A Natural and Better Alternative for Storing Food Products

More and more people are becoming aware of the harmful effects to the environment of using plastic products or Styrofoam packs for food storage.

By: Julio P. Yap, Jr.

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To address this nagging issue, the Milea Bee Farms has started offering a safer and more eco-friendly alternative. According to Rico Omoyon of Milea Bee Farm, the NatuWrap beeswax cloth wrap is a natural alternative to plastic wrap/plastic cling film for storing food products. He says that it is made of natural, unprocessed beeswax and elemi, the tree resin harvested straight from theirbee farm in Batangas.

“Today, our food is commonly kept in plastic wraps, an unsustainable single-use petroleum product that leaches toxins into our food,” Omoyon explained. “It is washable, reusable, biodegradable, and compostable.”

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Samples of the large, medium, and small size pouch of NatuWrap.

A better alternative: He added that they use the elemi resin for its anti-microbial properties that maintain the freshness of food, while beeswax is water-repellent and has antibacterial properties that make it a great alternative to plastic wraps.

It was learned that Canarium luzonicum, commonly known as elemi, is a tree native to the Philippines. The oleoresin harvested from the tree is also known as elemi.

When applied to cotton, elemi renders the cotton “unbreathable” which can help to maintain the proper moisture content when storing food.

NatuWrap is a cloth coated with 100-percent pure beeswax from native bees, and as such, it is not suited to act as cover for hot foods or items, as it may cause melting.

Omoyon also said that a similar product is already available in the United States but it is quite thinner compared with NatuWrap, which can adapt to the contour of a container that seals it to
prevent oxidation.

Natural product: On the other hand, beeswax (cera alba) is a  natural wax produced by honeybees of the genus Apis. The hive workers collect and use it to form cells for honey-storage and larval and pupal protection within the beehive.

Beeswax has longstanding applications in human food and flavoring. It is used as a glazing agent, a sweetener, or as a light/heat source.

It is edible, in the sense of having similar negligible toxicity to plant waxes, and is approved for food use in most countries and the European Union.

Beeswax has many and varied uses. It is primarily used by the bees in making their honeycombs. Apart from this use by the bees, the use of beeswax has become widespread and varied. Purified and bleached beeswax is used in the production of food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

Multiple uses: Omoyon says that NatuWrap has many practical uses, like wrapping cheese, vegetables, bread, fruits, fresh herbs, and baked goods. It can also be used as cover for bowls and dishes, and can be folded to make snack bags or pouches.

NatuWrap comes in three convenient sizes. A small pouch contains three pieces of 7”x7” treated cloth. A medium pouch contains a piece of 11”x11” treated cloth, while a large pouch contains a piece of 15”x15” NatuWrap. Omoyon also stressed that NatuWrap is very easy to use. “The
warmth emitted by our hands makes it easy to fold and seal the wraps around food or
a bowl,” he says. Simple maintenance: To maintain the serviceability of NatuWrap, Omoyon
says that it should be washed after each use in cool water with a nmild detergent/soap, then air dry, fold and store inside a drawer or in a basket on the counter for future use.

“As they can’t be washed in hot water, don’t use them to cover raw meat or fish. Avoid sources of heat, such as hot water and microwaves,” Omoyon said. But after several months of continuous use, white lines may appear as the cloth is crumpled harshly. NatuWrap is effective and reusable for food storage until a significant portion of the beeswax has peeled off.

Simply follow the guide below to get the cloth back to its original state.

Line baking tray with oven paper than place the old NatuWrap wraps on the tray. Pre-heat your oven between 100 and 130 degrees Centigrade, then place the tray in the oven and wait one to two minutes until the wax on the cloth has melted and soaked the wrapper. Then remove the tray from oven, peel off the NatuWrap, and hang to dry.

When used with proper care, beeswax wraps can last several months up to a year.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s September 2017 issue.

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