Butcher paper is traditionally used for wrapping raw fresh meats and fish, along with sandwiches, deli meats and more. Also known as kraft paper, butcher paper is used in many crafting activities and as table coverings. Butcher paper can also be used to wrap meat for freezing, but freezer paper is better.
Freezer paper is a butcher paper with a polyethylene coating added to one side as a barrier to prevent juice leakage and freezer burn when meats, fish or seafood are stored in the freezer.
Freezer paper is more expensive than butcher paper and can be harder to find in stores, but if you regularly bulk buy or butcher your own cuts, then freezer paper is a handy addition to your kitchen drawer.
Exactly What is Butcher Paper and How Is It Used?
Butcher paper has three main functions as a raw food wrap. One is to protect raw meat, fish from any contaminants or flavor contamination. The second is to prevent leaks from the meat or fish and the third is to allow the meat or fish to breath. If air cannot get to the surface of wrapped meat, then sliming occurs.
Butcher paper can be used to wrap meat in for freezing but it will not hold all the juices from the meat in and there is much more risk of freezer burn developing compared with using freezer paper. You will also find you need to fully thaw meats before you can remove butcher paper, otherwise the paper can remain stuck to the meat.
Made from kraft pulp, butcher paper is commonly used to wrap fresh meats, poultry or fish in that will be consumed within the next day. Often cheap to buy, it is available in sheets or rolls in a range of widths and can be coated (known as sizing) or uncoated and as a rule, larger rolls are uncoated as it is these sizes that are often all purpose and used for other tasks such as table coverings or crafting. When you buy butcher paper for food, do make sure it is an FDA approved and food safe butcher paper.
Butcher paper is sold by basis weight, where the basis weight is what a ream (500 sheets) of paper would weigh when cut to the standard for that grade of paper. The higher the basis weight, the heavier the butcher paper will weigh. A typical butcher paper is 40 # basis weight and because the basis weight can be different to the weight of the item being sold, the # symbol is used instead of lbs.
You can write on the outer of butcher paper with pencil, pen, marker or even chalk and butcher paper can be used in the oven although aluminum foil or parchment is usually the better choice for higher temperature cooking.
What is White Butcher Paper?
The most common type of butcher paper available, white butcher paper is uncoated and usually FDA approved for use with foods. This type of butcher paper is used for wrapping sandwiches and deli foods with as well as by butchers. It is usually best used for dry sandwiches though as there is more risk of greasier or wetter foods soaking through.
White butcher paper can also be used on the smoker as allows meat to breathe and the smoke to reach the meat.
White butcher paper is also popular for crafting and as table coverings.
Just What is Pink Butcher Paper and Why Is It Good for Smoking With?
Pink butcher paper can vary in color from tan to dark pink and it is this color because it is made from unbleached paper. The color also works to help hide blood or juice stains from the raw meat.
Pink butcher paper is a strong paper which still allows meat to breathe. Pink butcher paper is no longer used just to store meat in, it is now popular for barbequing and smoking .
Made from a Southern Pine pulp, pink butcher paper is food grade and FDA approved. When the paper is made, it undergoes sizing, which makes the paper stronger when wet and less likely to tear when exposed to liquid or moisture.
When smoking larger or tougher cuts of meat, aluminum foil is often used to wrap the meat in, but pink butcher paper can be used instead to offer two advantages. The first is that it will allow some moisture to escape during cooking – which can stop the meat from turning mushy - and because it does have some porous properties it allows smoke to penetrate the meat.
Pink butcher paper does not affect cooking time as much as aluminum foil does. Meat wrapped in pink butcher paper will cook a little faster on the grill than unwrapped meat but not as fast as foil wrapped. Because the paper does not fit as snugly around meat, it allows the meat to breathe, giving you more chance of achieving the all-important bark on the meat.
What Are the Other Types of Butcher Paper?
Steak paper is often seen displaying cuts of beef or pork and it works by sealing in juices while preventing color loss from the meat. It is available in different colors such as black, white, green and peach (also known as peach butcher paper).
Peach butcher paper is a type of steak paper treated with an agent. This allows some air to reach fresh cuts while working to keep the cut fresh and bright red colored. Although this can be similar in color to pink butcher paper, peach butcher paper – or other colors of steak paper - is not as suitable for smoking with and you will not get the same output as you would from using pink butcher paper in the smoker.
Gardenia paper has a distinctive green hue and is often used for poultry and raw fish. This is a high performance paper that breathes to prevent the meat or fish from becoming soggy, but its proprietary coating works to prevent any juice or oil from leaking.
What is Freezer Paper?
Freezer paper in its simplest form is a heavy weight butcher paper which is then polyethylene (plastic) coated on one side. This coating adds a vapor and moisture barrier to the paper which acts to prevent freezer burn, making it perfect for wrapping meat, fish and seafoods to store in the freezer.
Because it has a barrier, freezer paper is also ideal for wrapping foods such as burgers and burritos with and can be used as a lining paper for baskets for serving French fries or other fried snacks. Freezer paper can also be used in stenciling and quilting projects.
Freezer paper is more difficult to find nowadays. Available as brown or white, it is also more expensive than butcher paper because of the poly coating. and when you buy it, there are choices of how long it will protect foods in the freezer for, such as 3 to 8 months or 9 to 15 months.
When you wrap meat in freezer paper, you need to wrap it so the coated side of the freezer paper touches the meat. You can then write the contents and date on the outer or the paper side of the freezer paper.
Freezer paper is not suitable for using in a smoker. Although like most commercial butcher paper it is food safe and FDA approved, once the temperature climbs above 180°F, freezer paper will begin to break down and burn.
What is The Difference Between Freezer Paper and Wax Paper?
Although freezer paper and wax paper can look similar, freezer paper has a poly coating on one side, while wax paper is wax coated on both sides. Wax paper is best used for lining cookie sheets when freezing foods before wrapping or even for lining the countertop with when making messy foods.
What Is the Difference Between Freezer Paper and Freezer Bags?
Freezer paper is better for freezing raw meats in as it prevents juice from leaking and air reaching the meat. Freezer bags are usually plastic and are a better option for freezing other types of foods rather than raw meats, fish or seafood.
To Sum Up
As we have seen in this post, butcher paper or kraft paper is common and used by butchers, in delis and even in crafting. There are different types of butcher paper available which can be coated or uncoated and you can use white or pink butcher paper for smoking. Although you can store meat in butcher paper in the freezer, it will not prevent freezer burn or stop juices from leaking.
Not all butcher paper may be food safe though, so always check before you buy as some butcher paper will be packaged for crafting and in which case does not need to be FDA approved.
Although freezer paper can be difficult to find, if you do store a lot of meat in your freezer, it is worth using freezer paper. Not only is it food safe and FDA approved, but its poly coating keeps the meat juices in and prevents freezer burn.So, in conclusion, if you want to wrap fresh meat or other fresh foods for a short time in the refrigerator, butcher paper is fine, but if you want to freeze fresh meat, fish or seafood, then freezer paper is always the better option.