Putting it on
BCE 4,000 - Ancient Egyptians
invented the first substance like paper as we know it. Papyrus was a woven mat
of reeds, pounded together into a hard, thin sheet. The word "paper"
actually comes from the word "papyrus". Later on in history, the
ancient West Semitic peoples and the ancient Greeks used a kind of parchment made from animal skins for the same
CE 105 - Paper as we know it
was invented by Cai Lun (Ts’ai Lun), a Chinese court official. It is believed that Cai
mixed mulberry bark, hemp, and rags with water, mashed it into a pulp, pressed
out the liquid and hung the thin mat to dry in the sun. Paper was born and this
humble mixture would set off one of mankind's greatest communication
Most people don’t automatically
connect paper with food; however, there are at least three very common paper
products that are used in cooking that deserve some attention: paper pan
liners, parchment paper, and waxed paper.
The first step in making paper is
called pulping. Paper pan liners begin with either pulp or a base paper called
waterleaf. Pulp consists of ground wood fiber and water. Waterleaf is the term
used to describe an untreated paper that has low
resistance to water. Those mills that use this paper buy it in large rolls and make it into pan liners. Those mills
using pulp usually buy it in large dried sheets that they mix with water and additives. Collectively these additives
are known as sizing agents.
At this stage, the first potential
issue occurs: the pulp or base paper. Due to śconomic or environmental concerns,
many mills purchase pulp or waterleaf made from recycled fibers which may
contain starches, creating a potential problem for use during Hagh HaMassot. Pulp or base paper made from virgin wood
fibers does not have this issue.
are used to improve the quality of the paper. Sizing comes in a variety of
forms, depending on the final use of the paper. They may be acids or bases to
control pH, dry strength adhesives like starches and gums, wet strength resins,
fillers, dyes, or drainage aids used to help drain the water out of the pulp.
Plain paper without sizing is very absorbent. Most newsprint, tissues, and other
absorbent products use this type of paper. Products such as paper plates must be
able to repel water or grease. How well they do this depends on what type of
sizing or additives were added to the paper at the mill.
Some sizing additives may not be tahor.
The next section of the paper machine is called the wet end or the fourdriner. At this stage the pulp
mixture is pumped into the headbox of the fourdriner and sprayed onto the moving
screen. The screen vibrates to help the water drain from the pulp
and the wood cellulose fibers begin to mesh into a paper web. This web is then
transferred to the couch (coosh), a belt covered with felt which
carries the web to the next stage in the process known as the dry end.
The web of fibers is carried around the presses which are rubber rollers that
squeeze out excess water. The web then moves on to the first dryer, which
consists of large metal cans or drums that are steam heated to 200-250 degrees
Fahrenheit. The cans are stacked vertically like bricks, and the felt belt, with
the increasingly paper-like fiber web, snakes through the maze of cans. Before
continuing along the line, the paper passes through large, heavy cast-iron
rollers that make the paper smooth and uniform in thickness. This is called the
calendar. The paper then moves to the size press where we encounter the most
critical kashrut issue.
As noted earlier, additives are mixed in during the pulping stage. They are also
applied at the size press, where the paper passes through rollers that shower on
a coating which allows the paper to resist grease, water, and heat.
Silicone and Quilon are the major materials used to coat the paper. Both offer
advantages. Silicone coated liners are reusable; however they cost approximately
three times more than Quilon liners. Therefore, most bakeries use the less
expensive Quilon and try to get as much use as possible from them.
Silicone, a coating derived from the mineral silica, does not present any
Quilon is actually a brand name for a coating product first developed by Dupont.
It has since become the common parlance in referring to coatings of this type
(similar to the use of the names Xerox and Kleenex for photocopying and tissues). A component used in Quilon-type coatings is
stearic acid, which is typically made from tallow. Therefore, any paper coated
with Quilon would clearly be tame’. Fortunately, vegetable based
stearic acids are available. Northern Products, manufactures a vegetarian alternative to Quilon called Neccoplex.
This product has become the industry standard in vegetarian “Quilon”;
coated pan liner papers made in North America.
Before the paper reaches the final stage, it goes through one
more drying press. Then it is ready to be wound onto large rolls and sent to the
The convertor is the link in the paper chain between the mill and the consumer.
The finished paper is wound onto “parent rolls”, which can be as much as 30
feet wide and weigh close to 25 tons. Even when the rolls are cut down, we are
talking about a lot of paper. That’s where the convertor comes in. The
converter cuts the paper to size, packages and sells it.
Grease-proof paper is
any paper that has been coated with materials that impart to it an ability to
resist grease. Many pan-liners are simply grease-proof. GVP, or genuine
vegetable parchment as it is called, is grease- proof with a kick. This paper
has the feel and look of animal parchment, hence the name parchment paper.
The process of “parchmentizing” paper begins with dipping base paper into a
bath of sulphuric acid. The acid begins to break down the cellulose - the main
component of plant fiber - and causes the gelling of the surface of the paper
fibers, which bond together and thus close the pores of the paper. The process
of dissolving the cellulose is stopped through a series of water baths and
rinses. The acid is completely removed and recovered for reuse. This process
produces a paper which is almost non-porous and therefore impervious to grease
and water. This durability makes parchment paper ideal for wrapping gefilte
fish, since it doesn’t fall apart when boiled in water. The
concerns addressed earlier regarding coatings apply to parchment paper as well.
This popular paper can present some problems. Most wax papers are
coated with paraffin, a petroleum based wax. However, most wax suppliers
manufacture both paraffin waxes and tallow based products. These are produced
often on the same equipment.
Therefore, when purchasing wax paper, it important to know whether or not the
paraffin used to coat the paper was processed with tallow.