Am I the only one that thinks that there is a crazy amount of baking paper? I mean, who would’ve thought that one would need so many different types of paper.
But, it turns out actually that while all of the types of paper you find in the cooking supplies aisle seem quite similar, each one is actually subtly different and serves a unique purpose.
You may not have realized this because some recipes or articles incorrectly use the different types of paper interchangeably. This usually doesn’t cause too many issues. However in some cases the wrong paper at the wrong time can cause problems ranging from minor annoyances and spills to actual harm.
Today we’ll delve into the differences between two commonly used papers: butcher paper vs freezer paper. I’ll explain the key properties of each, their similarities and the situations that each is best suited to.
What is Butcher Paper?
If you’ve ever gone to the butcher to pick up some fresh meat, you’re probably pretty familiar with the pink, white, or brown paper that they wrap the meat up with.
But what actually is butcher paper? It’s a thick paper made from kraft pulp. This makes it pretty much identical to the paper you find in crafts stores, or used as disposable table cloths.
The texture of the paper is quite coarse as it’s made of wood grain pulp. Since it’s not lined with anything and is just pure paper, it’s breathable and is conducive for folding. This makes it great for folding up various types of meat in it. It’s also very cheap and easy to store the entire roll. These properties makes it attractive for both business and personal uses.
Whilst butcher paper and kraft paper are pretty much identical, there is a key difference that makes ‘true’ butcher paper. The difference is that butcher paper is labeled as 100% FDA approved for safe contact with food.
Butcher Paper Uses
In delis and restaurants, butcher paper can be used in the traditional way, i.e. the storage of meat. However it can also be used for lining food trays or wrapping sandwiches, which you may have seen before.
You can also use butcher paper while barbecuing. The pink butcher paper is quite commonly used to wrap the meat while it smokes or cools. Lastly, it also can be used in home decoration and craft making. While you shouldn’t use kraft paper for food, you can use butcher paper for crafts if you don’t happen to have any on hand.
Some other specific uses are:
- Children’s artwork
- Wrapping fragile items like china or glass
- Posters and banners
- Paper bags
You can use butcher paper it in pretty much any other way that you can think of!
What is Freezer Paper?
Kraft paper may be more closely related to butcher paper than freezer paper, but all of them have very similar beginnings. Freezer paper is also quite thick compared to other materials like parchment paper.
Freezer paper is heavy-duty paper that is coated with polyethylene on one side. The plastic coating allows it to seal in moisture. Since it’s only coated on one side, it allows for the other side to be marked or written on to label it. The plastic side faces the food to keep it fresh.
Freezer paper shouldn’t be confused with wax paper, though it often is. The difference between wax paper and freezer paper is that wax paper is thinner and is coated on both sides. Of course, as you can tell by the name, it’s coated in wax, rather than plastic.
Freezer Paper Uses
Freezer paper is one of the best types of paper for storing foods – particularly in the freezer. Crazy, right? It can also be used to store foods that aren’t going in the freezer as well.
The reason it’s so good for storing foods in the freezer – particularly meat and seafood – is that unlike aluminum foil it won’t rip, tear, or be punctured easily.
You can wrap freezer paper tightly around the meat leaving much less space than when you freeze items in plastic containers.
This is important because the extra space for air can promote frost or freezer burn on the meat. Whilst this is not dangerous, it can lessen the quality of the food. Lastly, the fact it can be labeled makes it easy to identify what’s inside and how long it’s been in the freezer.
There are a few non-freezer-related uses for freezer paper too. These include wrapping sandwiches, use in sewing as an embroidery template, or other uses in arts and crafts.
It’s great as a tool to wrap sandwiches. This is because it helps to keep the bread moist and prevents it from drying out.
Butcher Paper vs Freezer Paper Differences
Each type of paper has properties that make them more suitable for certain tasks than the other. Here are some of the key differences between butcher paper vs freezer paper.
While freezer paper is one of the sturdiest cooking papers, it’s not as thick as butcher paper.
Butcher paper is very thick and coarse. This is why it’s also good in arts and crafts and for more heavy-duty uses like as a table cloth. However, both are thick enough to be good for folding and wrapping around various things.
Freezer paper has a polyethylene coating on one side of the paper while butcher paper is pure paper.
While butcher paper is built to withstand more liquid than kraft paper it still can’t withstand as much moisture as plastic-coated freezer paper. This plastic lining helps to trap the moisture and juices inside. The coating makes it closer to wax paper and parchment paper in that regard.
Butcher paper is very cheap and can be bought in bulk as well. Freezer paper is more expensive and sold in smaller sizes, similar to when you buy parchment paper or wax paper.
In The Freezer
While you can use butcher paper to store things in the freezer, it’s not as good for the job as freezer paper. Freezer paper does a better job trapping the moisture, as previously stated. Also, butcher paper is more breathable. This isn’t desirable in the freezer when you want to keep as much air out as possible.
Butcher Paper vs Freezer Paper While Cooking Or Defrosting
Here, the plastic coating is actually a drawback for freezer paper. Because of this, it can’t be used in a microwave oven to defrost the meat, for example. It also can’t be used in an oven because the high temperature melts the plastic. This doesn’t only ruin the food but can also be dangerous to your health.
Butcher paper, on the other hand, is safe to use in the oven or when barbequing.
Can You Use Freezer Paper as Butcher Paper?
Yes! You can definitely use freezer paper as a substitute for butcher paper. In fact, sometimes butchers or fishmongers do use freezer paper as butcher paper.
Since it has a plastic coating it can help to prevent the paper from becoming overly soaked by the juices or residual water. While this may not be much of an issue for cold cuts or certain primary cuts of meat, it can be a big issue when buying fish for example. Though butcher paper can handle quite a bit of moisture, if it’s too much it’s best to use freezer paper to prevent the liquids from soaking through.
Although in most instances you can substitute freezer paper for butcher paper, there are some cases where you should avoid it.
These are instances of cooking or defrosting as I have previously mentioned. If you use the freezer paper as butcher paper when you are smoking meat, or putting it in the oven then you risk ruining the food as the plastics will cook into the meat and not only ruin it but poison it. You can also create a fire hazard and potentially toxic fumes from the burning of plastic.
So while you definitely can use freezer paper as butcher paper, be careful how you use it as it can’t be completely substituted.
Does Butcher Paper Prevent Freezer Burn?
As I have said before, freezer paper is the best to prevent freezer burn. That’s because it’s specifically designed for the task with its special lining that better protects the meat and keeps out unwanted air, and keeps moisture in.
However, butcher paper also does a good job at preventing freezer burn. After all, freezer burn is when food is damaged by oxidation and dehydration. That usually happens when the food (primarily meat) hasn’t been wrapped and sealed properly.
So, if you tightly wrap and seal meat in butcher paper, it can help to prevent damage to the meat in the freezer. For the best results, place the meat that’s wrapped in butcher paper in a freezer bag as well to provide an extra layer of protection. This is important if you plan on storing it in the freezer for a long time.
Can You Use Butcher Paper in the Oven?
Yes! You can definitely use butcher paper in the oven. Since it’s not lined with anything like wax or plastic, it will act similar to parchment paper, which is lined with silicon, and will be safe to use in the over without the risk of plastic leaching into the food, or damaging the oven.
It can actually be desirable in some instances to use butcher paper in the oven. Butcher paper can be more convenient and cost effective as you don’t have to spend as much compared to more expensive types of paper. Also, it’s good to use when covering food to keep warm instead of aluminum foil as it provides a better environment.
But there are some risks when using butcher paper in the oven. Since there is no silicon lining on the paper, it can burn if it’s too hot or makes contact with heating elements that would allow it to catch fire.
So, it can be used in the oven but you should be careful to keep it away from the heating elements and to not use the oven at very high temperatures to prevent a fire risk. The flashpoint for paper is around 480 degrees Fahrenheit so it’s best to keep the temperature well below that figure.
Can You Use Freezer Paper in the Oven?
I have touched on this a couple of times already but it’s important to emphasize that you can’t use freezer paper in the oven. This is for multiple reasons.
If you use freezer paper in the oven you run the risk of it catching on fire. Also, since it’s lined with a plastic coating on one side that’s not suitable for high temperatures, that coating can be cooked into the food which can not only ruin its flavor but ingesting plastic material can be unsafe.
So, it’s highly advised that you avoid using freezer paper in the ocean and instead use something that’s more suitable like parchment paper, or the aforementioned butcher paper if you have that on hand.