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Burning Question: What Keeps Food Fresher, Foil or Plastic?

To foil or to plastic wrap: that is the age-old question that's been around longer than I've known how to cook. So which keeps food fresher longer? The answer is that it all depends on what you're aiming to preserve.

Foil has a much more substantial thickness. It's preferable for aromatic, heavily scented foods like curries. It also prevents freezer burn, so use it for items that you're storing for a lengthy period of time in the freezer.

For fresh foods, opt for plastic; it's capable of sealing produce tighter than foil and is ideal for things like avocados and apples, which turn color when exposed. Aluminum reacts badly with acidic fruits and foods, whereas plastic wrap doesn't. Plastic wrap can even help to accelerate the marinating process.

It's important to keep in mind how you'll be reheating the food. It goes without saying that foil can't be microwaved, but heats well in the oven. While plastic wrap would melt under the heat of an oven, it seals in moisture in the microwave. If all else fails, there's always tupperware.


Join The Conversation
SwampCatNana SwampCatNana 6 years
I prefer vacuum sealing. I cannot live without my Food Saver!
PinkNC PinkNC 8 years
I always use plastic containers or ziplocs for the freezer. I only use foil when I cover something for a few minutes or maybe a couple of hours.
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 8 years
my fridge is filled with ziploc bags lol. I used foil for meats, to cover pans and dishes and stuff in the freezer. But majority of the stuff in my fridge goes inside a plastic zippy bag
AbbyHintz AbbyHintz 8 years
RE; leaching... It's really important people get their facts straight before spreading misinformation; that's all I'm saying. I get extremely irritated by people who heard something while taking bong hits with their friends, and then want to share it as a fact. It's more irresponsible than gossip.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
tupperware ladies!
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
Backstepping a bit, as much as I loves me my foil, I love my FoodSaver vac even more. Especially for freezing. Nothing like enjoying little bits of last summer's farmers markets in the dead of winter. If anyone attempted to run off with my beloved vac, some serious bloodletting would occur!
wunami wunami 8 years
@AbbyHintz: the leeching might be slower because of lower temp, but since you're freezing, it could end up being in contact over a long period of time. @shoneyjoe: Consumption means the food gets digested in a few's not so fresh after that. (LOL POOP!).
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 8 years
consumption. :)
AbbyHintz AbbyHintz 8 years
Mesayme, why do you think that plastic will leach "chemicals" if you put it in the freezer? Typically, leaching from plastic occurs when you raise the temperature, not lower.
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
I use plastic containers. But most of the time it doesn't matter because our fridge freezes everything, I have thrown out so much produce and it makes me super mad. I can't wait till we move and can buy a fridge that doesn't freeze everything.
Marci Marci 8 years
I use plastic wrap, foil and a FoodSaver. Just depends on what I'm doing.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
My understanding is that it depends on what food product you are storing. Food with high acidity like tomatoes, pineapple and the like should never be stored inside foil unless you simply are planning on eating the food directly off the refrigerator shelf. Saran wrap is fine for most foods but truly neither store method determines how long a food will last in storage. The food itself and method of cooking determines that. I learned that when I worked for a company that made a home vacuum packaging system (that shall remain nameless but is available is quality stores everywhere). The food scientists that did the research for the company found that unless you remove the air from the food your storing - that all food will spoil rapidly due to the air. Again the method of preparation and cooking really added in how fast food spoiled.
krae85 krae85 8 years
oh - and my mom covered my wedding cake in foil, but not tightly enough, I guess, and put it in the freezer for us to have when we got back from our honeymoon and it only tasted like freezer burn. I still saved it, just to look at, lol, but had to throw it out for hurricane evacuation :(
krae85 krae85 8 years
Foil for Freezer, Plastic for refrigerator. Sometimes foil and the plastic for the freezer, if I'm being paranoid, lol.
cybele cybele 8 years
I also prefer glass. I've got a great set of Pyrex containers that nest, have lids (plastic) and will go in the microwave or the oven. Much more civilized to eat out of, too.
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
I'm with Mesayme on this one. While I use plastics, I'm not a huge fan. But I likes me some foil! I'm a huge foil-packet-in-the-oven kind of cook. No pots or pans to clean, and when I'm done with the foil, I can rinse it off and throw it in the recycling bin.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
Neither. I like tempered glass. If you freeze in plastic- Please use the containers/bags sold for that purpose otherwise the chemicals can leach(sp?) into the food. I don't like foil because it gets hard and gets holes in it or sticks to stuff.
MandeeLei MandeeLei 8 years
I stick to tupperware for the most part. It's reusable! What can beat that??
NouraBee NouraBee 8 years
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
so much to think about here :) i almost always store things in tupperwear but my fiance always uses foil - we're just from different 'schools of thought' i suppose. i like the information that you're sharing here - as far as what food will benefit from foil and vice versa w/ plastic
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