Any good home cook knows that aluminum foil and parchment paper are your friends. But when do you use which? And, are they interchangeable? We consulted our chefs for tricks of the trade. In a nutshell, parchment is versatile and disposable, while aluminum foil is insulating and reusable.
First, some quick definitions:
Parchment paper—also called bakery release paper, baking paper or bakery paper—is disposable cellulose paper used in baking. Because it’s coated with silicone, it can withstand very hot temperatures (unlike waxed paper, coated in paraffin, which is just for cold or room temp use). Parchment is both grease and moisture-resistant. It can be expensive, so keep that in mind as well.
Aluminum foil is metal leaves compressed into ultra-thin sheets, and it’s been in use for more than 100 years. It’s not “tin foil,” though, because it’s made of aluminum alloy. Foil is pretty useful, too, even outside the kitchen.
And now, some DO and DON’Ts from the pros:
- Wrap and cook fish in it.
- Line your counter top for use with messy food prep.
- Line your baking dish when roasting Little Potatoes for easy clean-up.
- Use it to line cake pans and cookie baking sheets.
- Use it to roll out pie and cookie dough.
- Use to keep a bowl of food warm. Foil is way more effective.
- Reuse. Parchment is best discarded after use—and you can put it in your compost bin (not waxed paper, though).
- Cover containers and wrap food for storage in the fridge.
- Use to protect foods, such as pie crusts, from burning in the oven.
- Form trays in which to cook or grill food, or use to wrap a bunch of Creamers together (first tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs) and roast on the grill.
- Line to-go containers to keep food warmer longer. Just poke a few fork holes to ventilate.
- Use as a funnel.
- Cover baking casseroles and such to seal in flavors and juices.
- Use to wrap steak, turkey, pork roasts and other meats after cooking to seal in heat as they rest. Wrap Creamer kabobs after grilling to keep toasty til serving.
- Wrap sandwiches.
- Wrap meat for freezing.
- Reuse and recycle! Aluminum can be reused. And once you’re done with it, it can be recycled. Aluminum is very expensive and energy intensive to produce initially, but easy to recycle.
- Use for cookies. You can bake cookies on foil, but they bake faster and the bottoms may burn. Parchment is better.
- Line cooking dishes. It can stick to food and peel off. Parchment is better. If you do use foil, oil it first.
GOT ANY FOIL OR PARCHMENT COOKING TIPS? SHARE WITH US!
Note Added May 2: We met the Paper Chef folks at the Montreal Womens show just this last weekend- they were delightful and what a great product to use with our Creamer potatoes! Check out their site for more parchment uses: paperchef.com.
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