One of a home cook’s favorite tools is parchment paper. So, we might wonder – can parchment paper be used for freeze-drying? What are the benefits when using it to freeze-dry our food?
Parchment paper can be used when freeze-drying food. It primarily serves as a liner on the trays and prevents the food from getting stuck to the stainless steel trays. While using parchment paper isn’t necessary, it helps save time when transferring food to other containers.
For someone who doesn’t want to spend extra cash on parchment paper, it isn’t necessary when freeze-drying food. But for those who want a seamless experience with a freeze-dryer, using parchment paper may prove beneficial.
For many freeze-dryer owners, parchment paper is an accessory they love to use. Want to know more about using parchment paper while freeze-drying? Keep reading to find out.
Is it Safe to Use Parchment Paper in a Freeze-Dryer?
Parchment paper is safe to use in a freeze-dryer. It is a favorite way to line trays for most people who own them. It’s a recommended liner instead of the usual trays, mainly because it’s safe to use with food and is less flimsy than other liners.
Parchment paper is a popular and food-safe liner for freeze-drying. It’s usually treated with silicone.
It makes excellent liner paper for the freeze-dryer because the silicone coating makes the paper nonstick. It’s also temperature resistant making it better than most liners.
Parchment Paper isn’t flimsy due to the type of material. So, other than being a safe choice and can also be reused several times.
In addition, there’s reusable parchment paper which we can reuse even more than regular paper.
If you’d rather use a reusable silicone mat instead of parchment paper, make sure you read this article: Can You Use Silicone in a Freeze-Dryer? Things to Know!
How to Cut Parchment Paper to Use in a Freeze-Dryer
Cut the parchment paper by directly cutting the roll according to the length of the trays. Once it is cut to size, then cut it into several smaller sheets according to its width. The freeze-dryer manual will have a size guide, so all that needs to be done is to match the size of each tray.
Pre-cut parchment paper is available for freeze-dryers in many stores and online in assorted sizes. However, buying a regular roll of parchment paper is cheaper for some individuals. The roll can be cut into any size and is ideal for different tray sizes.
Using tools like scissors or a cutter are good options. But first, buy a large roll of parchment paper.
Parchment paper is easy to cut. We can do it by pressing on one side with a ruler and separating the other half to make a clean cut.
Parchment paper might be on the pricey side, but don’t worry. We can reuse even the regular kind two to four times. To save on parchment paper, keep everything on a roll and just cut a sheet to replace the one in use.
We can use parchment paper multiple times with ingredients that don’t contain much water.
Some of you might be asking how to cut the roll. Many freeze-dryer owners have a dedicated chop saw to cut rolls of parchment paper.
In addition, some craft or baking shops might also offer this service, so it’s a clever idea to ask around the neighborhood.
If there isn’t a chop saw at home, or there isn’t anywhere that offers to cut parchment paper, we can always cut each sheet up individually or buy pre-cut parchment paper.
While individually cutting each sheet might take time, it might be the cheaper option. Scissors of all kinds will cut parchment paper.
When NOT to Use Parchment Paper
Don’t use parchment paper when dealing with liquid food, like freeze-drying milk. When removing these types of foods from the tray, pieces of parchment paper might get stuck into the freeze-dried food. Instead, consider working with a silicone mat or no liner for food like milk.
Otherwise, parchment paper will save the trouble of having food stuck in trays or pans. In addition, parchment paper is a great kitchen aid to use other than for freeze-drying. We can easily use parchment paper for different cooking needs.
Do you like making a batch of cookies? Parchment paper is great to have on hand. Just watch the temperature when it comes to using parchment paper.
While it is heat resistant, avoid using it with cooking above 400 degrees.
Which is Better: Parchment Paper or Silicone?
Both get the job done for freeze-drying, but the main difference is that parchment paper gets thrown away while silicone is reusable. Parchment paper has some reusability, but will eventually have to be thrown out. Silicone, however, is good for thousands of uses or until it visibly degrades.
Parchment paper is quite a bit cleaner and easier to use. It also saves time and effort, and there’s no need to clean the trays or the paper.
If similar freeze-drying food, we can reuse parchment paper. Once the parchment paper becomes unusable, it goes straight into the trash.
On the other hand, we can use silicone mats several thousands of times, but we’ll need to wash them after each time. Nevertheless, silicone mats are an excellent investment, and the fact that there won’t be any waste is a plus for the environment.
Note: if your silicone equipment is visibly broken or degraded, it may be time to replace it.
Consider using silicone trays to save some extra cash and help the earth.
We can also freeze-dry liquids using silicone trays instead of lining them with parchment paper. However, I love the convenience parchment paper gives me. It’s a question of preference.
Want to know more about using freeze-dryers? Read this article I wrote: How to Freeze Dry and Store Your Favorite Foods: Guide with Pictures.
What Other Materials Can I Use to Line Freeze-Dryer Trays?
Other options (besides parchment paper) for lining a freeze-dryer tray include silicone mats, freezer paper, foils, and dehydrating mats. Plastic and cling wraps don’t work as well in a freeze dryer as they can’t withstand the temperature extremes as well.
Silicone mats are a great alternative to parchment paper, especially if you want a material that we can use more than four times. What’s fantastic about these mats is that they can be dishwasher friendly (I prefer to handwash mine as it extends their lifetime usability). Anything parchment paper is used for the silicone mat can do.
Dehydrator sheets are on the pricey side, but some people settle for it if it’s the only other option left. Usually, these sheets are made up of the same materials as parchment or silicone mats. Dehydrator sheets can be reusable, perhaps even more so than parchment paper.
In a pinch, aluminum foil could possibly also work in a freeze-dryer. Lining a metal tray with aluminum foil doesn’t do much for preventing the sticking, though, so all it does is mean you don’t have to wash the metal trays. You’ll still have to scrape the freeze-dried food off the aluminum foil – and then it’ll have to be tossed.
So while the aluminum foil will work in a freeze dryer as a liner option, it’s not a great choice in my opinion.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
Using parchment paper in a freeze dryer is a great option if you’re okay with a disposable liner option. If you’d rather go sustainable, make sure you switch to silicone – and you can read why I think silicone is the best option in my article here.
Otherwise, would you like to know more about what kinds of food are good for freeze-drying and all of the how-tos? Read these great articles that I wrote:
- How to Safely Store Freeze-dried Foods in Mason Jars (vacuum sealer)
- Freeze-Dried Steak: The Complete Guide
- Are Freeze-Dried Foods Just as Nutritious? Let’s See!
- 79 Foods You Can Freeze Dry and 17 You Cannot: Complete Guide
They’re all great options, so enjoy these free resources I’ve created for you.
If you’re ready to shop for your own freeze-dryer (or grab some accessories, like a silicone mat), then here’s the link to go shop Harvest Right’s current sales and prices – don’t forget to check the accessory sales!
Learning from your own experience is essential, but learning from others is also intelligent. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- “Cutting Parchment Paper for Our Freeze Dryer Trays.” YouTube, uploaded by SchoolReports, 3 Feb. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fKKvZ8gDtQ.
- Ogletree, Kelsey. “Exactly When to Use Tin Foil, Wax Paper, and Parchment Paper.” Southern Living, 30 Mar. 2021, www.southernliving.com/food/kitchen-assistant/parchment-paper-wax-paper-or-aluminum-foil.
- Right, Harvest. “Tips for Successful Home Freeze Drying.” Harvest Rightâ¢ | Home Freeze Dryers | Freeze Dried Food Storage, 16 Nov. 2019, harvestright.com/blog/2014/tips-for-successful-home-freeze-drying/.