We Tested 3 Sustainable Kitchen Tools And Here’s What We Found
From beeswax paper to reusable baking mats, here’s our honest rundown on sustainability in the kitchen.
Food Editor at Kitchen Stories
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Sustainability has become a focus in recent years, with more of us being aware of our environmental impact and prioritizing sustainable options.
Back home, there are little steps to take in the kitchen that can make a difference: from reusable grocery and produce bags to coffee cups for on the go. By using sustainable products and tools, you are creating less waste and saving money in the long run–so what’s not to like? Here at Kitchen Stories, we put some of these sustainable tools to the test to see whether they are worth purchasing.
3 Sustainable Kitchen Tools
Silicone baking mat
Parchment paper is probably something most households use on a daily basis, whether you’re roasting vegetables or baking some cookies. While you could technically reuse parchment paper one or two times, it quickly becomes greasy or burnt and must be thrown away. So what if there was a way you could skip on the parchment paper altogether, without leaving your baking sheet a greasy mess? Enter the silicone baking mat.
How does it work? Available in different sizes and colors, a silicone baking mat is usually made of durable non-stick material, requiring no oil or baking spray. We tried out two products: first a smaller baking mat, which is ideal for baking smaller cookies such as macarons, and secondly a larger baking mat. Both claim to be dishwasher-safe and heat-resistant up to 230°C/445°F.
Pros and Cons Essentially, a silicone baking mat works exactly like its disposable predecessor, and can thus be used for baking, roasting, etc. I’d recommend buying a dishwasher-safe one, as it will make the clean up a lot easier.
Where parchment paper has its edge is in its versatility, as it can be cut for different sizes and purposes, such as lining a cake tin for baking (although silicone muffin cases are already on the market, so perhaps it’s just a matter of time).
Overall, silicone baking mats work just as well as parchment paper in terms of cooking the food, but naturally require cleaning and can’t be cut into different shapes.
Reusable freezer bags
Like us, you probably love to cook and will inevitably end up with lots of leftovers. Reusable silicone freezer bags are a sturdier alternative to reduce waste from single-used plastic bags.
How do they work? These bags are thicker and more durable than classic sandwich bags. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and are made using food-grade silicone and are thus odorless. Thanks to their heat-resistance, you can also use the handy little bags to steam vegetables, sous vide style or even make your own popcorn in the microwave.
Pros and Cons Reusable silicone bags are a great option for freezing, as their flexible material means they take up less space than a plastic container. They are also less likely to leak than plastic freezer bags, which can sometimes burst open at the seams.
However, they are not completely leak proof when transporting. While I would rather opt for something like an airtight container to transport messy food, these bags are best for transporting dry goods, such as nuts or sandwiches, or as freezer bags to store leftovers or frozen fruit for smoothies.
A major downside is the steep price point of the name brand. Additionally, some foods may leave a faint smell behind. Here I would again recommend a dishwasher safe version, so you can easily wash them after use. If you’re willing to invest in these, it could also be a good idea to buy a set of bags and use them each for different uses to avoid lingering smells.
Overall, reusable silicone bags are more durable than sandwich bags and are great for transporting dry goods or freezing leftovers, however, airtight containers do the job just as well if you have enough space.
Plastic wrap is another common single-use household item, resulting in a lot of waste. An eco-friendly solution to this is beeswax paper. Beeswax food wraps are made using a fabric such as cotton that has been coated with a layer of food-safe beeswax, plant resin and oils. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even make your own wrap using any spare cotton napkins you have lying around, with some pine resin and jojoba or coconut oil.
How do they work? The warmth of your hands softens the coated layer of the wrap, making it slightly sticky and malleable, enabling it to mold around a desired container or food. This stickiness does not last forever, with Beeswax paper claiming to last up to a year with proper care and usage. This still means you save on a huge amount of plastic wrap you’d be using during that time. They are also compostable, living up to the claim of zero-waste.
Pros and Cons Beeswax paper is recommended for many types of uses, from wrapping up sandwiches on the go to storing leftovers. A surprisingly popular use of beeswax wraps is to extend the shelf life of your cheeses, by allowing the cheese to breathe while keeping it wrapped tight. This also works on bread loaves. Storing meat or sticky, moist fruits, on the other hand, is probably not a great idea.
Unfortunately, beeswax wraps are not dishwasher safe, so you’ll have to wash them by hand using a little dish soap and water. Some beeswax wraps can also leave behind a mild honey taste, which may not be everyone's cup of tea. They should also be kept out of direct sunlight or warm environments, as the wax can melt if exposed to too high temperatures. In addition, there is also a small chance that your wrap can get moldy as the wax coating gradually wears off. Important to note is that due to the use of beeswax, the paper is not vegan either, which might be a dealbreaker for some.
Overall, I’d say beeswax paper is more suitable for short-term food storage, such as for hard cheeses, but is not as airtight as plastic wraps.
While there are always going to be some downsides to sustainable kitchen tools, ultimately they are an easy way to reduce waste in your kitchen and worth giving a go. Let us know if you’ve tried any of these or if you have any holy grail sustainable tools that made their way into your daily routine!
Published on October 15, 2022