Dough recipes often call for the use of plastic wrap either as a wrap to prevent the dough from drying out in the refrigerator or as a cover to trap air and moisture so that the dough can rise or proof successfully.
Now not everyone will have or want to use plastic wrap whether you are looking for ways to reduce your plastic usage because of health concerns or to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
And thankfully there are many simple alternatives to plastic wrap that can be found right in your home.
Here are some of the best options to replace plastic wrap usage in dough making:
- Damp Kitchen towel/ tea towel
- Reusable Zipper bags
- Silicone Zipper Bags
- Bread bags
- Containers with a tight lid
- Silicone Stretch Lids
- A plate and a bowl
- Shower Hat
- Placing the dough in a warm place
- Parchment Paper
- Aluminum Foil
Some Other Eco-Friendly Options are:
12. Resealable Compostable food bags
13. Reusable Beeswax Food Storage Wrap
1. Using a Kitchen Towel/ Tea Towel
The use of kitchen/ tea Towels is a method that was popular before the rise of Plastic Wrap.
Many old school bakers still use a damp kitchen towel to cover the dough as it rises. The Kitchen towel helps to seal in the moisture as well as the warmth needed to help make the dough rise.
Simply get a clean, damp kitchen towel and place it over the bowl with the dough inside.
You also need to make sure the towel you’re using is a finely-woven, non-textured cotton cloth or even a piece of canvas or linen can work as well.
It can also help to work some flour into the cloth itself. Lay it flat on the counter, sprinkle some flour on top, and then use your fingers to gently rub the flour into the fabric weave. This helps to prevent your dough from sticking to the towel as it rises.
2. Reusable Zipper Bags
You can use zipper bags to store pastry dough inside before refrigerating it.
Try to remove all the air from inside the bags before sealing and placing them in the refrigerator. These bags may be reused after using them. Popular brands of reusable bags include Ziplock and Glad.
3. Silicone Zipper Bags
Silicone Zipper bags are perfect for storing small amounts of pastry dough in the refrigerator and they can also be washed and reused.
They help to keep air and moisture from the dough in the refrigerator. And are perfect as an alternative to other plastic zipper bags.
I recommend using SPLF Bags they are the brand that I use and are currently one of the most popular brands of reusable silicone zipper bags available. You can click to see the current price for a 12 pack.
4. Reuse a Bread Bag
Use a kitchen scissor to cut open the seams of a clean bread bag. Then use the plastic from the bread bag to wrap pastry dough instead of throwing away the bag.
5. Use a Container with an Airtight Lid
Your dough can be placed in a container with an air tight lid.
Use a container that’s at least twice the size of the dough, so that proofing can be facilitated. Now some doughs like bread dough need to be proofed and covering it helps this process.
If there’s a hole in your plastic wrap or if you use a cloth that doesn’t create a tight seal, air exposure will cause the top of your dough to become crusty and tough.
Keeping your dough in a food-safe container and covered completely with an airtight seal prevents crusting on top and encourages complete and consistent proofing.
6- Silicone Stretch Lids
Silicone stretch lids are a great alternative to plastic wrap. They come in many different sizes and they can fit over containers of almost any size, plus you can reuse them hundreds of times.
The vast majority of silicone stretch lids are circular in shape. However, due to their super-stretchy nature, you can use them on containers of virtually any shape.
These Silicone Stretch can be used as a cover for the bowls holding the dough and can help prevent air from drying out your dough.
Silicone is also nonporous so your dough won’t stick to it, so silicone stretch lids are generally easy to clean.
Silicone stretch lids are eco-friendly since they can be reused indefinitely, as opposed to Cling Wrap, which is a single-use item that in most areas can’t be recycled. Silicone is naturally BPA-free, unlike many plastic food storage containers.
7. Cover the bowl with a plate
The basic reason for covering your dough with plastic wrap is to prevent your dough from drying out and getting cracked.
And covering your bowl with an oiled plate also helps to prevent the dough from drying out. Just make sure your bowl has space for the dough to rise and the plate stops the air from affecting the dough.
8. Use a Shower Hat
You can utilize a nylon shower hat to cover up the dough inside of a bowl and reuse it again and again. The elastic wrap of the shower hat around the bowl prevents air from getting to the dough.
9. Placing the Dough in a Warm Place
Place the dough along with a container of hot water in an unheated oven or microwave. There is no need to use plastic wrap to cover the bowl.
To proof bread dough in the oven, place a glass baking dish on the bottom rack of the oven and fill it with boiling water. Place your uncovered bowl of dough on the middle or top rack and shut the door. The steam and heat from the boiling water will create a warm and steamy environment for the dough.
If you are using a microwave, Place a glass of hot water into the microwave. Then put the uncovered bowl with the dough, into a turned-off microwave, making sure to close the door of the microwave so air will not enter.
Many dough needs warmth for the dough to be proofed and the hot water helps keep the dough soft during proofing as well. The steamy environment keeps the dough from developing a crust without needing the container storing the dough to be covered.
This method is particularly useful for yeast dough that require warm temperatures for proofing. In the cold months when temperatures are cold indoors as well as outdoors, yeast dough may take a long time to rise as yeast does its job best at temperatures above 75ºF.
The Ideal temperatures for rising the dough are between 80°F – 90°F. Higher temperatures may kill the yeast and keep the dough from rising; lower temperatures will slow the yeast activity which will increase your rise time.
10. Parchment Paper
Parchment paper can also be used to cover your dough while it is rising and prevents it from drying out. Kitchen string can be used to wrap the parchment paper around the bowl so it stays in place. But this type of paper may not be secure enough to wrap pastry dough in so that it can be refrigerated.
11. Wrap the Dough in Aluminum Foil
- First, grease your foil with butter or oil and wrap the dough tightly inside it
- And then place it in a food-safe plastic bag before placing it in the refrigerator
- Or you can use the foil for proofing the dough by making the foil the cover for the top of the bowl with the dough inside.
Eco Friendly Substitutes to Plastic Wrap
12. Resealable Compostable food bags
Compostable food bags are super easy and quick to use for wrapping dough such as pastry dough before storing them in the refrigerator.
First, wrap the dough in the compostable food bag and then try to remove as much air as possible from the bag before placing the dough in the refrigerator.
Compostable bags are made of natural plant starch and do not produce any toxic material. Compostable goods are organic matter that breaks down to become a pile of nutrient-rich soil.
Compostable bags are very different than Biodegradable Bags. You see Biodegradable Bags are often just plastic bags that have microorganisms added to them to help break down the plastic in a more sustainable way but they are still made of plastic.
One of the popular brands of Compostable Bag is Second Nature, Amazon usually has them, you can click here to check them out.
13. Reusable Beeswax Food Storage Wrap
Beeswax can be used as a cover for bowls with the dough instead of plastic wrap.
Using Beeswax is a very eco-friendly option that keeps your dough very moist and at the same time helps the dough to rise by keeping air from drying the dough out. Beeswax Wraps eliminates the need for disposable plastic alternatives like plastic wrap.
It is self-adhesive, so it easily and conveniently covers various containers and dishes. It also has a stretchy structure that allows it to stretch over a bowl just like plastic foil.
Beeswax is made with certified organic cotton that has been coated with sustainably sourced beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. Beeswax Storage food wraps can be washed with mild soap and cool water and then be reused.
A Popular Brand of Beeswax Food Wrap is Abeego, you can click here to see the current price on Amazon.
Why You Should Avoid Using Plastic Wrap
1- Saves the Environment
Plastic wrap contributes to the larger plastic pollution crisis, this is because it is very difficult to recycle, and it’s made from potentially harmful chemicals, especially as they break down in the environment.
And even when the plastic wrap is recycled, it’s costlier than using virgin materials. Some plastic wraps are made of PVDC, PVC, polyethylene, and waxed cotton.
And when these plastic wraps end up in either landfills or incinerators, both PVC and PVDC can release a highly toxic chemical called dioxin.
So to help play your part to preserve our environment avoid plastic wraps and consider investing in an eco-friendly option.
Plastic Wrap is as the name suggests made of plastics that can contain a wide array of different chemicals that can potentially have negative health effects. Now if you are like me and you are worried about this you can use non-plastic alternatives.
3- Saves Money
If you invest in a container that is completely reusable you can over time save a lot of money from not having to constantly be buying plastic wraps.
The average family goes through close to 24 rolls of plastic wrap per year. Two boxes of plastic wrap, ranging from three to five dollars each, per month adds up to around nearly $90 per year.