Paper isn’t only for writing and fun arts and crafts. There are several types of paper used in the culinary world and we’re sure you’ve heard of and used quite a few of them.
Out of the lot, parchment paper is the most common, with almost every baking recipe calling for its use, followed by wax paper coming in at a close second.
The third kind is freezer paper which, although has very different uses, is often confused with parchment paper.
So, what is the difference between parchment paper and freezer paper? Parchment paper is a cellulose-based paper mainly used in baking as a substitute for greasing, whereas freezer paper is a heavy-weight paper used mostly for freezing meats, fish, and other foods.
Read on for a detailed comparison between parchment paper and freezer paper, what they are made of, when to use them, and whether they can be substituted for each other:
What Is Parchment Paper?
Parchment paper, also called baking paper, is a cellulose-based non-stick, grease-proof, and heat-resistant paper that is mainly used in baking as a substitute for greasing.
It comes in rolls like you normally see for aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and performs the same job as greasing a pan to prevent food from sticking to it.
Its grease-proof quality does not let any oil or fat pass through it, which is perfect for baking things like cookies where after baking, you do not have to worry about the cookie sitting in a puddle of butter.
It is also non-stick, ensuring that your baked goods do not stick to the surface of your baking pans and trays. It allows you to lift them off easily without worrying about breaking them or ruining their shape.
In addition to that, it is also heat resistant, which means that no matter how high the temperature of your oven is, it will not burn.
Parchment paper comes in bleached and unbleached versions, where the former is white and the latter is brown in color.
Unbleached parchment paper is chlorine-free whereas its bleached counterpart is treated with chlorine to give it a gleaming white color. Both serve their purpose well and which one you choose depends entirely on your personal preference.
What Is Freezer Paper?
Freezer paper is thick paper with a plastic or wax coating on one side.
It differs from parchment paper, which has no wax coating, and wax paper which has a wax coating on both sides.
The coating on freezer paper helps seal in moisture, making it a great option for wrapping foods and storing them for later use.
When wrapping food in freezer paper, make sure the coating goes against the food and the plain side remains exposed.
Parchment Paper Uses
Parchment paper can be used for a variety of things around the kitchen.
It is most commonly used to line baking sheets and cake pans since it eliminates the need for greasing them and allows the baked goods to slide right off. It also makes it easier to clean up once you’re done.
You can use it to keep baked goods and candies from sticking to each other by layering the paper between them. What’s great about it is that you can easily re-use the parchment paper used for this purpose for other things.
Other than these obvious uses, parchment paper has several creative uses as well. You can take a piece of parchment paper and create an impromptu piping bag for decorating your cakes, cupcakes, and cookies!
The stiffness of the paper will prevent the melted chocolate or icing from leaking and will allow detailed writing and decorating.
When working on something messy, such as making meatballs or rolling out some dough, you can tape down a piece of parchment paper on your work surface to cover it and make the mess easier to clean.
Once done, all you have to do is loosen the tape, fold the parchment paper, and throw it away.
Freezer Paper Uses
Freezer paper, as the name suggests, is great for storing foods such as steaks or chicken in the freezer. Since it is made from heavy-duty paper, it cannot be easily punctured or torn like aluminum foil.
It can also be folded around a piece of meat to wrap it tightly without leaving any air around it. This prevents frost and freezer burn and makes the food items last much longer while maintaining their quality.
If you wish to prolong their life even more, you may first wrap them tightly using freezer paper and then seal them in a plastic freezer bag. Provided your freezer stays consistently at 0° or below, the frozen foods may stay fresh for up to a year.
Parchment Paper Vs Freezer Paper
When it comes to the differences between parchment paper and freezer paper, it all comes down to their coating and how they are made.
Parchment paper is a dense, yet thin paper that has no coating on either side. Since it is made of cellulose, it has non-stick properties without the need for any additional coating.
It is well-suited to withstand high temperatures without the risk of any coating or chemicals exposing themselves to the food they come in contact with.
That being said, parchment paper can be used in a variety of cooking techniques involving heat, such as in the oven or microwave.
Freezer paper, although thicker, resembles parchment paper to some extent. However, if you look closely, you will see that freezer paper has a plastic or wax coating on one side.
This coating is what makes freezer paper ideal for storing food in the freezer, particularly meat, since it allows locking out air and locking in moisture to keep the meat fresh for up to a year.
While this coating is great for avoiding freezer burn and keeping foods fresh, it is also the reason why it is not suitable to use freezer paper in the oven or microwave.
The heat will break down the coating which will ultimately melt into your food.
Just as you should never expose freezer paper to heat, you may not want to use parchment paper for freezing foods since its lack of coating will not lock in the moisture required to keep your food fresh.
Therefore, substituting them for one another may not be a viable option. The bottom line is that you should use parchment paper when working with heat and freezer paper for cold temperatures and maintaining freshness.
Now that you know the difference between parchment paper and freezer paper and whether you can substitute one for the other, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have!
What can you use instead of parchment paper?
When supplies are running low and you find yourself short on parchment paper, there are a few great substitutes that you can use instead, depending on what you intended to do with the parchment paper.
Silpat, also called silicone baking mat, is an excellent substitute for parchment paper when you want to line your baking sheets for cookies or roasting vegetables.
For making makeshift working surfaces and for room temperature storage, you may opt for wax paper.
Although the USDA states that wax paper can be heated if it is completely covered, it is best to not risk it and avoid using it in the oven. It is microwave-safe, though.
Since parchment paper works as an alternative to greasing your baking sheets, you can simply grease them as a quick and easy solution for having no parchment paper.
You may also use aluminum foil with oil or some high-quality non-stick sheet pans.
What can you use instead of freezer paper?
For times when you can’t get your hands on some freezer paper, you can substitute it with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or wax paper.
Aluminum foil can withstand both hot and cold temperatures and is also a great wrapping material. It prevents loss of moisture when using it to freeze foods and works great in place of freezer paper.
Plastic wrap is another great option that allows you to freeze meat just as well as freezer paper or aluminum foil.
Last but not the least, wax paper makes an excellent freezer paper substitute due to its coating that allows the moisture to stay in, but it is best used for short-term storage.
How do you thaw meat wrapped in freezer paper?
The one disadvantage of freezer paper is that it limits you in the ways you can thaw your meat wrapped in it.
Ideally, the best and safest method is to transfer your wrapped meat into the refrigerator for a few hours, preferably overnight, so that it defrosts completely.
However, this method may pose an issue if you are short on time. Unfortunately, you cannot immerse it in a bowl of cold water to speed up the process as the water would seep into the paper and soak your food.
The only way to use this faster method is if your food was sealed in a plastic freezer bag. Otherwise, it is best to stick with conventional refrigerator thawing.
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