have elastic round the edges, locally one of the Dollar Stores has them for $1 per box of 20. They come in three different sizes and because the elastic keeps the tops taut and up out of the food are easier to keep clean. If you are careful they will wash a couple of times. Especially good when taking food to Pot Lucks you can see what is in the bowls and no danger of your glass lid getting broken or misplaced.

  12. 8-15
    10:35
    am

    I have a silpat and a couple of the cheaper ones. Haven’t used them much because they’re just a little too big for my cookie sheets…don’t know if I can cut them. Does anyone here know?
    They do work well, though, clean easily, and roll up for storage in the cupboard.

  13. 8-15
    11:49
    am

    I had forgotton about the shower cap thing. I buy the cheap ones at the dollar store to – they are fabulous!

  14. 8-15
    1:38
    pm

    Brookdale, I’m pretty sure you could cut them with scissors.
    I love my Silpat and think it was worth every penny. So much, that I bought another one. The big bed and bath/kitchen stores carry them and they run coupons a lot so you can use that. I have had mine for years and its good as new. If you divide the cost per year, its actually very cheap. In addition to baking, I also use mine for freezing berries on a tray or other things. Once frozen, they pop right off. And I also like the shower cap things.

  15. 8-15
    5:34
    pm

    Great comments, everyone! And I love the additional suggestions!

    I’d forgotten about those shower cap things. My grandmother used to have some from way back, and then a couple of years ago I think it was Glad who brought them back. They didn’t stay around long.

    Has anyone tried those plastic “vacuum” lids?

  16. 8-26
    10:01
    am

    Brookdale – everyone – do *not* cut a Silpat or any other silicone utility. The interior materials will leech into your food. Details at the Silpat site:
    http://silpat.com/Care-Use.html

    The Silpat is too large for my trays also, by about an inch or two. I just let the edges curve a bit to fit it. It works fine that way, and I haven’t had any cookies slide into each other either.

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