Product focus: beeswax wraps
One of the best-selling products on the stall is beeswax wraps. These generate a lot of interest, as people have heard of them (mostly on Dragon's Den, it seems!) but don't quite know what to do with them or how to look after them. They are an eco-friendly alternative to cling film, and when cared for properly should last around one year.
The beeswax wraps I stock are made in Chesterfield by Steph Mannion, of Steph's Sustainable Stuff. Beeswax wraps are made of gingham fabric that is coated with a combination of beeswax, tree resin, and jojoba oil. The wax makes the cloth airtight/waterproof, the resin adds stickiness, and the jojoba oil helps keep it flexible over time.
Steph also makes a vegan version called Vees Wrap that uses plant wax instead of beeswax! These are great for vegans, but also for people with beeswax allergy.
The beeswax wraps come in 3 sizes: 20cm square, 30cm square, or 37cm square (Vees Wrap is 35cm square). Other sizes can be special ordered. I use them to wrap up half an onion or avocado, to cover bowls of leftovers, etc. The largest size is great for covering over a casserole dish or wrapping half a melon, for example. The heat from your hands melts the wax slightly to create the seal.
A couple of rules about beeswax wraps - don't put raw meat in them, and don't put them in the microwave or dishwasher. Make sure partners/children/parents/distant relatives know this, or you will need Steph's re-wax service (details at the end of this post).
To clean, hand wash them in cooler water (doesn't need to be cold) with a mild detergent. Don't over scrub them, or you'll take the wax off. Set them aside to air dry, and then stick them back in the empty space where your cling film used to live.
Over time, your wrap may lose its stickiness and lines will start to appear where the wraps have been folded or creased a lot. Every two to three months (depending on wear) you may need to do a quick freshen up.
Electric Oven Method
What you need:
- Baking tray large enough to fit the wrap
- A sheet of greaseproofor baking paper
Method: heat your oven to 60C (140F), and heat the wrap on the middle shelf for around 3 minutes, checking often. This will re-melt the wax and should fill in some of those crease lines. Carefully lift the wrap by two corners and waft it as it cools. When it is sticky again - but not wet - it is 'dry' and you can store it again. Do not use this method if you have a gas oven - the wrap could combust! You can save the paper with any 'escaped' wax on it for the next time you refresh it.
Instead, if you have a gas oven, you should use the:
What you need:
- Iron and ironing board
- an old tea towel (to protect your iron and ironing board from any wax that melts out)
- 2 sheets of greaseproof paper 2 inches larger than the wrap
Method: Heat the iron to its hottest setting. Place a tea towel on the ironing board, then layer one sheet of greaseproof paper, followed by your beeswax wrap, then the second sheet of paper. Iron the wrap, moving the iron around (don't leave it in one spot). You'll see the wax moving around through the paper. After you've ironed the entire wrap and can see the wax has all melted again, gently peel the wrap from the paper and waft until dry.
Steph recently launched a 'Re-waxing' service. She will re-wax any manufacturer's wraps - you can find her on Facebook under "Steph's Sustainable Stuff". Send her your wrap along with a self-addressed stamped envelope and she will re-wax for £1. You will need to message her on Facebook to get her address.
Prefer to see how it's done? Here are some great videos from the Beeswax Wraps company on how to use and care for beeswax wraps: