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Homemade Foods Best for Shipping?


nomnivorous
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Between two separate incidences, I have two good friends going through hard times. They live in North Carolina, I live in New York. I would really love to send them [separately] a quality care package of homemade foods. But I'm anxious as to what would survive in the shipping. I'm hoping to overnight everything, but I still worry about things holding together.

I'd love to send both sweet, fun, dessert items - cookies, brownies, or bars of some sort, and savory items. Maybe a loaf or two of bread, some homemade chutneys, etc. But are there any other ideas that would ship well? Things that are sturdy and wholesome, you know. I'd love to hear what the minds of eGullet can recommend because my mind is coming up blank.

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Biscotti, especially if well-wrapped, then bubble-wrapped. If they seem too plain, drizzle with or dip into chocolate. Plus, biscotti keep for quite a while.

Spiced or candied nuts are indestructible.

Jams or pickles--basically anything in jars, as long as you use a sturdy box and bubble wrap.

Fruitcake, spice cake, or pound cake, or cakes w/similar texture.

If you're incurring the expense of overnight shipping, then you could send some frozen, cooked foods kept cold with gel-packs. Cheap but sturdy styrofoam coolers work best, and try wrapping the food items in several thicknesses of newspaper (it is a surprisingly good insulator).

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I like sending sauces and soups that I've canned, as well as measuring out the dry ingredients for cookies or cakes, and putting them in jars. I know, a little Williams-Sonoma, but it really does make for a pretty gift. Also, if the recipe is one of your own that your friends are familiar with, the jar mixes are more personal.

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I think you should candy some nuts.. and then bring any leftovers to our Orphan Thankgiving dinner. LOL.

I think hard times calls for chocolate. How about truffles?

Grace

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

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My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

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There a whole other thread on shipping baked goods.

In addition, if you make your own charcuterie, you could send some dried sausages and the like. I'm sure they would be much appreciated.

Homemade trail mix would add a good source of protein.

Also, savoury crackers would be nice, too. Tapanade to accompany the crackers might be a nice addition, and would probably keep OK.

If you wanted to add some non-homemade stuff, Laughing Cow cheese doesn't need to be refrigerated.

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Hot chocolate mix, nicely spiced/seasoned. I start with good chocolate (my preferred is 70% Sharffenberger, but what matters most is a chocolate calibrated to their taste preferences re: how dark it is/cacao percentage), chop it coarsely, whirl it with an appropriate amount of nonfat dried milk in the food processor, and add some of my favorite chocolate seasonings like chili-cinnamon or long pepper & lime.

I start with about 1 ounce of chocolate per 8 oz of milk for non-choco-fiends, so 1 oz chocolate to 1/4 cup of powdered milk. Then they just scoop out some of the mix, stir in a bit of cold water first (to be sure the powdered milk doesn't clump--you're not putting in anti-caking stuff like you'd find in foil pouches of the stuff), and then hot water to taste.

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Homemade granola is lightweight and can travel well, packed in ziplock bags and into a shoebox or fed-ex pack. Best part about homemade is that the recipe can accommodate the no-coconut/gluten-free/"I don't like raisins"/no-nut requests :)

We sent 5 lbs of frozen cabbage rolls across the country once. Packed with freezer packs and wrapped in newsprint paper and bubble-wrap. Overnight, of course.

Karen Dar Woon

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Thank you to everyone for your suggestions!

I like sending sauces and soups that I've canned, as well as measuring out the dry ingredients for cookies or cakes, and putting them in jars. I know, a little Williams-Sonoma, but it really does make for a pretty gift. Also, if the recipe is one of your own that your friends are familiar with, the jar mixes are more personal.

One of the two people is a man who has never really cooked at all - his wife, my friend [who passed away in October] handled it all. So I don't expect him to actually cook for himself. I feel the need to send him food bc I'm worried he won't eat at all with the grief. The other friend has a cracked rib so doing much of anything is painful. So, anything I send needs to be pretty much ready to eat, except for something like cocoa mix.

Trail mix/granola, spiced nuts, bark and brittle, crackers [forgot about those! I love homemade crackers], brownies or bar cookies [as gleamed from the linked thread], possibly frozen, overnighted casseroles... All such great ideas. If anyone else has great ideas or tips on shipping, feel free to add. I think I'll send my packages out the week after Thanksgiving. :)

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That's such a nice thing to do for friends.

ANZAC biscuits are an Aussie/NZ classic and designed to withstand shipping. Try this one or this one, which are both very similar to the one my mother-in-law uses and which I can't find at the moment. I love them.

Old-fashioned molasses crinkles/softies benefit from a few days of ageing and are pretty sturdy as far as shipping goes.

The idea for savoury crackers is brilliant. My other thought was homemade dukkah with pita bread and a small bottle of olive oil. Homemade grissini are nice too and long-lasting. I've made these ones 6 or 7 times and they're very popular.

Also: not homemade, but aren't mandarins coming into season there now? A box of mandarins might be appreciated - they're easy to peel and eat and deliver vitamins and freshness. Or new-season apples.

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crackers [forgot about those! I love homemade crackers]

I've come up with a few nice cracker recipes--saltines, corny crackers. Honey corn muffins keep well room temp or frozen, easier for the recipient than a whole pan of cornbread. Oatmeal raisin cookies keep better than anything and travel pretty well, although if the weather is hot they sometimes congeal a bit into a large cookie mass (but are still delicious when crumbled apart!). They also seem more nourishing with the nuts and raisins and oats than just a basic butter cookie. Poppyseed shortbreads are also long keepers and very sturdy.

I've never tried to ship soup--it would just make me nervous--but I can imagine few things nicer than thawing out a bowl of split pea wonderfulness on a cold dreary fall day. Lots of great ideas here.

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