Nature’s “tin foil”

In the last blog I wrote about the imaginative transport vehicles of yore. In this blog I will tell you about something which is even older, yet is still very much thriving nowadays: “Leaf foil”.

Before the inception of aluminum foil, many cultures around the world has discovered the awesomeness of nature leaf as cooking stove (wrap food with leaves and put it in the coals or on hot rocks around the fire pit). Some leaves are also used to steam food or wrap before boiling to keep the ingredients together. In the following are some prime examples:

Image result for banana leaf food
Traditional Indian meal served on Banana leaf
  • Banana/Plantain leaves have been used for centuries as a way to wrap food for cooking and storage. They are also used as a way to carry pouches of food and can be used as a plate, too.

Image result for Bamboo leaf food
Vietnamese Bamboo leaves-steamed sticky rice with assorted toppings 
  • Bamboo leaves are used to steam food in by many Asian cultures. They need to be soaked in water before use to avoid cracking.
Image result for Corn Husk leaf food
Ecuadorian fish baked in Corn Husk with rice & cactus salsa
  • Corn Husks – Fibrous and strong, corn husk are used by many Hispanic cultures for various dishes. Like plantain leaves, they can be used not only for cooking, they also make great wraps for food you want to store or bring with you. Depending on what you used it for, they can be reused, too. They also leave a nice flavor on the food.
Image result for cốm làng vòng
Vietnamese’s young rice wrapped in Lotus leaves
  • Lotus – Another Asian specialty, lotus leaves get very large and can infuse the food with a nice, earthy aroma. They also need to be soaked (usually bought dried at the store) before using.

Why do leaves work as a food wrap or natural ‘tin foil?”

First, because of their “flexible” water content! Most people who use leaves as a food wrap buy them dried in packages at the store and then soak them to bring back the strength of the fibers that hold everything together. Doing that will also keep the food moist and aromatic when wrapped.

Image result for leaves to wrap food in

Many leaf types such as Lotus, Bamboo or Banana leaves are also water proof and therefore can serves as perfect transport packet for foods.

Image result for leaves to wrap food in

Another reason is because the essential oils found in many types of leaves. These oils are usually rich with antioxidant and antimicrobial content, which actively fights back certain pathogenic bacteria and spoilage organisms and thus helps preserving foods, even in high humidity and temperature condition.

Hopefully in the not too-far-away future, such incredible properties of wrapping leaves can be harnessed and used on an industrial scale in packaging, preserving and storing foods?

Source:
https://www.asianscientist.com/2014/12/in-the-lab/leaves-natural-packaging-packed-antioxidants/

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