Both butcher paper and freezer paper are widely used in the food service industry for wrapping, preserving, and storing various types of food items. It’s essential to know their differences and the advantages each type of paper offers to make informed decisions when using them in your kitchen or business.
Butcher paper is a thick, sturdy paper typically made from kraft pulp, originally designed for wrapping fresh meats and fish. Over time, it has found its way into various other applications, such as crafting activities, table coverings, and sandwich wrapping. It is relatively inexpensive and comes in large rolls.
Freezer paper, on the other hand, is a heavy-weight butcher paper with a polyethylene (plastic) coating on one side.
This coating adds a vapor and moisture barrier to the paper, which prevents freezer burn and makes it ideal for storing meat, fish, and seafood in the freezer. Freezer paper is typically more expensive than butcher paper and comes in rolls similar to wax paper.
Differences Between Butcher Paper and Freezer Paper
Now that we have a basic understanding of what butcher paper and freezer paper are, let’s dive into the 8 key differences between the two types.
Butcher paper is generally thicker than freezer paper. This thickness gives butcher paper its sturdiness and durability, making it suitable for various applications where strength is required.
On the other hand, freezer paper is slightly thinner, allowing it to be more pliable and easier to wrap around food items for storage.
As mentioned earlier, butcher paper is known for its sturdiness, which makes it a popular choice for wrapping meats and fish at butcher shops or delis.
Its strength allows it to hold up well under pressure and resist tearing. Freezer paper, while not as sturdy as butcher paper, still offers sufficient strength for wrapping and storing food items in the freezer.
One of the main distinctions between butcher paper and freezer paper is their ability to handle moisture. The polyethylene coating on freezer paper creates an effective moisture barrier, preventing juices from leaking out of the wrapped food item and protecting it against freezer burn. Butcher paper lacks this coating and, therefore, does not provide the same level of moisture protection.
The polyethylene coating on freezer paper is what sets it apart from butcher paper. This coating is applied to one side of the paper, providing a vapor and moisture barrier that prevents freezer burn and keeps wrapped food items fresh longer. Butcher paper does not have this coating, making it less suitable for long-term freezing.
Freezer Burn Protection
Freezer burn occurs when frozen food is exposed to air, causing dehydration and oxidation. The polyethylene coating on freezer paper creates an effective barrier against freezer burn, keeping your stored food items fresh and flavorful. Butcher paper, without the protective coating, cannot offer the same level of protection against freezer burn.
While both papers are designed to hold up well to moisture, freezer paper has a waxy coating on one side that helps seal in juices and prevent leaking.
This feature makes freezer paper especially useful for wrapping meats and other juicy food items. Butcher paper does not have a waxy coating, so it may not be as effective at holding in juices and preventing leaks.
Due to the additional polyethylene coating, freezer paper is generally more expensive than butcher paper. While both types of paper come in rolls, the cost per square foot of freezer paper is typically higher.
If you plan to store a lot of meat in your freezer, it may be worth investing in freezer paper for its superior performance in protecting against freezer burn and preserving freshness.
Finally, availability can also be a factor in choosing between butcher paper and freezer paper. While both types of paper are widely used, freezer paper can sometimes be more difficult to find in stores. Butcher paper, being more versatile and inexpensive, is often more readily available.
Suitable Use for Each Type of Paper
Now that we’ve covered the differences between butcher paper and freezer paper, let’s discuss their suitable uses in food storage and preservation.
Butcher paper is ideal for wrapping fresh meats, fish, sandwiches, and deli items. Its thickness and sturdiness make it a popular choice for these applications.
Additionally, butcher paper can be used in crafting projects, as table coverings, and even for wrapping meat for short-term freezing, although its performance in this regard is not as effective as freezer paper.
It is also used in BBQ and smoking meat, as it allows more smoke to pass through than foil, leaving the meat with more flavor.
Butcher paper offers several benefits, including its ability to prevent over-steaming and protect meat from the full impact of the smoker. It is also inexpensive and versatile, making it suitable for various applications.
The main drawback of butcher paper is that it lacks the polyethylene coating found in freezer paper, which means it does not provide the same level of protection against moisture and freezer burn.
Freezer paper is specifically designed for freezing food items, particularly meats, fish, and seafood. The polyethylene coating provides an effective barrier against moisture and freezer burn, preserving the freshness and flavor of your stored food.
To use freezer paper, simply wrap your food item with the coated side facing inward, touching the food. Freezer paper can also be used for other applications, such as lining baskets for serving fried foods or even for stenciling and quilting projects, but its primary purpose is for freezing perishable items.
Freezer paper provides excellent protection against freezer burn and helps preserve the quality of frozen food items. Its polyethylene coating ensures that juices and flavors are retained during storage.
Freezer paper, while excellent for preserving frozen food items, is generally more expensive than butcher paper and may not be as versatile for other uses.
Popular Butcher Paper Brands
Reli. White Butcher Paper Roll
This food-grade Kraft paper is made in the USA and comes in a bulk value size of 18 inches x 350 feet (4200 inches). It is suitable for BBQ, sublimation paper, and freezing meat. The paper is engineered to withstand blood and moisture better than standard Kraft paper.
Pink Butcher Paper
Perfect for slow-smoking meat, pink butcher paper helps retain heat while preventing excess moisture buildup and allowing the meat to breathe. It is also food-grade and can be used for wrapping meat to make a tidy package.
Brown Butcher Paper
This craft paper is good for wrapping meat and other food items. It is also food-grade and can be used for various cooking purposes.
Popular Freezer Paper Brands
Reynolds Freezer Paper
A popular brand of freezer paper, Reynolds offers a polyethylene-coated paper that provides extra strength when exposed to moisture and protects against freezer burn. It is ideal for preserving the quality of frozen meats and other food items.
Weston Freezer Paper
Another well-known brand, Weston freezer paper features a plastic-coated side that helps lock in moisture and prevent freezer burn. It is perfect for storing meat, fish, and poultry in the freezer.
Can I substitute freezer paper for butcher paper?
Substituting freezer paper for butcher paper is possible, but it may not yield the same results due to differences in their coatings and breathability. Freezer paper is better suited for long-term storage, while butcher paper allows for better moisture control.
Can butcher paper be used as freezer wrap?
Butcher paper can be used as freezer wrap, but it might not provide the same level of protection against freezer burn as freezer paper, which has a plastic coating specifically designed for this purpose.
Can you use freezer paper to wrap brisket?
Using freezer paper to wrap brisket is not recommended, as the plastic coating on the paper can melt at high temperatures and potentially affect the flavor of the meat. Instead, use butcher paper or aluminum foil for wrapping brisket during cooking.
What is a substitute for butcher paper?
A suitable substitute for butcher paper is parchment paper, as it shares similar properties such as breathability and heat resistance. However, it may not be as durable or strong as butcher paper when wrapping larger cuts of meat.
In conclusion, while both butcher paper and freezer paper are popular tools for food storage and preservation, they serve different purposes and offer unique features.
For wrapping fresh meats and fish or short-term refrigeration, butcher paper is a suitable choice. However, for freezing perishable items and protecting against freezer burn, freezer paper is the better option.