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10 Reasons to Use Parchment Paper

Uses for parchment paper in the kitchen -

Growing up, I always thought of parchment paper as something people wrote letters on. It involved a fountain pen and a blotter. It was all very romantic but had nothing to do with chocolate chip cookies and poached salmon.

Times changed. Parchment crept into professional kitchens and elbowed its way into gourmet magazines. Confused, I asked my mother about it. She dismissed culinary parchment as an unnessessary money grab. Aluminum foil, waxed paper and plastic wrap were inexpensive and easy to get. Why on earth would she need parchment? Having survived the Great Depression, my mother is extremely pragmatic. She calls BS on products that dazzle fanciful people like me. She is seldom wrong. But when it comes to parchment, I think she’s living in the Dark Ages. Sorry, Mom. I hate to say it, but you’re wrong.

Coated with a thin film of silicone, culinary parchment is a non-stick, oven-safe, moisture-resistant culinary workhorse. It’s replaced my waxed paper completely. Even my eager plastic wrap is feeling neglected. And the aluminum foil? It can’t wait for the hot weather. Nowadays it’s called upon only for the grill.

I’ve been using PaperChef for a couple of years now. They recently sent me some samples to try out. I obliged. While it’s not ideal for letter-writing, parchment is indispensable in my kitchen. It’s right up there with my microplane and beloved French rolling pin. Here are 10 reasons I believe parchment products deserves a spot in your cramped pantry.

  1. It’s user-friendly: Ignore the watermark. It’s branding, not an indication of which side to use. Unlike aluminum foil, either side is the right side. As far as handling goes, if you can tear off a sheet of aluminum foil or waxed paper, you can deal with parchment. PaperChef makes pre-cut sheets. If these appeal, be sure to check your pan size first. The sheets don’t fit my pans, but are still very handy for counter work.
  2. It’s compostable and 100% recyclable: Our municipality earmarks waxed paper for landfill. Parchment paper, however, can be disposed of with the compostables. I feel no guilt tossing used parchment. Plastic wrap on the other hand? I apologize to future generations.
  3. It’s reusable: As long as the item you’re cooking isn’t too wet, you can get a second or even third use out of a sheet of parchment. Think kale chips, cookies and granola. Fish? Not so much.
  4. It works in heat: Because parchment can take indirect heat up to 425°F,  you can bake cakes or roast meat and vegetables without fear. But it is paper, so keep it away from the broiler or stovetop elements.
  5. It works in cold: Moisture-resistant parchment withstands temperature fluctuations better than waxed paper. Use it to roll chilled items like icebox cookies or herb butter. Place a piece of parchment between hamburger patties, waffles, or squares before they go into the freezer. The food will divide easily and the parchment divider won’t tear.
  6. It saves clean-up time:  While parchment doesn’t actually wash the dishes, it might save you the effort. No more chiselling cookies off baking sheets or leaving portions of cake in the bottom of the pan. And lasagna? Say good-bye to overnight soaks. Just line and lift. It also reduces prep mess. You won’t need cooking sprays and will never have to grease and flour straight-edged cake tins again. Convoluted bundt pans are another story.
  7. It prevents spills: Parchment won’t defy gravity, but it can help you lift items from the pan more easily. Let the parchment overhang the edges to form a makeshift handle. Then simply lift the baked goods out. Bonus: When baking granola, fold the parchment lining into a funnel for easy pouring.
  8. It saves your pans: Think of parchment as a protective layer. Since I’ve started using parchment my pans have stopped aging dramatically. Maybe PaperChef should branch into skin care.
  9. You can write on it: Grab a Sharpie. The ink won’t soak through or smudge once dried. Label what you’ve wrapped. Trace your pan to cut a perfectly shaped lining. Or draw rounds for uniform meringues. (Just flip the parchment over before you pipe. You can see the outline but the food won’t touch the ink.) Wrap a sandwich and write a love note to embarrass your kids — or delight your husband. No fountain pen or blotter needed.
  10. It takes many shapes: PaperChef sells parchment rolls, muffin cups, pre-cut sheets, and en papillote bags. If you have limited pantry space, keep a roll on hand. You can bend parchment to your will — or at least fold it into useful shapes. You can cut it to fit any shape or size of pan (see #9), form your own muffin cups (picture below), fold it into serving cones for snacks like popcorn, or make a disposable piping bag.

Parchment muffin liners -- self-made and pre-shaped. Both work -

There. Ten reasons to use parchment. I’m not sure if I’ve convinced my mom. She’s a tough sell. Have I convinced you? If you’re already a convert, how do you use parchment?


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8 Responses to 10 Reasons to Use Parchment Paper

  1. Vanessa May 24, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Alright, I will give it another try, but I find it terribly finicky when trying to get it into pans.

    My real reason to comment though is to tell you how much I have been loving your photography. Really beautiful Charmian!

    • Charmian Christie May 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

      Thanks so much for your kind words about my photos. I’m working hard at improving them. Oh, I shudder to think of how I polluted the web with flash-washed images a few years ago.

      Getting parchment into pans can be tricky, but well worth the effort. . I should do a post dedicated to that. Thanks for sharing your frustrations. I’m sure you’re not alone in this.

      Keep baking!

  2. wendyb964 May 24, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    I used to consider it a luxury as a small roll at the grocery store seemed pricey. Now available at my big box club store, it’s far less expensive and I don’t feel so decadent. It’s invaluable for lining 9×13 pans of brownies, layered bar cookies, and layer cake pans. Too lazy to cut the two strips that would make nice square corners for a square/rectangular pan, I lift the entire contents out and slice the outer 1/2 inch or so off all sides to “pretty” it up which leaves lots of nibbles for us (usually most of what I bake gets given/sold to others.) Not a fan of regular paper cupcake liners, preferring foil, I might be a convert to parchment paper ones. Thanks!

    • Charmian Christie May 27, 2013 at 12:41 am #

      What a great way to use parchment without fussing. As for cupcake/muffin liners, the paper ones can stick and tear the baked goods. The parchment ones don’t. I think they are worth buying but a lot depends on how often you bake, what you bake and how much room you have in the pantry cupboard.

      Thanks for sharing your smart, “lazy” way of lining brownie pans! Bake on!

  3. Phillip June 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    “Ten reasons to use parchment. Have I convinced you?”

    Definitely, come me in!
    Phillip recently posted…How to Create the Best Garden PondMy Profile

    • Charmian Christie June 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

      You’re in!

  4. Susan Sampson June 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    I’m with you on the parchment. I love it, too. To get it to stick and straighten in the baking dish, I very lightly grease the pan, then press the parchment onto that. It molds nicely and doesn’t shift when I pour in the batter. There are some interesting specialty sizes. I have a box of small parchment squares, which I don’t use much, but they do come in handy occasionally. They also make pre-cut tube pan parchment liners, which I rarely see in stores. I have tried the parchment liners for cupcakes/muffins, but didn’t like them because they gaped and pulled away from my cupcakes — too messy looking.

    • Charmian Christie June 13, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

      Great tip on getting parchment to stay put in the baking dish. Thanks so much for that. I have never seen pre-cut tube pan liners but wouldn’t have the room for them even if I did stumble upon them. I’ll stick to butter and flour for now. :-)

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your expertise. For those who don’t know, Susan Sampson is an amazing food writer, author, and a former food editor with the Toronto Star. Just standing near her makes me a better cook.

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