IT would be absurd to claim that cooking in paper bags is to take the place of cooking by all other methods; but it appeals to many housewives as an economical, labor-saving method of preparing a meal. The sealed bag prevents loss of rich juices and flavors; prevents loss of weight in meats; and saves the washing of pots and pans - always a disagreeable task. Further, the paper bag, like the casserole and the fireless cooker, offers opportunity for economy in meats; for cuts of meat and poultry too tough for use by the old method are made tender by cooking in the paper bag.

Success depends in large measure upon the bags, and it is safe to use only those manufactured for the purpose. These are odorless and entirely free from impurities. A bag containing a break or hole should never be used and in cooking very juicy dishes it is sometimes wise to set the rack holding the bag on a shallow dish so that in case the bag should break there may be no loss of juices. Always place the seam side up.

Select a bag that will conveniently hold the food - one that is neither too large nor too small. Grease it thoroughly on the inside, using butter or drippings. The grease makes the paper still more air-proof and is essential to the success of the process. Apply the grease with a brush, taking care to select one from which the bristles will not be likely to fall; or, better, put several tablespoons of melted grease in the bag; lay it flat on the table and press from the bottom upward until both sides are thoroughly greased.

When the food is prepared, put it in the bag carefully; fold the open end several times and fasten with paper clips or pins. Fold the corners at the other end of the bag also to insure against leakage. Do not crease with the finger nail or the paper may break in the oven. Some cooks moisten the bags to make them more pliable.

Be sure that the oven is well heated when the food is put in. A gas oven should be lighted for at least ten minutes before using and the average oven heat should not be less than 200° F. On the other hand the oven should not be too hot, or the bags will char quickly and it will be almost impossible to remove the food.

After the first fifteen minutes the heat should be slightly reduced; for long, slow cooking will secure a better result. Let the bag rest on a rack and not on the floor of the oven, as the air should circulate freely around it. If the oven shelves are solid, the bag should be elevated on a wire rack or broiler laid across a pan. The rack is a wise provision anyway, as it makes the removal of the bag easier.

If the temperature is right the food will brown in the closed bag; but many cooks advise puncturing the bag when the product is nearly done in order to make the brown crust a certainty.

If the bag should accidentally break before the food is done, place it in another bag or fold over the broken portion and fasten with paper clips. There is really small danger of breakage if the proper precautions are taken.

To remove the food, open the door of the oven - very carefully if it is a gas oven, as a heavy jar will sometimes set fire to the paper; hold a flat board or platter in the left hand and slip the bag gently upon this. Open the bag and remove the contents.