Make Your Own Eco Food Wrap

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Happy spring!

I don’t know about you, but I am increasingly wary of plastic wrap and increased illness from the chemicals in much of our allegedly “food safe” equipment. Foil is supposed to be a good alternative, however it is getting very expensive, and I am not a big fan of aluminum, either. Waxed paper works well for short-term storage, until it gets damp. While researching the topic, I discovered Eco food wrap made with cotton and bee’s wax for sale, online. It is fabulous, but pricey, at $18.00+ a sheet.Then I discovered simple instructions for making your own!  I will credit the process with a link to the original how-to instructions at the very bottom of this blog post.

A few hardy souls were making these waxed sheets several years ago, by dipping cloth in bee’s wax or brushing it on.  Both sounded like overly messy adventures.  This new method is easy, and can be accomplished quickly with an electric iron or in the oven.  This must be similar to old-fashioned oil cloth, though they probably used paraffin, rather than bee’s wax, I’m guessing.

I made the above sheet this morning in less than 15 minutes.  It is obviously not suitable for every food storage use, but great for brown bag lunch sandwiches, cheese, butter, and probably other applications I have not yet discovered.  I am very happy with the results, and plan to make several more.

12″ x 12″ plain, washed cotton fabric
Once the fabric shape and size is determined and cut out, trim the edges with pinking shears to prevent future unravelling of the unfinished edges of fabric.

You’ll need an old bread board or another surface that can take the heat from the iron.  I used an oversized,  3/4″ thick HDPE cutting board.  Secure the parchment to the board with tape because it will slide around quite a bit if you don’t. Position the fabric on the parchment right side down. Plug in an iron and allow to heat on high/cotton setting, no steam.

Sprinkle bee’s wax pastilles over fabric surface. I may have used a bit too much, as I had to blot some excess bee’s wax that oozed out of the edges.  Plan to use almost this much, as you want it to melt evenly into fabric with no bare spots. If you end up with areas not saturated enough, simply put a few more pastilles on the area, cover with parchment and re-iron.

Now that the iron is hot, place it on the parchment paper over the bee’s wax.  Before you use a normal ironing motion, anchor the parchment by flat pressing the iron in the center and corners.   Then the parchment won’t slide off the bee’s wax pellets.

As you press the parchment with the iron you will notice areas of the parchment        darkening. Keep going, until the edges are as uniformly dark as the center is.

When you can see the pattern on the fabric clearly through the top layer of parchment it is nearly done.

  If bee’s wax oozes from the edges, use the edge of the iron to press it out evenly beyond the edges of the fabric.

Keep pressing until all the ooze is on the outside edges of the fabric.  If there still seems to be too much wax laying on the fabric, place an old towel over the fabric and cover with the top parchment paper. Re-press with the iron and the towel will absorb the excess wax. Better yet, make several eco-sheets at once, and use the next planned eco wrap sheet, instead of an old towel, to absorb some of that bee’s wax. Then none will be wasted.

  

As you can see by the dark areas in the towel above, a lot of excess wax was absorbed by the old dish towel.

Next, while still warm, pull the parchment and dishcloth off of the waxed fabric.  Hang on a hanger or clothesline till dry.  Enjoy!

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Dubliner Cheese, wrapped like a gift package.

The idea for this project came from diynatural.com/reusablefoodwraps

  

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Perchance To Dream

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Herbal Sleep Pillow

Do you know anyone who has trouble getting to sleep?  A friend has recently had heart surgery and is on a prescription medication regimen.  Her physician advised her against using herbs orally, even mildly relaxing, herbal teas that might possibly interact with the medicine.  Her sleep is often fitful, at best.  I recently made  sleep pillow for her, and the sleepy scent of it has helped her relax enough to drift off to a deeper sleep.

These little sleep pillows are naturally and beautifully scented with organically grown, relaxing herbs.  The finished size is 6 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ x 1/2″ (or any size you like), and designed to be placed on or next to your regular bed pillow.  Sew an inner liner case of gauzy cotton,  1/2″-3/4″ smaller all around than the outer case.   Fill it with about 1/2 cup of herbs so it easily slips inside the outer cover.  Attach a velcro closure to the liner so the herbs can be replaced and both parts of the pillow can be washed.  If you have a sewing machine, you can make the liner and the pillow case in about 30 minutes.

Relaxing, dried herbal blend

I assembled the above collection of herbs from those I dried at harvest last fall.  They include Rosa rugosa petals, Chamomile, Lavender, Hops and Lemon Balm.  The herbs hold their vibrancy and scent very well if stored in a jar, out of direct light.  Sleep pillows make great gifts for sleepless friends and relatives!

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Rosa rugosa

If you don’t grow herbs yourself, you can purchase them in small amounts from a local, reputable herb store or even order them online.   The dried herbs should be vibrant, recognizable and appear to still contain the life force of the living plant.  Two of my favorite dried herb suppliers are Mountain Rose Herbs or Dandelion Botanical Company, both in the Pacific Northwest.

Fresh, dried hops

Dried hops are only potent for as long as they retain a green hue.  Once they turn tan or brown, they are no longer useful for this purpose.

Are you growing herbs this year?

Provence Lavender