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Foil vs. Wrap when cookingq

(I thought I posted this a few days ago, but I can't find it. Apologies if it is a duplicate.)

I love foil. I HATE plastic wrap. I imagine there are reasons for using wrap over foil when cooking, I am curious what they would be. Otherwise, for ease, I would stick with foil. Anyone?

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  1. For actual cooking?
    I only use wrap if I'm microwaving. And that's a rare occasion.
    If I'm storing something, I wrap in foil. The only time I differ is anything that's tomato based. Sometimes the acid in the tomatoes can react with the aluminum foil (during long term storage, not cooking) and eat through the foil, or degrade it in some way (call it names, insult it's mother...). So, I'll plastic wrap things like lasagna and baked ziti. I also will plastic wrap breads and aluminum foil over that. It provides better protection against the air than foil alone.

    1. Wouldn't plastic wrap melt while cooking?

      I use plastic wrap for storage in the refrigerator and use it to cover a salad bowl and toss a salad to distribute the dressing evenly.

      1. Foil is "reactive". Any foods that need to be cooked in or on "non-reactive" surfaces will suffer (e.g. tomato sauce).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Christnp

          Ok, let me ask M and C: why not go ahead and use foil to cover a salad bowl and toss a salad? Does it make that big a difference? And how about the tomato sauce. Once cooked, if I put it in a bowl and am then going to put it in the fridge, will it still make a difference then?

          1. re: Tom P

            Because I flip that puppy upside down and shake it, and the seal with wrap keeps dressing from dripping down the outer sides of the bowl.

        2. Wrap for cooking? Say it ain't so Joe?

          Never cook with plastic wrap. The easy one is in the oven, it melts, but that should not be an epiphany.

          Likewise never in the MV unless the wrap is MV approved. There is a potential for tranference of bad stuff from wrap to food, could be very dangerous.

          Use waxed paper in MV and foil in oven.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            I learned in cooking school to use plastic film under foil for baking, it forms an airtight seal and it doesn't melt. Just make sure all the film is covered by the foil or the edges will stick to the pan. It bakes so much better that way, you should try it.
            Here's Snopes take on microwaving plastic:

            1. re: coll


              If you click on "Cookingv Safely in the Microwave Oven" you will see the following:

              "Only use cookware that is specially manufactured for use in the microwave oven. Glass, ceramic containers, and all plastics should be labeled for microwave oven use.
              Plastic storage containers such as margarine tubs, take-out containers, whipped topping bowls, and other one-time use containers should not be used in microwave ovens. These containers can warp or melt, possibly causing harmful chemicals to migrate into the food.
              Microwave plastic wraps, wax paper, cooking bags, parchment paper, and white microwave-safe paper towels should be safe to use. Do not let plastic wrap touch foods during microwaving.
              Never use thin plastic storage bags, brown paper or plastic grocery bags, newspapers, or aluminum foil in the microwave oven. "

              So I am not sure which side of the discussion you fall into but the article linked basically states "Not To"

            2. re: jfood

              nope, it doesnt melt when used to slowly roast foods at a very low temperature.

            3. Not for cooking per se, but it can be useful for terrines, rolling a roulade, pounding out chicken breasts, etc.

              1. how about to prevent a skin from forming on puddings? there's one for ya!

                1 Reply
                1. re: missfunkysoul


                  Not for me. I love the skin. we used to fight over it. :-))

                2. Plastic wrap gives more of an airtight seal, like when covering dough while it rises. It also can be used to wrap things like cheese that might absorb a tinny flavor from foil. I would never, however, put plastic wrap in the oven.

                  1. When slowly braising spare ribs in the oven on a low heat my chef/mentor taught me to first wrap the roasting pan in plastic wrap and then cover this with foil.
                    This works spectacularly to seal in moisture.

                    1. I use plastic instead of foil simply because it's cheaper, but only for storage. The air-tight factor is also key. Mrs. Puerco also hates plastic wrap. It's because of her poor technique, but that's one of those subjects that I don't bring up.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: El Puerco

                        I have to laugh because I imagine it is my poor technique that causes me to hate it. I just can't get the hang of it. Imagine your worst nightmare when you use plastic wrap - scrunching up, twisting back on itself, never being able to find the beginning, etc, even when it is advertised as cling free et all - and that is me with the damned stuff.

                        Any advice as to how to master this technique would be very much appreciated.

                        1. re: Tom P

                          I have the same problems. Not only that, but when I finally do get the damn thing unstuck and unraveled, and put it on the bowl/plate/container, it DOESN'T STICK!

                          1. re: Tom P

                            For developing world plastic wrap it is important to be able to separate the leading edge from the roll. After you cut off a piece (no, wrap here can't be cut by--even if there was one--the serrated blade on the edge of the box), twist little "ears" from each corner of the wrap on the roll. Work quickly after draping a piece over a bowl or whatever--stratching the wrap tight and evenly down the sides before the wrap clings and curls in on itself.

                            1. re: Tom P

                              I've never considered myself an expert on wrap, but if I can help just one person...

                              If you are covering a bowl or plate, grab the free end of the wrap in one hand with the roll in the other. Pull out enough to cover the bowl and put it over top curling the free end around the lip of the container. Then, and only then do you use the free end hand to hold the wrap near the cutting edge and move the roll so that the far end comes up and toward you, tearing the wrap. Then tightly curl the freshly cut end around the lip. Turn the work 90 degrees and stretch out the other direction and curl over the lip. This works well with stainless steel bowls or something with a well-defined edge. Plastic bowls do not seem to stick to plastic wrap.

                              If wrapping a loose food item, lay out the wrap on the counter, place food on, wrap free end over food and tear off.

                              Different brands have different clingability(?). I use Vita-wrap which comes in 1000 ft. packs.

                              1. re: El Puerco

                                Wrap in the developing world can never be cut with the serrated blade.

                                Without twisting in the little "ears" wrap in the developing world will always stick to itself on the roll. Getting it free will always require more wrap wasted than used to do whatever.

                                Two pieces of wrap in the developing world will always seek each other out and stick to each other, even if the two pieces started at opposite sides of the room.

                          2. I love the new press and seal glad wrap because it's airtight. Great for any liquids or anything that might spill. Lots of good non-food uses, too.

                            1. I think the main advantage of wrap is that it's cheaper and makes a tighter seal.

                              1. I have been using plastic wrap under foil for braising since I have been making some braises from Luques. Susan Goin instructs you to do this for short ribs, corned beef and a few other dishes that are braised at 325F. The plastic wrap does not melt. It works very well to seal all the juices in airtight. She doesn't comment except to say "yes, it can go in the oven."

                                Foil will not seal airtight for the fridge, so will no keep your food as well or for as long. If you have so much trouble you might like the type my mother uses. It is called Reynolds Blue Plastic Wrap with EZ Slide Cutter. It does not stick to itself much, but it will stretch to seal. The big deal is that you unroll the wrap and use a little finger slide to cut it. No ripping or pulling.