A box filled with
homemade treats is sure to warm the heart of
that special someone who can't make it home
for the holidays. Too often, though, it's
only the thought that warms the heart
because the treats arrive in crumbs. To make
sure that the food you send arrives fresh
and safe, select, prepare, and package it
When selecting foods to send, choose baked
goods that are moist and firm or hard, but
not brittle. These travel well and should
arrive whole, not in crumbs. Bar cookies are
a good choice. Most are moist and keep well.
Fruit, date or fig bars, brownies and
coconut squares are examples. Wrap
individually in plastic to preserve each
bar's shape and moisture.
If you want to send
a cake, try fruitcake, pound cake, carrot
cake, spice cake, or a fruit-based cake such
as applesauce. Pound cake with a pour-on
icing is a good choice. The icing not only
adds moisture, but also forms a coating to
keep the cake moist. Layer cakes usually
don't arrive in good shape. You can,
however, split a pound cake in half and add
icing to it as you would a layer cake.
Fruit and ginger
breads travel well. Yeast breads, may not.
Hard candies, such as peanut brittle and
rock-candy, generally ship better than fudge
If you're not sure
how well a food will ship, test it. Place
the food in a container and shake it a few
times. If it holds its shape, it should mail
well. Place the food in a draft (made by a
fan or wind) to see if the food retains
moisture well. Once you've selected and
prepared your holiday food gift, a proper
package is a must. Most breads, cakes and
bar cookies can be baked in a foil or
light-weight aluminum pan, or coffee can
that also may be used for shipping.
If you are going to
ship the food in its baking container,
follow the directions in the recipe for
cooling and removing the food from the pan.
When thoroughly cooled, wrap in plastic wrap
or foil and return to the cleaned container.
Other good shipping
containers include: rigid plastic freezer or
refrigerator containers, metal cake boxes
and metal canisters. Two, 1-gallon plastic
milk jugs can be cut to hold food. Cut the
top half off each jug. Wash and air well to
remove any odors. Place the wrapped food
inside one half; fill any empty spaces with
crumpled tissue or unsalted air-popped
popcorn. Fit the second jug half over the
first like a lid and seal with freezer tape.
Place in box to send. It is critical to wrap
all foods in aluminum foil or plastic before
placing in shipping containers when drying
during shipping is a problem. Wrap small
items, like candy and cookies, individually.
Small plastic bags are ideal for this.
Select a strong
cardboard box to mail the food in. Place a
cushion of crumbled newspaper, paper towels,
styrofoam pellets or unsalted air-popped
popcorn in the box and then add the
containers of food. Finish packing with
paper. Securely close the box and label it
"perishable." Check with available mailing
services to determine which one best fits
your delivery needs.
by Pat Kendall,
Food Science and Human Nutrition Specialist
Colorado State University