Butcher paper is very common, and many of us have used or handled a piece of meat wrapped in this kind of paper. Many people have heard or seen butcher paper but have no idea what it is or what it has to offer.
What is it, why is it used to wrap meat, what are the different types, and what else can butcher paper be used for? This article will answer these and many other questions.
First, let’s establish what butcher paper is.
What is Butcher Paper
Butcher paper is a type of paper heavily used in the food industry for wrapping, storing, and even cooking meats. Made out of wood pulp, this paper is strong, heat resistant, and moisture resistant, which is why it is often used to wrap and smoke meats. This paper still allows meat to “breathe” while stored or being cooked.
It is very common for butchers and food retailers to use this paper to wrap and label cuts of meat and package food items for customers to take home.
Chefs also use these types of paper for baking, wrapping, and storing food. There are different types of butcher paper, but more on that later. The common attribute among all the different colors and types of butcher is how they are made using wood pulp extracted using the kraft process.
The pulp is wood fiber extracted from trees but also recycled paper, which adds a sustainability factor to butcher paper.
Butcher paper starts like many other paper products, from wood pulp, but it’s available in different variations and colors, each with their own specific attributes and purposes. The classic butcher paper is recognizable for its brown, pink, or reddish color.
The more common red or pink butcher paper gets its color naturally during processing by leaving more wood cellulose intact.  This also adds strength to the paper.
Different types of butcher paper
All these different types of butcher paper share the same quality, which is why butcher paper is so well liked for smoking meat in the BBQ world. Even though these different types of papers serve different needs and have different moisture absorption qualities, they all let food and meats breathe while being cooked or stored.
So when you wrap a brisket using butcher paper, smoke will penetrate the paper and add flavor to the meat while it sits for hours in the smoker.
Similarly, after purchasing meat from a butcher, it can breathe while wrapped in paper, preventing it from becoming soggy before you get home.
White butcher paper
White butcher paper is another popular variation of butcher paper, and I use the word variation carefully because I don’t want you to think that this is something special but simply paper manufactured with wood pulp that has been treated to remove the lignin and other plant cells, removing its natural brown color. In simple terms, the paper has been bleached.
White butcher paper is often preferred because the color white provides a good background to write on and display food better, and in some cases, it hides grease stains better. However, because FDA-approved white paper is excellent for wrapping items other than meat, such as perisbales or sandwiches, you’ll often see retailers use white butcher paper to wrap sea food.
Gardenia butcher paper
Gardenia Butcher Paper is another popular type of butcher paper that is known for its excellent liquid and moisture resistance. This is good paper for packaging meat cuts like picanha and other cuts that can exert lots of fluid.
Parchment butcher paper
Parchment paper is another type of paper used by butchers and in the BBQ and grilling world. This type of paper is coated with a thin layer of silicone, creating a very good non-stick surface. This paper can be used as a liner for baking sheets or on any cooking surface to prevent food from sticking while cooking or baking.
Butcher paper vs parchment paper
Many people confuse butcher paper and parchment paper and get the two mixed up. There are differences between these two types of paper that primarily lie in the paper material itself. Butcher paper is made from wood pulp, and the paper is absorbent, heat-resistant, and can be written on.
On the other hand, parchment paper is coated with silicon, making it very “slippery,” non-stick, but also difficult to write on and not absorbent as well as butcher paper.
Butcher paper alternatives
Butcher paper is not as widely available in regular stores as you might think. To find this type of paper, it is often necessary to visit a butcher or a specialty store. There are some alternatives, including aluminum foil, parchment paper, and wax paper.
Why is butcher paper used and good for smoking meat
There are two main reasons. First, butcher paper can protect the meat from direct heat, avoiding dry spots or even burning the meat. Second, when you wrap a large cut of meat like brisket, the paper helps hold its juices and tenderize the meat.
Although butcher paper can seal in the juices of the meat, it still allows some smoke to penetrate into the meat, allowing smoke flavor to infuse the meat even while wrapped.
Butcher paper is more than just a much-needed toll for butchers and meat retailers. It is something you can cook and smoke at home to make amazing brisket or store foods. By now, you know what it is, the different types, and what it can be used for.