Giving and receiving food packages in the mail for the holidays can be fun, festive and exciting. When mailing food gifts you must consider how well the product will travel and safety. Will the items remain in good condition during the trip and arrive in one piece? If sending perishable foods, will the items still be safe to eat when they reach the recipient?
In general foods that are good choices to mail for friends and family include nut breads, pound cakes, bar cookies, brownies, drop cookies, dried foods, spices and nuts, hard candies, caramels and fudge and dry mixes (beverage mixes, herb blends, party mixes). These food items usually can handle a bumpy trip and will not mold or become unsafe to eat in the 3-5 days travel time.
Foods that are moist like applesauce cakes, pumpkin bread, soft cakes and cookies that are safe at room temperature for several days may have trouble traveling more than 3-4 days. They may mold if the delivery time is 4 days or more and they are not opened and consumed immediately. If you plan to send these kinds of products refrigerate or freeze them, wrap them well and send express mail or priority mail that can be delivered within 2-3 days. Then contact the recipient and let them know a food gift is on its way, and to open the box and enjoy.
Poor food choices to send via mail include delicate cakes, pies, yeast breads and brittle cookies, such as thin sugar cookies, meringue drops, or thin wafers. These kinds of food will not arrive in one piece or may dry out. Foods with moist ﬁllings or frostings could become sticky; and oily items can weaken the container if they soak through the package. Also avoid any products in glass containers if possible.
Perishable foods like soft cheeses, meats and smoked ﬁsh are not recommended to send through the mail. If you intend to send perishable foods, they will need to be cooled or frozen and then sent in a cooler with ice or a gel pack or in a container with dry ice.