what is the best printer for using frosting sheets. I want a clear picture.
We have three printers that we use for edible printing, an Epson and two Canons. The make and model of printer is not important to the printed result.
To print good images you MUST start with GREAT images (size and resolution). We usually only print IA, EPS, TIF, GIF and PNG (only those are created in-house). The only time we use JPGs are when they are client-supplied and even then we always have to take time to edit them to be good printed images. To test whether an image might print clearly, print it on regular paper (with your edible ink printer). However it looks on regular paper, it will never look better on edible sheets (different, but not better).
Using a good "ink" is important as is running regular cleaning maintenance. Keep your ink cartridges about 1/2 - 3/4 full at all times for best printing results. Do not completely fill the cartridges when refilling the ink as this will often result in smudging until the ink level is down a bit. If you haven't used the printer in a couple days then it is best to clean the print heads and print a test page before printing a topper. This will find ink issues and save you from throwing away edible sheets. We use our printers every day but others have suggested that if printers are not used regularly (like every couple weeks) that you should remove and cap the ink cartridges until needed.
The above information is true whether printing on frosting sheets, starch sheets or rice paper. But since you asked specifically about frosting sheets, the following is what you'll need to know.
Although frosting sheets look white they are actually very yellow. You will need to experiment with your printer to find the best settings to match the printed image with the original. Of course you are dealing with a computer monitor as well that will often vary in color from a printed image. Be prepared to go through at least 10-12 frosting sheets to find the settings that work (hopefully it won't take that many but that is a realistic amount if you're a stickler to a quality result). There is no one-setting-works-for-all-images solution either but I offer three suggestions:
- Start with changing your print settings as far away from yellow/green as possible.
- Do not increase the intensity or the contrast settings on the printer EVER as this usually results in smudging.
- Start with your paper setting on Photo Printing / Matte Photo Paper / High Quality. This setting doesn't work well for some images (particularly photographs) so you will also want to experiment with Standard Printing / Plain Paper / High Quality.
Don't forget to confirm your settings each and every time you print (yes, every time) because throwing away frosting sheets can be avoided.
I gave you far more information than you asked for but know from experience that figuring it on your own is not only frustrating but expensive. If I were to recommend a printer for light/normal use, I'd say shop Canon MG series - and don't rule out the older models as supplies are still readily available. We replaced one of ours recently and it cost us less than $75 which included two sets of empty cartridges. We know from experience that these printers are good for about 3000 images with good maintenance (remember that you are feeding a food product through it so stickiness happens!).
Thank you for your fast response and all the helpful information
My party Helpers, Trish,
I am now wondering, do you like working best with rice, wafer or frosting sheets? Are they all used in the same way? I am
placing a printed picture over fondant. Do either of them work well over bc icing? or should they all be placed on fondant?
Also, I have frosting sheets that say sell by June 2015, however, they have never been opened. Are they still good to use?
Rice paper and wafer paper are the same thing. These are bought in packages of 100 sheets (or less if you buy from a re-packager). It is extremely lightweight and can be easily shaped as it is the most like real paper. It is used for 3D and decorations such as feathers, butterflies and flowers. Rice paper has the longest shelf life of all the edible paper and does not readily absorb flavors from the environment or from age (well within a couple years).
Next is starch paper. Like frosting sheets, starch sheets are on a backing paper and need to be peeled off immediately prior to use. It is very thin and is delicate in that it can tear readily if the applicator does not have a gentle touch. These sheets, in my opinion, are the easiest to print on as they do not require adjusting print settings, remain firmly on the backing paper during printing and result in the truest color. This is the one we use for photographs. The manufacturer gives it a shelf life of five years but the smell and flavor becomes unpleasant by that time. Starch paper readily absorbs moisture, even from room humidity, so it is truly keep it sealed until ready to print, then reseal it as airtight as possible and keep it sealed again until ready to apply.
Frosting sheets are the thickest and easily handled without fear of damage (always keep at room temperature or they'll become brittle). They are a pain to print because they require a LOT of print setting adjustments and tend to stretch during printing (which causes bubbling and the sheet to come off the backing paper so they really need to be watched during printing). The manufacture gives frosting sheets a shelf life of one year. They smell very much like buttercream when "fresh" and should be okay to use until that smell changes or fades. I suggest opening your package and smelling them. If your nose isn't picking up a smell then taste one since that's the flavor you'll be adding to your cake. Of course following the adage "when in doubt, throw it out" will never steer you wrong.
Both the starch paper & frosting sheets will be fine to use over fondant. We use only starch paper when applying directly to fondant because it's thinner and better graphics (truer color). I believe that starch paper is far better and they are my preferred edible paper however because of how easy they are to handle and apply, most of the toppers we sell are on frosting sheets.
Both sheets are designed to be used on icings and fondant. I recommend that if you do not regularly apply printed images to icings that you use frosting sheets. I would recommend starch paper over fondant though.