Are packing-material peanuts edible?

If anyone’s familiar with Iron Chef America, a recent challenger used packing material (looked like packing peanuts) as part of one of his dishes. I thought it was some sort of joke at first, but apparently, the stuff is edible, albeit not very tasty.

…Is this really true? Can I eat those packing peanuts I get with my packages? Throw them in my salads and stuff?

It’s plastic.

Can you fry it? Yes.

Will it do you any good? No unless you really need to unclog.

Lots of them are made from cornstarch now and will dissolve in water for disposal. I haven’t a clue if they’re edible though - as they may contain non-food-safe colouring agents, preservatives, etc.

Cooking with eco-foam

According to wikipedia they are edible. Make sure of which type you have though, don’t try to eat the plastic Styrofoam ones! If you aren’t sure what type you have, run one under water. The edible ones dissolve almost instantly.

I saw that episode, and have also nibbled on cellulose packing peanuts just out of curiosity.

Edible? Yes.
Meant to be eaten? No.

Just because a human can ingest something with no ill effect doesn’t mean a chef should serve it. I can swallow a stainess steel nut and pass it the next day - it’s biologically inert. It won’t harm me, but like the cellulose peanuts, I won’t get one whit of nutrition out of it, and it’s just not something that should be eaten.

Besides the cornstarch packing foam stuff (it’s fun to put it in water and watch it dissolve), there’s something else that looks like packing foam, but is edible. I first encountered it at a party some of the Chinese grad students were having – it’s some sort of seafood mousse that gets extruded as a foam and allowed to hardenn. the stuff I saw was pink and smelled and tasted heavily of seafood. It’s as if they were using crab-flavored packing peanuts as party munchies. I don’t know what it’s called, but I understand it’s been around for a while.

Styrofoam is not used to make packing materials.

Wasn’t those cool shrimp chips, was it? They look like solid colored shrinky-dinks or bits of plastic before cooking, and you throw them in hot oil and the POOF! up into these yummy, styrofoam looking, tasty treats. I see there’s a cheesy poofs version, as well.

Cornstarch packing puffs are also great for craft time with kids. If you lick one end, (or if you’re being hygenic and stuff, dip one end in a bowl of water quickly), it will get sticky enough to stick onto another puff. You can build things with them. In fact, I’ve seen colored ones sold for outrageous prices in learning toy stores.

Hey! You actually made me do some research and fight my own ignorance! No fair! :slight_smile:


Prawn crackers?

OK, next question:

Are the polystyrene peanuts toxic if ingested?

Obviously, they have no nutritional value and probably taste worse than cardboard…but, if you cut them up small and mix them with something tasty, will they harm you?

I’m asking from a weight-loss viewpoint; fill the tummy without adding calories. :slight_smile:

I actually knew that, but I’m just so used to saying Styrofoam instead of polystyrene I left it in. I order Coke at restaurants that serve only Pepsi and I call all of my Rubbermaid food storage containers “Tupperware”. It’s really something I need to work on.

The most common kind of degradable packing material is basically just cheez puffs without the flavoring. They’ll be exactly as nutritious and edible as the ones you get in the big orange bag in the snack aisle. You might want to take care how you obtain them, though, since they might not be all that clean.

Dissolve a bunch of them in water, and use them as paste for homemade pinatas!

Some of them are like cheesy-poofs, only not cheesy. You can tell they’re edible if you leave them in a box out in the carport for a while and they end up ensconced by a family of fat mice sleeping soundly among an impossibly large pile of indestructible yet insulating food.

Or you could put a peanut in your mouth. Whichever’s easier.