Wax paper is wonderful stuff. A lot of people think of it as just for sandwich wrapping, but there’s really so much more you can do with it. Even though plastic wrap is more popular these days, there are many things wax paper just does better.
Keeping things clean
Some of my favorite uses of wax paper are all about lining surfaces so I can cut down on future cleaning chores:
- Drawers and cabinets. Kitchen drawers and cabinets both benefit from being lined with wax paper, especially if there’s any chance something damp or liquid might leak into them. Wax paper catches liquid and dry stuff and keeps it from penetrating the wood inside cabinetry. That means your drawers stay cleaner all the time. Every few months or even years – or whenever there’s a spill - instead of having to scrub these surfaces, you can just remove the wax paper.
- Bathroom cabinets. Bathroom cabinets typically contain wet products like shampoos that can leak and stain the wood. Lining them prevents this, so you can put anything you want into your cabinets without worrying it might turn over and spill.
- Those surfaces that are hard to clean. Putting a sheet of wax paper along the top of a refrigerator or kitchen cabinets keeps those surfaces from getting filthy. Every year or so, just replace the paper, and whatever was on it is all the dirt you would have needed to climb up there to clean.
- Line wooden cutting boards. You can also line porous cutting surfaces before slicing into raw meat to make extra sure any bacteria in the meat juice gets whisked away when you’re done.
Wax paper does one thing much better than plastic wrap: it doesn’t make food “sweat.” And that means certain foods stay fresher longer with wax paper than with plastic wrap.
- Keep cheese fresher longer. I love buying good quality cheese and trying new kinds all the time, but since I’m the only one in my household who eats it, it would often spoil before I could finish it. I finally learned it was the plastic wrap cheeses come in that made this happen. When you first cut into a new wedge of cheese, immediately remove the plastic wrap. Wrap the cheese in wax paper, which keeps it moist without ever letting it get sweaty. Now wrap that in tin foil and stick it in the fridge. My cheeses stay fresh long enough for me to enjoy them at my leisure now.
- Sandwiches and cakes, too. Any food item that is bread or cake-like can “sweat” in plastic wrap, especially if it’s not going to be stored in refrigeration. Wax paper keeps brown bag lunches much more appetizing.
When you’re cooking, wax paper can come in handy for a number of things.
- Makeshift kitchen funnel. The easiest way in the world to make a quick, cheap, easy funnel is to cut squares of wax paper and roll them up. Stick one end in the neck of whatever you want to funnel the substance into, and let the top section unroll a little, so the top expands to make the funnel shape. It’s great for pouring dry, wet, even sticky stuff through.
- Pipe icing onto a cake. Using the funnel method I just described, with a very small hole at the end, you can pipe icing onto a cake with precision. This makes it easy to do intricate designs or write onto the cake.
- Freeze icing for perfect cake decorations. Instead of putting decorative icing directly onto your cake – which sucks if you don’t get it just right – cut a piece of wax paper that’s the same size as the cake. Pipe your decorations onto it. If you mess up, it’s easy to remove the offending bits of icing and re-do that section. Once it’s perfect, put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Now you should be able to loosen the icing from the wax paper with a spatula and place it on the cake. Once you’ve got it exactly centered, gently press it into the non-decorative icing just a little.
Some of you may be concerned about just throwing away wax paper, since it can’t be recycled. Fair point, but wax paper can be re-used. It cleans up easily in most cases and can be safely reused the same way you’d reuse a plastic tool. You can clean your drawer liners and re-use them many, many times unless there’s been a major spill.