Introduction: Cheese Wax Food Wraps
Re-useable food wraps are all the rage right now. I love using these, not only because they are great for the environment, but also because they look so pretty. I don't, however, love the price! These can be $10 for a small wrap that barely covers a bowl. I've made some beeswax wraps using recipes I've found online, which work great and look nice, however the materials can be pretty pricy also.
I've had a cheese addiction as long as I can remember, and have been looking for a use for all the wax rinds I peel off.
These wraps are food safe, easily washed, easily stored, and cost almost nothing to make.
Wax cheese rinds - I used 10 Baby Bell rinds for this project, however a different size or quantity will use a different amount.
Fabric - Any soft, thin, natural, and absorbent fabric works for this. In this project you will see some cotton salvaged from very cheap elephant pants, but I've also used cotton sheets, pieces of button down shirts, and fat quarters with great results. Polyester doesn't absorb as well, and stiff fabric doesn't bend around dishes or food as well.
Newspaper or drop cloth - to protect your floor.
Shallow pan - I found a great broiling pan at a thrift store. I use it only for making wraps and melting wax.
Step 1: Set Up Your Space! Protect Your Floors.
Depending on how neat you are, what your workspace looks like and how much you enjoy scrubbing wax off a floor, you will probably want at least one layer of newspaper.
Step 2: Cut Fabric Pieces.
Use clean cloth. It needs to be absorbent, natural (not meltable), and soft. I love recycling clothes for these projects. You can use pinking shears if you want - I did as this fabric had a very loose weave, however it is not necessary. This is when you pick the size wrap you want. Handy sizes are 8″ x 8″ or 12″ x 12″or 14″ x 14″; I use one fat quarter size (about 18" x 21") to wrap my bread loaves, a 12" x 12" size to cover a big brick of cheese, and 8" x 8" squares to send sandwiches to school with my daughter.
Step 3: Melt Wax!
Red wax looks a little ghastly when it is melted, doesn't it? I use a shallow broiling pan on the lowest heat setting my stove offers. You want the wax liquid, but not smoking. Cheese wax melts at a super low temperature. There might be some small bits of fuzz or whatever - these fall to the bottom of the wax and generally stay off the wrap.
Step 4: Dip and Drag.
Hold the fabric by the corners and dip it in the liquid wax. Let the wax absorb all the way through, and make sure to cover as much fabric as possible. Slowly dragging along the lip of the pan can help get an even coat over the fabric.
Step 5: Hang to Cool. Go in for a Second Coat to Get All Four Corners.
Once the fabric is well coated with wax, remove it from the heat and let it dry. It takes about 30-45 seconds to get the wax cool enough to touch, another 15 to 30 seconds to cool enough so that it doesn't stick to everything. Repeat the dipping until all four corners are covered and the fabric has a nice even layer of wax.
Step 6: Use and Care
These wraps work best if stored in a cool, dry place. Let the wrap warm up in your hands for a couple seconds before use. You can store all sorts of things with these - veggies, cheese, breads, leftovers. These are great in the freezer, too. I don't recommend use with raw meats or letting food get moldy, because bacteria are tricky and these are low heat. Some sauces and veggies might stain your cloth.
Washing is easy - just toss it in cool soapy water and rinse. Air dry, then re-use.
Every year or so I refresh my wraps by putting them back in a hot wax bath.
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