Author Topic: Reducing paper towel usage?  (Read 6301 times)

Zikoris

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Reducing paper towel usage?
« on: January 18, 2014, 12:26:38 PM »
We've always been paper towel fiends, but have managed to reduce our usage somewhat by not using them for cleaning anymore. I'd really like to eliminate or nearly eliminate my use of these things, but have three sticking points:

1. Soaking up oil off of things like fried potatoes and skillet bread. I'm leery to use anything that would go in the washing machine since I'd be concerned about a towel soaked in oil starting a fire, or at least getting oil on other stuff(we wash everything together). Any good alternatives here?

2. Absorbing excess moisture in bread and baked goods. I make my own bread and find it gets a bit soggy if I put it in the fridge without putting a paper towel between the bread and the pan. I also put paper towels in storage containers with things like cookies, cake, scones, whatever. Anything that would work for this?

3. Greasing pans. Baking pans and cast iron frying pans. I have no idea what else could work here, but am very open to suggestions.

Any ideas?

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2014, 12:38:43 PM »
1. Newsprint.

2. Take the bread out of the pan, and allow it to cool on a wire rack before refrigerating.

3. I grease baking pans with butter/lard/margarine and my fingers.

SavingMon(k)ey

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2014, 12:48:58 PM »
1. No idea. I don't fry foods because it's too oily and unhealthy. Try baking your taters just greasing the cookie sheet.
2. Yes, take bread out of pan and allow to cool. Google bread storage for better practices. Bake bread more often so you can keep it out of fridge in cloth bag for a couple of days.
3. I use a painting brush (no, i'm not concerned that it's not food grade, but if you are use a little basting brush for kitchen use), designated for this purpose only. I handwash with soap and water after use. Works great. I have also used a finger before.

Zikoris

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2014, 12:55:31 PM »
Newsprint - interesting idea! Is it safe though? Won't the lead/ink get into your food?

Russ

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2014, 01:05:43 PM »
1. Not sure how paper towels soaked in oil are any less likely to catch fire than regular towels soaked in oil. Oily things might stain clothes outside of the wash, but they won't if they're only together when in the wash. Any oil that comes out is then going out with the soapy water instead of getting reabsorbed. If you're super worried about the fire hazard or staining, most of the oil can be washed out in the sink w/ dish soap. wring out and dry and you'll have a reasonably fresh towel in the morning.

2. I usually cool on a rack, but you can use regular towels for this just fine

3. use your hands, or you can use regular towels for this too if you really want to

Absolutely anything you can do with paper towels can be done with regular towels; just stop buying them and you'll figure it out. They weren't even invented until 1931, and people obviously got along just fine before then doing the same things you are.

FWIW I like flour sack style towels if you can find them. Basically just very big sheets of plain thin cotton. They're huge, absorbent, easy to clean, and don't shed like some terry-style towels. Don't use fabric softener on any kind of towel ever or they lose absorbency.

153

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2014, 01:55:48 PM »
 #3:  when I unwrap butter (usually a whole stick for baking) I fold the wrapper back up and stick it in a baggie in the freezer. When I need to grease a pan, I pull one of those out, unfold, and use that to grease the pan. Works exceptionally well when the butter has softened on the counter, even for a little bit.


SavingMon(k)ey

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2014, 03:11:58 PM »
Newsprint - interesting idea! Is it safe though? Won't the lead/ink get into your food?
Newspaper ink does not contain lead. Much of it is soy-based ink, these days.

CrochetStache

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2014, 03:20:32 PM »
When I need to butter a pan I just toss it into the preheating oven so when I stab a chunk of butter and run it over the surface it coats it easily and evenly. No paper necessary.

I second the newspaper idea, fish and chips in England are often served in newsprint.

MicroRN

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2014, 03:31:31 PM »
You can set fried food on brown paper grocery bags, if you get them.  When I forget my reusables, I get paper bags and use them for our curbside compost, coloring paper, and fried foods.  The other option for fried foods is a cookie rack set over a cookie sheet.  Not so good for small items like diced potatoes, but works great for larger ones.  That's usually how I drain bacon.   

Indio

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2014, 04:32:15 PM »
I use spray on grapeseed oil when greasing a pan. I have a misto sprayer and its great for greasing a pan without using a high choleterol product.
Down south they use newspaper when serving up fried food at the deep fry catfish places.

beanlady

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2014, 04:48:04 PM »
I use empty butter wrappers or a silicone basting brush for greasing pans. I don't cook in ways that involve sopping up grease, but when I've had greasy towels before I toss them on the floor of the shower... they get well rinsed and at least somewhat soaped that way so they can go in the wash afterward.

I haven't bought a roll of paper towels since the last time I house trained a puppy! Good luck.

Zikoris

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2014, 05:22:02 PM »
Great ideas all around - I never even thought of using a sprayer for oil to grease things! I'll try using my hands as well - I don't know why I never thought of that. The Mustachian forums are amazing - people come up with some great ideas.

And I will definitely start using newspaper or paper bags for sopping up oil. I might try to check what kind of ink our local papers use. I'd just assumed it was something nasty, but if it's soy based, no problem.

I'm making bread right now, so I'll try cooling it on my rack completely and not using paper towels in the pan

My boyfriend mentioned one thing I forgot that he uses paper towels for - cleaning up cat puke and very rarely litterbox accidents. I really wouldn't want to use our regular towels for that for sanitary reasons - anything else that would work? It's not very often, so not a huge deal, but always good to have an alternative

Russ

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2014, 05:40:58 PM »
My boyfriend mentioned one thing I forgot that he uses paper towels for - cleaning up cat puke and very rarely litterbox accidents. I really wouldn't want to use our regular towels for that for sanitary reasons - anything else that would work? It's not very often, so not a huge deal, but always good to have an alternative

the aforementioned flour sack towels are white, so if you get a few of them you can have an EMERGENCY UNSANITARY THINGS set that you bleach the fuck out of after use. Really they'll be fine for regular anywhere use after washing w/ bleach, but if you sleep better with them separated that works too.

or get dogs

dragoncar

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2014, 05:47:57 PM »
Good suggestions here, but I really don't have a problem using paper towels for really disgusting things.  You can get the commercial-grade (i.e. not very soft) type very cheap or just steal it from bathrooms :-P

Empire Business

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2014, 05:58:14 PM »
My boyfriend mentioned one thing I forgot that he uses paper towels for - cleaning up cat puke and very rarely litterbox accidents. I really wouldn't want to use our regular towels for that for sanitary reasons - anything else that would work? It's not very often, so not a huge deal, but always good to have an alternative

Yeah, that's exactly what I keep them around for.  They last a long time if you're disciplined enough to grab microfiber/rags/etc. for everything else.

elderflower100

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2014, 10:14:12 PM »
I cut up old cotton t - shirts, pants and towels to use, wash and reuse. The Salvation Army (and probably other thrift stores) sells big bags of cotton rags for five dollars or so.

greaper007

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2014, 09:11:29 AM »
I have two kids out of diapers now, and one of the best things about that is that I can use all their old pre-folds for this stuff.   My mom still uses my cloth diapers to clean with (33 years old), so that shows you how tough these things are.

I occasionally use one paper towel to reseason my cast iron after usage.    Same thing with draining bacon or fried stuff.    Though I think you may find that coated cooling rack for baking works even better for draining things like fried chicken.   Just stick it over a baking sheet and you have grease free food that still stays crispy.   You shouldn't have an issue with a fire in the washing machine, that would probably be the dryer, and you should be line drying anyways :).   At any rate, I bought a pack of paper towels 2 years ago at costco, and I still have most of them.

Instead of keeping your bread in plastic, sew up some bread bags out of cheap cotton.   I'm all thumbs on the sewing machine and mine still look great.   Easy project that should only cost you 5-10 dollars in fabric.

Also, don't forget about paper bags for draining things.   Forgo the $.05 savings every once in a while and get a paper bag.   I use them to start the charcoal in my charcoal chimney, drain certain fried foods like homemade chips.    And the smaller lunch sized ones are perfect for popping your own popcorn in the microwave.   That's a huge savings right there, and you get to forgo all the bpa crap coated on the inside of microwave popcorn bags.

oldtoyota

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Re: Reducing paper towel usage?
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2014, 06:37:54 PM »
For #3, I often use the butter wrapper itself to spread the butter. This works best if I don't need to re-use the wrapper to hold any leftover butter.