Parchment paper is a common cooking accessory, known for its non-stick properties and heat resistance. Also, parchment paper is a hot commodity on the market because it’s very affordable.
However, note that parchment paper is quite different from wax paper. The major difference is in the materials used. While wax paper, as the name implies, uses wax, parchment paper is usually coated with a heat-resistant and non-stick material like silicone.
Parchment paper is also popular because of the convenience it brings. You can walk into any kitchenware store, buy pre-cut sheets, use them, and dispose of them after use. As simple as ABC. As much as we’ll be discussing the use of parchment paper in dehydrator machines here, note that you can use it for many different things.
Read on to learn more about these uses and the differences between parchment paper and wax paper.
Differences Between Wax Paper and Parchment Paper
Have you ever wondered if you can switch out your parchment dehydrator sheet for wax paper? Well, you wouldn't be the only one to consider it. However, we have to warn you, they are NOT the same. In fact, switching them out could be dangerous.
Although both coated papers are excellent for wrapping leftovers, the similarities end there. For a quick distinction, wax paper is ideal for cold things, while parchment paper works great with the heat.
What Is Wax Paper Used For?
You should NEVER use wax paper in your oven. This paper is coated with soybean or paraffin wax which melts at low heat. It could even ignite at higher temperatures. At best, your food is ruined. At worst, your house burns down. Either way, you have a bad day.
Hazards aside, wax paper is non-stick and does not let water pass through, so its main value is for food prep or storage. You can lay down wax paper before measuring messy items to make cleaning up after easy. It is also great for rolling out dough or pounding cutlets.
Wax paper also works great for wrapping stuff up. From your sandwiches to your butter and cheese, wax paper is a great wrapper. It also helps to keep foods from getting stuck while freezing. All you have to do is put a sheet of wax paper between them.
One thing you should note though, is that you can only use a wax paper once. Unlike a parchment paper, you cannot wash, dry, or reuse wax papers and they would have to be disposed of after each use.
What Is Parchment Paper Used For?
The coating on parchment paper, as we've said earlier, makes it heat resistant. That means that while this silicone sheet may darken, it will not burn. It is also greaseproof, durable, and moisture resistant. Parchment paper recently became popular as a way to package food gifts.
Parchment paper is great for lining your oven pan and trays when cooking. Most people butter these bake pans before using the parchment to help them stick. You can use parchment for meatloaf, fish, vegetables, and any fruit combination you wish. It'll help you clean up more easily, and you won't have to scrub out crusted remains.
When dehydrating, you can use parchment paper to line the trays of your food drier or dehydrator. This is great when making things like crackers. It is also advantageous when drying items that could slip through the holes of your food dehydrator tray. Parchment paper also helps avoid a big mess when making no-bake dried cookies and helps keep the cookies from sticking to the tray.
If your paper does not come precut, you can cut it with scissors to fit your tray. Place it on your tray and then place the food item or fruit on the paper. Then turn on your dehydrator just as you would. You can throw away this paper when done or reuse it a few times to help reduce environmental impact.
Types of Parchment Paper
There are many different brands of parchment paper available on the market. This is good, as we will often find ourselves using it to make our cooking process a little cleaner. We will discuss some great brands later.
The two major types of parchment paper are bleached and unbleached, which is the major decision you have to make prior to purchase. Here’s the difference between both and which one you should use.
Differences Between Bleached and Unbleached Parchment Paper
While these two parchment papers do not have any functional difference, they are mostly different in appearance. Just as the name suggests, bleached is white while the unbleached version is brown.
Unbleached paper is untreated and has no chlorine in it. Its bleached counterpart has that lovely white color due to chlorine treatment. You can quite easily find both of these types of parchment paper at the store. You can also find them online. However, there is a chance the unbleached parchment paper could be slightly more expensive.
Which Type of Parchment Paper Should You Use?
The best kind of parchment paper for you depends on your needs. Both types can be used interchangeably for the same kind of cooking activities. The color or treatment of the paper will not change the outcome of your recipe or activity.
Some people have a problem with bringing too many chemicals into their home, so they might prefer the unbleached option. However, you should know there are no studies showing that bleached parchment contains chemicals that could be harmful to your health in any way.
3 Top Brands of Parchment Paper
As we mentioned earlier, there are many brands of parchment paper available on the market, and you’ll see many options when you go to your local store. In no particular order, here are three popular brands we recommend:
1. SMARTAKE Parchment Paper Baking Sheet
People love SMARTAKE Parchment Paper because it comes pre-cut in 12” x 16” sheets. That means you don’t have to find scissors and get to slicing when it’s time to use parchment paper in your dehydrator. We love this because it cuts down on your cooking or baking time. It’s also unbleached, and the pack contains about 200 sheets.
You can use SMARTAKE Parchment Paper for baking, grilling, frying, and steaming. The sheets are non-toxic and heat resistant. Temperatures up to 450°F are no problem for SMARTAKE Parchment Paper.
People really enjoy using this brand because of the effective packaging. It is carefully packed so that your sheets come out without folding. It also shows you where to cut using perforations, and the packaging doesn’t take up too much space. SMARTAKE Parchment Paper is FDA approved, so it is safe for you to buy and use at home.
2. Reynolds Kitchens Parchment Paper Roll
Reynolds Kitchens Parchment Paper Roll includes three individual boxes. Each of these boxes contains 50 square feet of paper. Customers love this brand because it has marked lines that make cutting easy. It also has even spacing, and it can withstand up to 425°F of heat.
People also love this parchment paper brand because it comes with a SmartGrid for easy measuring. If you’re making cookies, this comes in very handy for spacing your dough. You can also reuse the paper up to three times before you have to throw it away.
Conservationists will love this one because it is environmentally friendly, and the paper is compostable. You can even use it in your home compost heap. It’s available to buy on Amazon.
3. IF YOU CARE FSC Certified Parchment Baking Paper
IF YOU CARE is another parchment brand that conservationists will love. The company itself is dedicated to making high-quality, environmentally friendly products. One pack contains about 70 square feet and does not require greasing.
This product is unbleached and can be used for reheating, wrapping, baking, or roasting. There is also the precut option so go for that if you need it. Sheets are sized 12.5” x 16”. IF YOU CARE FSC Certified Parchment Baking Paper can resist heat up to 428°F. For the uncut version, you can make around 50 to 70 sheets from a single roll.
How to Use a Roll of Parchment Paper in Your Food Dehydrator
Dehydrating is a cooking process where water content is removed from your food or fruit to make your food last longer than normal. The kitchen appliance used for this task is called a food dehydrator.
Most people use the dehydration process to preserve food that comes from their garden. That’s often where parchment paper comes in. Some of these fruits are so small that they’ll slip through the holes in your tray during the drying process. Parchment paper can also help you make fruit leather.
Sometimes, your dehydrator might come with its own traditional dehydrator sheet. But if it doesn’t, you will need to add one to line the tray. Honestly, when it comes to using parchment paper in your dehydrator, there is a simple process to follow. Here is an outline of what you’ll need to do:
- Tear out a piece of dehydrator paper that is larger than your tray
- Place it on the counter
- Use your dehydrator trays to trace the exact size of paper you will need
- Use scissors to cut your parchment paper to the correct size
- Place the parchment paper on your food dehydrator tray
- Place the food on top of the parchment paper
- Place the trays in the dehydrator and start your dehydrating process
- When done, remove the dehydrator trays
- Lift the parchment paper from the trays
- Remove your dried-out foods from the parchment paper
- Either dispose of the parchment paper or keep for reuse
To avoid making mistakes and wasting your roll of parchment paper, follow these tips:
Reasons Why You Should Use Parchment Paper in Dehydrator
Okay, so we’ve touched a bit on this in the paragraphs above. Parchment paper has many more uses when it comes to dehydrators. Here are some of them:
1. You Don’t Have to Clean Up After
The time saved when using trays with parchment paper is a huge plus. You’ll also expend much less energy, to be honest. Without parchment paper, you may discover that a lot of your cooking has stuck to the tray. That takes time and effort to clean. You’ll have to scrape it off, and then you still need to wash your tray. Using parchment paper will save you the stress of getting your dehydrator clean.
2. Longer Lasting Trays
Parchment paper makes your trays last longer. Picture not having to constantly scrape food off your trays. This will mean less scrubbing and washing with soapy water. Your trays will last longer and maintain their good condition as a result. You also won’t have excess oil and dried sugars shortening the life span of your trays.
3. Your Food Won’t Fall Through the Cracks
Dehydrator trays come with holes because it helps the heat circulate easily through the appliance. When placing fresh fruit on the tray, you most likely won’t have any problems. The issue arises when moisture has been lost and the fruit has shrunk. They could end up falling through the holes. A thin layer of parchment paper placed on the tray will offer a safety net preventing that.
4. Parchment Paper Allows Ventilation
Unlike the other alternatives such as wax paper and aluminum foil, parchment paper lets your food breathe. The others tend to seal out the air. You need this air to pass through so that it can dehydrate your food. This also helps your drying time.
5. It Is Versatile
Whether your goal is making fruit leather or you want a fruit roll-up, parchment paper works for all types of fruit. You can also dry jerky, herbs, and many other kinds of food. All you have to do is line the tray with parchment paper and begin the drying process.
Safety While Using Parchment Paper in Dehydrator
Sometimes, people wonder if it is safe to use parchment paper in a dehydrator. The answer is yes. It’s okay to be worried about things like this, so we’ve listed out some reasons why parchment paper is safe for your dehydrator.
1. Heat Resistance
The heat resistance of parchment paper is important. The paper’s heat resistance is due to the silicone material used as a coating. Silicone itself is highly heat resistant and has a very high melting point. Compared to the high heat resistance of the paper, dehydrators operate at very low temperatures. The temperature will never be high enough to cause combustion or melting.
There are also no chemicals in parchment paper. So, you can relax knowing that no strange chemical reaction will happen while you cook your food. While the creation process might involve a few chemicals, none are harmful. You can also use the unbleached version if you want to reduce the chemicals in your home even more.
3. Reusability Protects the Environment
Parchment paper can also be reused, reducing the impact on the environment. Often, people use them 3-4 times depending on how the paper feels and its overall condition. If it starts to feel brittle, it’s time to change. You can also use both sides of the paper. By getting the most out of your parchment paper, you are putting less trash in the ground.
Now that we are at the end of our journey, it would be great to think a bit about what we have discussed. One is that if your dehydrator does not come with a traditional dehydrator sheet, a store-bought version is excellent. We think parchment paper is the best choice for use in a dehydrator.
Parchment paper also has many other benefits besides the basic function of using it to line your dehydrator trays. One of those is that it saves you the many hours you'd have spent scrubbing grease from your kitchen appliance. It also helps avoid spilled food, helps reduce the size of your cooking prep mess, reduces the clean-up burden, can withstand high heat, and limits the impact on the environment.
Now that you know what product to use to line your dehydrator trays, nothing is stopping you from getting to work and making some fantastic homemade food!