In the spirit of war on waste, I finally bought a reusable takeaway coffee cup. Earlier, The Other Girl had gifted me a beeswax food wrap. I decided I was going to stop, or at least drastically reduce, my use of plastic wrap and plastic bags.
My first attempt at rendering wax from our hives didn’t go so well. Forever hopeful, I shared my cunning plan with the crafty, Lovely Cathy who immediately mobilised, researching recipes and ordering stock on line.
One weekend recently, I travelled to her Eastern Shore haunt to find it covered in drop sheets, bain-marie heating in her slow cooker and a box of food wraps parcelled up for sale at Hobart’s Flower Room.
Here’s what I learnt from her about making food wraps.
How to make food wraps?
- Say no to Polyester – for maximum wax take up and to maintain the wrap’s shape, choose pure cotton.
- 100% protection – dig out your drop sheets, pull cardboard boxes apart and even consider putting foil down over your stove. Melted wax is messy and it’s going to go everywhere. Look after your things.
- Get the gear – there are certain things that will help you do the job depending on scale and time. Because things are going to get messy and wax is a nuisance to get off, get equipment specifically for the job.
- Lovely Cathy has gone into production, so she’s found that melting the ingredients in a bain-marie is most efficient and the size of the bain-marie was more sympathetic to the different shapes and sizes of our wraps.
Here are the items we used:
- spatula – for stirring the ingredients, smoothing the wax over the material and removing the excess wax from trays
- chunky pegs for gently holding the edges of your material
- large baking trays wrapped in foil and two layers of baking paper
- baking paper covering the drop sheets on your bench tops to sit the wraps on after they’ve come out of the oven
- clothes drying rack for hanging the finished food wraps on to dry out
- an apron you are never going to be able to wash.
The ingredients are beeswax, resin and jojoba oil. The ratios are 100 grams of beeswax to 25 grams of gum resin and 30 mls of oil. This combination makes the wrap pliable for folding and refolding. Adding jojoba helps to make the wrap soft and prevents the wax cracking. Beeswax is water repellent and has natural antibacterial properties and resin and jojoba have anti-fungal properties.
What do you need?
I decant leftovers into containers but there are exceptions to the rule – lasagne or other baked dishes, half avocados, half eaten bowls of food. We made a variety of shapes to cover off the different sizes of my baking dishes, food bowls and a smaller size for the avocado (sometimes you only need a half) both in square/oblong and rounds.
How to make food wraps?
- Wash, dry and iron your 100% cotton fabric
- Decide the shapes and sizes you need and cut them. For optimum results you’ll use a crafting/sewing rotary cutter, cutting board with measurements and various sized bowls. Alternatively use rulers, bowls and scissors or pinking shears.
- Melt and combine ingredients.
- Dip each piece of material individually and let the excess wax drip off. Lay each piece flat on your prepared tray and brush over with your spatula to evenly coat and push excess wax away from the edges.
- Bake in a low oven for a few minutes.
- Remove from the oven and when cool enough to pick up, hold on the very edges and gently flap until the wax is practically room temperature.
- Lay the food wraps flat to start the drying process and then when not too tacky, hang them over the clothes horse for an hour.
- Fold up and stash in your kitchen drawer or start using your new food wraps!
A couple of extra tips:
For smaller jobs, you might go the simplest route of grating beeswax over your cloth and ironing it. This is a link to one such recipe. Another method is to melt the wax mix then spoon it directly on to your fabric on a baking tray then put it into the oven for a few minutes.
Tea tree oil helps with the clean-up of wax.
Food wraps should last up to 12 months if you look after them. Because you wash them in cold water they’re not recommended for use with meat.
We’re new to food wraps so we haven’t tried this yet but we have heard they can be freshened up by putting into the oven for a few minutes to redistribute the wax.
Happy to let your beautician deal with the wax?
If you’d rather have fun with something other than wax you can always buy a few. The Lovely Cathy has her food wraps for sale at the Flower Room.
The Flower Room is located at 108 Liverpool Street and they’re open weekdays between 8.30 am – 3.45 pm. They’re also on Facebook – The Flower Room Hobart.
Got any tips from making your own food wraps you’d like to share?
We’d love to hear from you.