by erin thursby
Giving someone a food gift, whether you made it yourself or bought it with love at Hickory Farms or a local chocolatier, is a holiday tradition. But there are some rules you should know about keeping food gifts fresh during the holiday season, particularly if you ship your homemade goodies off to Aunt Faye’s.
If you’re giving a perishable item two weeks before Christmas, make it clear that it’s a food item and have the recipient open it NOW. Don’t let your gift be the green cheesecake under the tree.
Don’t ship fruit. I know that there are companies that do this well, but I’ve heard too many horror stories about shipped fruit, even from well-established companies. It’s difficult to preserve, and if it gets left anywhere, it’s stinky.
Get a vacuum sealer. They normally run in the $100-150 range. It’s a good investment if you find yourself making cookies for everyone during the holidays. It can keep what you need fresh for shipping and you can make stuff ahead of time.
Shipping means extra stress on the food gift. Sending a layered ingredient jar? It might not look so layered after it goes through the postal system. Perishable items might be spending their time in the back of a hot postal truck, depending on where you send it. Look at your item and figure out about how long it will take to get there and what conditions it might be under.
Cookies need extra love and layers. To ensure that your cookies don’t arrive in a crumbled mess, put them in a tin with crinkled paper separating them, in much the same manner as layers of chocolate are separated in multi-tier boxes.
Use special frozen mail gel packs when shipping homemade candies or chocolates. You can get them at for about 39-50 cents, depending on the size.
Candies, if you send them, should be packed in the same manner as cookies. Make sure that the packing is snug so that they don’t have room to bounce around and brake.
Jerky, salted meat and smoked fish tend to keep well, if they’re vacuum sealed.
When shipping bottles of oils, you want to be extra vigilant. Make sure that the oil is sealed completely. Then wrap tightly with a layer of thin bubble wrap. If you can fit it in a ziplock bag-that’s fabulous because if an oil bottle does break it will be contained. Make sure there’s ample cushioning between each item, but do pack things tightly with plenty of padding to prevent breakage.
Go commercial. Hate to say it, but companies like Hickory Farms know what they’re doing when it comes to preservation of food.