Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Recycled, Reusable Beeswax Cotton Food Wraps

I am always looking for new ways to save money, stretch our budget, and add to our sustainability. I was intrigued when I came across a post on facebook from My Healthy Green Family and thought to myself, I have to try this out. I am aware of many reports about BPA leaching into food from plastics, but I confess I have not changed over from using disposable plastic containers and using products like Saran wrap® to cover our food. Until now, I just did not have a suitable replacement. That changed yesterday when I followed the directions and created my own Reusable Beeswax Cotton Food Wraps.

I used a couple of clean 100% cotton pillow cases I had on hand and some sheets of 100% beeswax which I had tucked away to use for candle making one of these days. All that was left to find was an old cookie sheet and a large paint brush that I would never use for another purpose again.

I began by preheating the oven to 180*. Our oven begins at 200*, so I made a guess. Once set, I turned my attention to measuring out four 8 inch squares in my fabric. Because it occurred to me that the left over fabric would be perfect for new spring valances over my kitchen window, I cut them out with that in mind. (I purposely left myself long panels of the fabric with a pocket sewn into it already. This will save me some time when it comes time to whip up those curtains.) Following the straight line already afforded in the checked pattern as my guide, it was easy to cut out the squares I wanted. I decided to cut out two additional 12 inch squares for covering larger bowls and plates.

The next step was to cut the beeswax into small slivers. The article I read suggested shredding the wax for better coverage and that probably would have made for more uniformed coverage, but I did not want to have to wash the beeswax from my good (read that only) grater, so I used my scissors and it worked out just fine. I placed 2 squares of fabric side by each on my baking sheet and sprinkled the wax slivers across it. Remember the wax will expand as it melts. Less is more in this case. It is easy to add more wax if you need it. I think starting with too much max might make the fabric harder to fold around bowls, the wax might flake away, or it might leave unsightly globs on the fabric.

Once I thought I had enough wax covering my fabric, I placed it into the oven. I used the timer on my oven to find that it took just about 2 minutes for the wax to be completely melted. Using pot holders, I removed the pan from the oven and used the paint brush in a swishing motion from center to sides to evenly distribute the wax, fully coating the fabric. You can tell that it is fully coated because the color of the fabric becomes darker and appears wet. I used my fingers to remove the waxed fabric to a drying line to cool. I did not find it uncomfortably hot to use my fingers, but they were coated with beeswax. I considered that a bonus, hot wax treatment, too! :) If you prefer, you could use tongs to remove the fabric from your pan, though. Within minutes the fabric cooled and was ready for use. In the image above, the wrap is easily folded around the edge of the bowl and no additional fastener is needed to secure it, but if you are concerned, an elastic band would do the trick nicely, I think.

To wash the wraps, the article suggested running cold water over them. Curious, I did not wait until they were soiled to attempt that. Because the wax permeates the cotton and coats both sides, the water beads up nicely and runs off. I expect that any food particles that stick to the wraps will come off easily. And, I experimented with swishing them around in warm water for a few minutes to see if the wax would run off. It did not, but the material seemed to soften somewhat from its original semi-hardened form. Once dry, it re-hardened into moldable sheets. I suspected hot water would not be advisable to use and did not push my experiment further to see for myself.

The entire project from beginning to end took about an hour to create 6 waxed cotton food wraps. I love how this project came out. So much so, that I plan to create more using local beeswax and recycled cotton to sell at the farmer's markets and craft events I attend this year. Now, I have an inexpensive, reusable, washable solution to storing and preserving my family's food in the refrigerator that is completely all natural. That is a win-win-win in my book!  I am reconsidering those plastic tubs holding other food items lurking in my fridge. Hmmm.....

I have a couple other posts in the works for you all that include updates on homestead happenings, pictures and videos, and information about the upcoming Open Homestead Day on June 21st. I'll get them posted through this week as I can. Thanks so much for visiting with us today. I am really glad for your company.

Have you tried reusable food storage options? Which work the best for you?

Sonja ♥

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