Monday, September 24, 2018

Vegan Food Wraps!

Photo of finished vegan food wraps hanging on a clothesline on a wooden deck.

#VeganMoFo18 Day 24 - Vegan Food Wraps

When we went zero waste, one of the things we did was work to eliminate plastic from our kitchen. Moving from plastic containers to glass was fairly easy, we just moved things from tubs to glass jars, whether ones we had or ones we bought from thrift or other stores. But we needed something to seal large bowls that we didn't have lids for and things that didn't fit into glass containers, something to replace plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Even though aluminum foil is recyclable, we wanted to find a reusable option. I'd seen beeswax wraps, but we personally don't use bee products (honey, beeswax, etc). 

I figured there had to be a vegan alternative to the beeswax food wraps, so I did some internet searching. Lo and behold, I found vegan wraps, but I also discovered instructions for making beeswax wraps in the process. So I did some searching on that, and came across a great resource for making non-beeswax vegan food wraps! I absolutely love Joan from Break + Remake, and she has an awesome video on how to make vegan food wraps! The recipe amounts are in the notes under her YouTube video, so please go there for the exact details.

A friend from my Tilth Alliance Soil and Water Stewardship program came over to do this project with me. We had so much fun!

I have a big supply of cotton quilting fabrics, so opted to use what I had instead of going out and buying something new. In my stash I had a bunch of garden veggie and water droplet prints that I'd been storing for years, looking for the perfect project, and they were perfect for it! I washed, dried, and ironed my fabric and then we used a rotary cutter with a pinking blade to cut a zigzag edge that wouldn't fray.

Photo of a package of candelilla wax (left) and bottle of jojoba oil (right).
Candelilla Wax & Jojoba Oil
Photo of a package of pine resin in a wide mouth half-pint mason jar in a pot of boiling water to soften.
Package of Pine Resin
The ingredients for the wraps includes candelilla wax, jojoba oil, and pine resin. We got our supplies from Amazon and PCC market, but have since discovered other bulk and less-packaging intensive options from Zenith Supply. Here are the links for the products we used:

The pine resin is hard but super sticky. To get the resin out of the container, we used the technique Jenny Joy's Soap suggested

We put the resin container in a half-pint wide mouth mason jar in a pan of boiling water (see photo above with supply list) and stirred it with a chop stick. It was soft enough to remove some with a hot metal measuring spoon that we'd heated in the boiling water for a moment.

Then we melted the resin, candelilla wax, and jojoba together in a double boiler we made by setting a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water:

Photo of stainless steel bowl set over a pot of boiling water with melted pine resin, candelilla wax, and jojoba oil.
Ingredients Melted in Bowl Set Over Pot of Boiling Water

Next we painted the mixture on our prepared fabric with a pastry brush. I'd bought an old metal sheet baking tray at a thrift store for this purpose and also covered one of my good ones with a couple layers of aluminum foil; both worked fine:

Photo showing author brushing melted ingredients on prepared fabric with a pastry brush. Fabric is illustrated with a variety of tomatoes.
Brushing Melted Ingredients with a Pastry Brush

Then this was popped into a low oven to allow the brushed mixture to melt through the fabric and spread out:

Photo of an aluminum foil lined baking tray with prepared vegan food wrap in the oven to fully melt ingredients into the fabric. Fabric is illustrated with a variety of summer squash.
Melting Ingredients into Fabric in the Oven

Then we added a step Joan didn't do in her process. We noticed we were getting uneven coverage of the waxy mixture even when melting everything together in the oven. Because of this, we had thick areas of wax in some spots and areas that were not waxed at all. I'd read some posts by others who'd done beeswax wraps using a clothes iron, so we decided to try that. It worked like a charm! We placed an old bath towel on the granite countertop, sandwiched the brushed fabric between two pieces of parchment paper, and pressed with a hot iron:

Photo of an old bath towel on a granite countertop, with prepared fabric sandwiched between two pieces of parchment paper, and being pressed with a hot clothes iron.
Using a Clothes Iron to Evenly Melt the Wax into the Fabric

When we peeled the parchment off, the fabric had perfect coverage!

Photo of author peeling parchment paper off pressed fabric.
Peeling Parchment Paper Off of the Fabric After Pressing with a Clothes Iron

Then we hung the waxed sheets outside on a clothes line to cool:

Photo of finished vegan food wraps hanging on a clothesline on a wooden deck.
Finished Wraps Cooling on a Clothesline Outside

The sheets are perfect! They have enough tack to stick together but not so sticky that they get your hands all gooey. They work around veggies and on bowls! I'm going to try to sew one and see how that works for making storage bags.

Photo showing use of the vegan food wraps. Left, a tomato set on teh food wrap. Middle, same tomato wrapped up in the food wrap. Right, metal bowl topped with a vegan food wrap.
Using the Vegan Food Wraps

We are really pleased with these wraps! 

Things we learned:
  • Pine resin is sticky! Protect your kitchen!
  • Plan on just losing your bowl, pastry brush, and baking sheet to the cause and reusing it only to make wraps in the future.
  • To clean your measuring spoons and chopsticks afterward, put them in a pot of boiling water and boil until all the goo comes off and floats to the surface. Carefully pull out your utensils and wipe with a rag, then put in the dishwasher for final cleaning. DON'T POUR THE BOILED WATER WITH THE FLOATING WAX DOWN YOUR SINK DRAIN! It'll never come out. We carefully took it outside and poured it on the ground. Wipe out the pot with an old rag and then run through the dishwasher.
  • Skip the oven step. Brush the melted ingredients on your fabric and then iron between parchment.
Note about pine resin. Joan did try using the powdered pine resin instead of the gooey resin, and it didn't work out. I may play with this another time to see if I can get it to work. It'd sure be nice to have a powder instead of that goo that is so sticky to work with!

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