Parchment paper is made of silicone or by running sheets of paper pulp through sulfuric acid till it gelatinizes. It has value for baking purposes because of its nonstick properties and heat resistance and for wrapping food because food does not absorb any toxins from the paper. Wax paper is good for wrapping food because it has nonstick properties and food does not absorb toxins. Wax paper cannot substitute for parchment as a nonstick lining for baking dishes because it does not have the heat-resistant properties of parchment paper.
Leaves and Husks
Natural and unprocessed, leaves make an excellent substitute for parchment or wax paper for baking and for wrapping. You can use leaves of different plants to line baking dishes and to wrap food. Leaves that can serve as substitutes for parchment and wax paper include banana leaves, grape leaves, fig leaves, corn leaves, lotus leaves and bamboo leaves. Corn husks also make good substitutes for parchment paper for wrapping purposes.
Aluminum foil forms a good substitute for parchment or wax paper both for baking and for wrapping. However, acidic food may react with the metal in aluminum foil and get a metallic smell. Covering the entire baking sheet with aluminum foil will prevent air circulation and spoil the taste of baked food.
Though not a solution for nonstick baking, plastic wrap provides a good nonstick and non-absorbent substitute for parchment or wax paper for the purpose of wrapping food. Food does not absorb the polythene contents of plastic wrap.
Dough or Rice Paper
Asian cooking uses thin rolls of dough or rice paper as wraps to steam or fry meat and vegetables. These wraps also make excellent substitutes for parchment or wax paper both as nonstick baking sheet liners and as food wrappers. Dough or rice paper makes edible baking liners for cupcakes or muffins.
The Japanese use kampyo or dried gourd strips to wrap food. Kampyo requires rehydration or soaking in water before use. Kampyo presoaked in soy broth also serves the purpose of wrapping sushi and other food.
Paul Parsons is a freelance writer, living in Houston, Texas. Parsons writes from an array of different topics, but specializes in medical, personal finance, computers and business.