Plastic wrap is essential for storing, freezing, and keeping food fresh, but using it can drive you crazy: The roll rips and wraps around itself; the plastic clings to itself more than the dish or won't stick at all; the box falls apart, letting the roll drop out; the sharp metal teeth slice more than the plastic—or merely shred it; and most important, it doesn’t keep food from spoiling quickly. Has any brand overcome these failings?
First, we measured strength by pulling foot-long pieces of wrap in a series of sharp, short tugs until they tore or lost their shape. Two brands shone because they were almost impossible to destroy.
To test the ability of the wraps to cling, we placed 8 ounces of grapes in plastic, metal, and glass bowls and covered each bowl with one sheet of wrap. With a few shakes of an inverted bowl, we instantly could see which wraps had the most cling—and which let the grapes fly out. All brands performed well on glass bowls. On metal, some brands failed in as few as three shakes, spilling grapes all over the counter. Others held their grip through all 10 shakes. Plastic bowls presented the biggest challenge, and only a few brands could hold on for even a few shakes.
The most important test measured the ability of the wraps to keep foods fresh. We were looking for an impermeable wrap that prevented air and moisture from passing through. Since it was difficult to quantify “freshness” with a real-world food test (Check for mold? Off smells?), we took a scientific approach. We purchased a bottle of Indicating Drierite (calcium sulfate), an absorbent used in packaging, whose small purple-blue pebbles turn bright pink when exposed to moisture. We put 1 tablespoon of Drierite in small glass bowls covered tightly with a sheet of each wrap. After two days, the Drierite in bowls covered with three of the plastic wraps had turned bright pink, indicating that the wrap had allowed moisture in, which means food would spoil faster. The Drierite under the other wraps lasted more than three weeks without a color change, indicating that these wraps were impermeable. This shocked us: A leading contender had failed. In disbelief, we repeated the test, with the same results. What had happened?
As it turns out, plastic wrap can be made from two distinctly different substances. The earliest plastic wrap was made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a highly clinging material. But plasticizers and chlorine in these wraps held a risk of food contamination, so manufacturers came up with safer substitutes. Some stuck with a new food-safe version of PVC; others switched to low-density polyethylene (LDPE). The main difference? PVC clings but is not impermeable; LDPE is impermeable but has far less cling. Our research revealed that three wraps are all made of clingy PVC, and the rest of the lineup is less-clingy LDPE. Another style of LPDE wrap is made with an edible dimpled adhesive. We don’t like this style. While it works well initially, once the seal is broken (say, if you were taking a helping of potato salad out of a bowl), this wrap won’t reattach.
Our testers much preferred packaging with metal teeth on the top edge, inside the cover, to those with teeth on the exposed bottom of the box, which were more apt to snag testers’ clothing and skin. We liked boxes with a sticky pad on the front to hold the sheet, keeping it from rolling back on itself and getting tangled and crumpled. We’ve yet to find perfect packaging.
Clingy PVC wraps are preferable if you are transporting food or are worried about spills and leaks, but to keep foods fresh longer, select plastic wraps made from LDPE and reach for a box of our all-around winner.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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