In our efforts to reduce our plastic use we've started using environmentally friendly beeswax wraps instead of plastic clingfilm. Last month I made a small batch of cotton cloth beeswax wraps to trial and we've enjoyed using them since to cover plates & bowls of leftovers in the fridge, half-used vegetables and to wrap up baking, bread, cheese and more. In case you haven't heard of these popular beeswax wraps before they're very easy to use; you simply cover your container or food with the wrap using the warmth of your hands to mould it around the edge of your container or food, adhering the wrap to the container, food or itself. Beeswax wraps are easily washed in cool, soapy water and can be re-used for months & months. In fact I'd say you could keep them forever if you maintain them correctly!
You can buy these wraps from a number of NZ companies and at markets but I wanted to have a go at making them myself. There are plenty of recipes on Google for these wraps, all varying slightly. A lot include tree resin however it's not as easy to source locally as beeswax is and I've read mixed information about the safety of the fumes that come with heating the resin up. The resin is used to add more 'clingy-ness' and durability to the wrap but I decided I would make mine without the tree resin and see what I thought. After using our first batch of wraps for a month, neither Matt or myself think they lack 'cling' factor and reckon they adhere to everything just fine. On Sunday we spent an hour in the kitchen together making up another batch of beeswax wraps of varying sizes and shapes to add to our collection. Here's how we did it if you want to have a go yourself...
YOU WILL NEED:
HOW TO MAKE:
1. Preheat your oven to 100 degress Celcius on bake.
2. Cut your cotton fabric to the sizes you want, using pinking shears so the edges don't fray. A variety of sizes and shapes is good for different uses.
3. Place your beeswax and jojoba oil in a saucepan, over a low heat, to melt. If you want to add tree resin to your recipe you would just add in 20 grams of it in with your beeswax and oil here. Use a spatula to stir the mixture.
4. Lay one of your cotton wraps on your tin-foil or baking paper lined oven tray. Once your beeswax mixture is fully melted use an old paintbrush to apply an even, liberal coating of the beeswax to your fabric. You will need to work fast as the beeswax will cool and solidify fast. Make sure there aren't any dry areas of fabric. You want to apply enough beeswax to soak through the whole fabric piece once you've heated it in the oven (in the next step), but not so much that you will have excess beeswax pooled on top of the fabric.
5. Place your wrap in the oven for about 3 minutes to melt in & evenly distribute the beeswax. In the photo below you can see the beeswax is still sitting on top of the fabric. You know the wrap is ready once you see the beeswax has soaked through and into the fabric. The fabric will look wet. While your wrap is in the oven replace your pot of beeswax mixture on the cooktop on a low heat to prevent it from cooling and solidifying.
6. Remove from the oven and either using tongs or carefully using your fingers lift the wrap from the oven tray. Simply by holding the wrap in the air, turning it and fanning it gently, the beeswax will cool quickly. I took my wraps outside into the cool air to fully 'dry' them. If you find there's patches of fabric that haven't soaked up the beeswax you can apply a little more beeswax or just place back in the oven and allow the heat to continue evening out the beeswax.
7. Once cooled and dry, your beeswax wraps are ready to use. They are best stored rolled or flat, not folded. I store ours rolled up in a mason jar on the kitchen countertop ready for use. Repeat steps 4-6 until you've completed waxing all your cotton wraps or until your beeswax mixture runs out.
These beeswax wraps should last 6-12 months. If you find they are losing their cling factor or waxiness, you can place them back in the oven to re-distribute the beeswax. They will eventually need to be re-coated.
Remember to only wash them with cool, mildly soapy water, as hot water will move the beeswax. Lay them flat or peg them up to dry thoroughly after cleaning. And don't use beeswax wraps to wrap raw meats or wet foods as they can't be washed in hot water.
Lastly, have fun with cleaning up your utensils and hands after making these! Beeswax is hard to clean up but I found if I wiped out my pots and utensils with a paper towel first removing most of the beeswax residue, the clean up was easier. Lots of hot water and detergent cleaned everything up well, but I won't be using my paintbrush for anything else besides making more wraps - so I definitely recommend using an old one!