How to Care for Beeswax Wraps.
In a world that is fast becoming more and more environmentally conscious, beeswax food wraps are quickly gaining acceptance as a tangible way in which every household can help decrease waste and pollution and avoid contamination of food with dangerous chemicals. Australia currently produces around 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, the vast majority of which ends up as landfill. Single-use plastics such as cling wraps are of particular concern as they are immediately discarded. The chemicals used in their manufacture have been implicated in causing health problems such as high blood pressure, breast cancer and reduced fertility in men.
Beeswax wraps offer a reusable solution that relies upon the remarkable properties of this incredible organic substance. With inherent antibacterial qualities, beeswax wraps create a potent barrier for moisture and can effectively preserve a wide variety of foods. They are cost effective, easy to use, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Beeswax never goes bad; beeswax wraps have a natural ‘grip’ and they can be reused over and over again and can be periodically refreshed as required.
But how do you take care of your beeswax wraps?
It is important to remember that heat will melt the wax so avoid heat sources such as ovens, stoves and microwaves. Wait for vessels to cool to room temperature before covering with the wraps. Similarly, store your wraps flat in a cool, dry spot – perhaps on a shelf in a cupboard, or in the same drawer in which you keep your tea towels.
Beeswax wraps will not require washing after every use, and although they are quite durable, repeated cleaning will eventually take its toll. If you do need to clean your wraps it is best to use only cold water, under which the wrap will become quite stiff – not unlike a plate. Be gentle and spot clean if possible; you can rinse the wraps or wipe them with a damp cloth or sponge but avoid dowsing them with water unnecessarily. A little eco-friendly, alcohol-free dishwashing liquid may be beneficial, but do not scrub with hard brushes or pot cleaners, as this will damage the wax coating.
After cleaning, lay your wraps flat on a soft towel and pat them dry. Then air dry by attaching them to a line or place on the dish rack. Residual smells will usually disappear if they are aired for a few days; never wring dry.
It is also important to remember that beeswax wraps are generally not recommended for uncooked meats, including fish, and are also unsuitable for some fruits, such as pineapple, which contain potentially damaging enzymes. Try not to stretch the wraps when covering containers.
Despite the best of care, eventually your beeswax wraps will require additional maintenance. Cracks in the wax layer can be fixed with the aid of a hairdryer, or by placing the wrap in the sun. Eventually (perhaps after about a year) beeswax wraps will start to lose their grip; the wax may start to flake or wear off. They can then be rejuvenated using an oven pre-heated to around 140oC. Place your wrap onto a non-stick baking mat or tray; you can ‘re-wax’ by grating additional beeswax onto any areas where it is required. Then pop the wrap into the oven for a couple of minutes, until the wax just melts. Remove from the oven and hang up to air dry; after about a minute your wrap will be as good as new.
With good care, your beeswax wraps may provide you with up to two years of use. Eventually they can be repurposed as a fire starter, or alternatively simply added to your compost.