Good Eats

Parchment paper, also known as baking parchment paper, is a cellulose-based paper that is used as a disposable non-stick surface intended for use in baking.

A common use is to eliminate the need to grease sheet pans and the like, allowing very rapid turn-around of batches of baked goods. Parchment paper is also used to cook en papillote, a technique where food is steamed or cooked within closed pouches made from parchment paper. Parchment paper can be used in most applications that call for wax paper as a non-stick surface. The reverse is not true, as wax paper will cause smoke in the oven.

Modern parchment paper is made by running sheets of paper pulp through a bath of sulfuric acid or sometimes zinc chloride. This process partially dissolves or gelatinizes the paper, which is reversed by washing the chemicals off followed by drying. This forms a sulfurized, cross-linked material with high density, stability and heat resistance and low surface tension which imparts good non-stick or release properties. This process gives the paper an appearance similar to traditional parchment.

Because paper treated in this manner has a tendency to become brittle and to wrinkle upon drying, it is frequently treated with a plasticizing agent, usually silicone, glycerine or glucose.