So if you’re like me, you have at one point in your baking life, went to try a recipe and used one of the three kitchen staples incorrectly. This ultimately resulted in utter catastrophe and broken dreams…
Horrifying I know, but with the bad comes the good. This failed experiment and hard learned lesson sparked the idea of learning exactly why you use on product over the other and for which are they best suited for. Though its good information to know, if anything else, it’ll saved my wallet from all the wasted ingredients that continue to grace the trashcan with each failed attempt.
Now, if I were to ask you what the difference between the three is, you probably would respond with something along the lines of “foil is silver and parchment paper is paper and wax paper is made of wax”, as was my husband’s response. But outside the obvious, do you really understand what are the variety of uses for each are?
Ladies and Gents, presenting a breakdown of the differences and tips on how you should use them:
Parchment vs. Wax Paper
To lead the pack, let’s explore parchment paper first.
Parchment paper is a coated paper that is covered with a silicone base (Quilon if we’re being technical). This creates a heat-resistant layer that eliminates the moisture retention issue that a direct contact surface such as that of non-stick pans have. Additionally, it is grease-resistant so it in a sense makes food safer to eat as it minimizes the chance of surface contamination. This paper is specifically treated for oven-use as it can withstand the high temperatures that are required for baking. This makes the paper non-stick and allows for easy release of food products.
On the other hand…..
Wax paper is covered in a thin coating of either soybean or paraffin wax on both sides. This allows for it to be considered non-stick as well as moisture-resistant. It helps retain the juices of the foods within while resisting any moisture transition that would ultimately make foods soggy and/or dry. Despite this positive attribute, it is not heat-resistant. Technically it can be labelled as a fire hazard as it will melt in the oven and can even catch on fire.
(Not that I’m bias or anything……I mean some people love the taste of crayons)
On the other hand, wax paper can also be used to wrap food for cold storage or even line a pan for such ventures as fudge-making. Putting a piece of wax paper in between items you’re freezing will also prevent them from sticking together.
Wax paper does tend to be cheaper than parchment paper and is a good alternative for task such as wrapping food or covering counter tops, but with the new types available (9in rounds with tabs, cookie sheets sizes, etc…), the parchment proves to be more versatile over wax. Parchment paper is reusable and technically is more environmentally friendly.
Foil vs. Parchment Paper and Wax Paper
Now foil or as the French pronounce it…foíl is basically just extremely thin sheets of aluminum that can come in a variety of thicknesses.
Foil is generally used to roast poultry, grill food, and cook fish in the oven. Parchment paper has a temperature max of 420 degrees Fahrenheit; if you are baking/cooking an item that requires a higher temperature, foil is a wiser choice. Foil is meant for thermal insulation, to keep food warm for longer periods of time. Additionally, foil can be used in cold scenarios to seal them from outside air.
Lastly, foil does not offer a nonstick option. Although foil offers great versatility, it may not be safe to use on high temperatures because some aluminum might leach into your food, according to International Journal Of Electrochemical Science. High concentrations of aluminum in the body may be linked to several health risks, such Alzheimer’s disease, renal impairments, and bone diseases.
The amount of percolation was discovered to be high in acidic solutions and spices. Therefore, if you like to stay on the safe side, avoid cooking with aluminum foil if you’ll be using spices and acidic solutions, like tomato juice and vinegar and if heat is involved, use parchment paper or you may end up with a little piece of foil stuck to the bottom of your cookies.
Just an FYI…..
OH plus you can technically reuse it so there is a positive side to it as well 🙂
So now that the facts have been presented, you probably are asking yourself “OK, so foil, parchment paper and wax paper have a lot of similar uses, but which one is better?” A good rule of thumb to remember is if you don’t want it to stick, use wax or parchment paper and if you want to insulate, use foil, but if you’re going to use a heat source, stick to parchment paper.
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