The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Green baking

Felila's picture

Green baking

I don't want to spend money on parchment paper, plastic wrap, plastic bags, and tin foil, only to throw them away after one use. It's a matter of frugality + wanting to be environmentally responsible.

I used to save the plastic bags from the supermarket and wash and re-use them as long as possible before they fell apart. However, the supermarkets are using thinner, sleazier bags, AND I've recently learned that my old freezing method (put the loaf in a bag and freeze it) was inadequate. I'm wrapping the loaves in tin foil and then putting them in heavier plastic bags. When they're needed, I let them thaw, heat them in a 375 degree oven ... and then throw away the tin foil. Which hurts.The bread is better (moister) but I've wasted the aluminum and the energy it took to make it.

I've also been experimenting with retarding bread dough, which seems to require lavish use of plastic wrap to cover bowls. The wrap then has to be thrown away.

I was recently given some Peter Reinhart bread books. Many of the recipes call for parchment paper ... which I resist using. Another use-once, throw-away item.

Are there any bakers out there who can advise me on environmentally-sound baking? I would like to bake using only reusable equipment.



davidg618's picture

I use silcon pads frequently for cookies, biscuits, scones, biscotti, ciabatta, and challah. Silpat is the most well known brand, but other manufacturers have started to produce them. I use them lining a half-sheet pan. I place the sheet pan directly on my baking stone, and still reap the benefit of its thermal mass.

I don't think silicon pads will slide on a peel, and all the ones I've seen are about 12" by 17", a bit large for handling a single loaf on a peel. You could, of course cut them.

They are a bit pricey (~$20 each), but they are nearly indestructable if you don't abuse them. I have a pair of Silpat pads I've used for six or more years, and a Caphalon one gifted to me about three years past. Except for a few minor stains they look and work like new. I think they are limited to 450°F.

You might try covering a peel with nylon netting material (old stockings, or panty hose?). Silcon pads would probably slide on nylon netting. Some TFL'ers advocate covering flipping boards with nylon netting. I've never tried it. I only use a peel when I can dust it with brown rice flour, or cornmeal, turn the loaf onto the dusted peel, and slide it onto the baking stone.

I'm not against using parchment paper entirely, but I only do it rarely when there is no better alternative.

David G

davidg618's picture

I just visited the Silpat site They state, on the home page, their pads are safe to 250°C (482°F).

David G

yy's picture

A shower cap is a good alternative to plastic wrap for covering up bowls. They're reusable and convenient. Plus, if you stay at a hotel, you can probably get some for free. Yes, it also takes materials to produce those shower caps, but think of it this way: someone who uses it just as a shower cap will probably toss it after one use.

As a replacement for the aluminum foil you use to reheat your bread in the oven, perhaps a stainless steel bowl covering the loaf would also keep your bread moist.

I applaud your effort to conserve materials. If you work out any tips or tricks, I'd love to hear about them on this forum.

Brot Backer's picture
Brot Backer

Aluminum foil is one of the few directly recyclable products, meaning it needs no processing before being added back to the melting pot.

scottsourdough's picture

For all rising dough, soakers, levains, etc. I use damp cloth towels. Keeps everything from drying out, and you don't have to waste plastic wrap.

Janknitz's picture

I cut as small a piece as possible so that the dough covers most of the parchment and with "good" parchment paper I can reuse the same piece about 6 times.  I use a brand called "If You care" available at Whole Foods and some other retailers.  It is made of recycled paper in the first place, unbleached, and coated only with silicone which is not as hazardous to the environment as some other parchment coatings.  It's rated to 450 degrees F.  I find it pretty economical to use.  Stay away from that bleached white paper coated with "Quilon" they sell in most grocery stores!

You can use grains instead (i.e. flour or cornmeal) to slide your dough from peel to oven, but these grains burn and bother my asthma.  This parchment paper is a good compromise for me and I feel like it's not too hard on the environment with multiple reuses. 

I buy plastic shower caps 10 for $1 at the dollar store and use those to cover bowls of dough (actually we cover a lot of things in the kitchen with them).  I wash and reuse them many times.  I also have some cambro containers for dough fermentation, and I often overturn a big bowl over a boule rising on a peel.   

Foil used to wrap bread for freezing is not really dirty and can be reused many times.  The outer plastic bag is reusable as well. 

I have a refillable pump oil spayer used to keep dough from sticking.  There's no propellant and the container lasts for ever. 

It may be a toss up between the carbon footprint of mass produced white junk you buy in stores and homemade bread, but the taste and lack of chemicals in home made bread pushes making it at home into the winner's circle in my book. 

hanseata's picture

I also reuse parchment paper until it falls apart, depending on what I bake, 3 - 4 times. Though Silpat is great for pastry, I don't think it's recommended for really high temperatures.

I buy the clingiest plastic wrap and reuse it until it tears, when it doesn't cling anymore, with rubber bands (shower caps are a great idea, I will get some, too).

Same for aluminum foil, since bread usually is not greasy, I use it until it tears.

When I bake my breads for sale, I start with those baked at the lowest temperature, and end with the pitas at 550 degrees. Afterwards we often have pizza, since the baking stone is already really hot. That keeps the electric bill pretty low.