FAQ #1: Snail Mail Friendly Recipes

Posted on 06/05/2012 by rhiannon_666
As per this mod post:

A while back I asked members if as a collective we wanted to re-open kitchenfaq. The vote was a no, but not by much, and it seemed that members were keen for a way to deal with repetitive question asking. We currently have a baking questions thread, but it's not really being used. So I'm going to draft a few FAQ posts to be saved in memories to be used as resources: these will feature answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, but you guys are encouraged to expand upon the information in comments, and to return there with any unanswered questions (ala the baking questions thread). Particularly insightful comments will be edited into the original post.

These will act like topic specific versions of the Baking Questions Thread. So make sure to track the entries so you'll be notified of new comments and hence be able to answer question and in turn get your own questions answered. The better you guys utilise these threads, the less often you will see repetitive and "annoying" posts. 

I'll attempt to get these up weekly, though I won't make a promise I can't keep as my time commitment will fluctuate as my Zoological research commitments do. As ever, please feel free to make suggestions for topics that you would find particularly helpful, and lend as much helpful advice in the comments as you feel inclined to.

Our first cab off the rank is one of the most common questions we get: 

What can I bake that will survive the postage?

There are two questions you want to ask yourself before you begin looking for recipes. How long will the package take to reach its destination and how long before the food will spoil?

The season and your location will largely determine the latter. I'd be wary about trying to post anything decorated or chocolate-based in the middle of an Aussie summer. Similarly, be informed about customs restrictions. It's easier to post things domestically; to the best of my knowledge the only thing you can't post over state borders here is fresh fruit. But the list of forbidden items is a lengthy one when international shipping is involved. Take the time to research any restrictions. It will be a waste of your time and money if your package is held up in customs, or worse - returned to you at with a bill for the return postage. There are a tonne of resources for this and most countries own governmental sites will have an exhaustive list of what food items are prohibited. This UPS one is a quick way to check regulations: select your countries, check the boxes "prohibited or restricted commodities" and "commodity specific stipulations" and you're away. If in doubt, ask the staff at your local Post Office.

Once you've got that sorted, it's time to pick your recipe. Cookies are a great option for travel. Chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies are some of the most popular treats. You want to stick to recipes that are firm, such as an ANZAC biscuit (these cookies were designed for travel during war time). Avoid moist recipes or those covered in icing (especially in summer). Have said that, many people ship cookies with royal icing decorations. Biscotti and shortbread is another that will last the distance. Check out our biscuits and cookies tag to find suitable recipes. 

As with cookies, bars, brownies and slices work well. Make sure to cut them up into their individual slices and wrap them up before packing them away. You'll find a plethora of tried and true recipes for these under the tag.

Recycling is sexy, so reusing old containers to ship baked goods has to be the epitome of sexiness. Pringles containers work well, especially for cookies. You can use several options to fill the space in between; bubblewrap, bread and plain popcorm being some of them. Jars are a great resource when mailing treats and are perfect for pies, cupcakes and quiches. Not only will they provide an air-tight, protective casing for your baked good, you can bake your treat inside them and skip having to transfer them post-baking. Given that baking in a jar is fashionable at the moment, there is an abundance of recipe ideas to draw inspiration from.

Tips for shipping:

  • Make sure the treats are in an air tight container or packaging. Snap lock bags are good for this purpose. If you have a vacuum packaging machine, so much the better. 
  • If your treats are delicate, or in glass jars, bubble wrap is your friend.
  • If customs permits, pack the baked goods with a slice of fresh bread. This technique is great for keeping baked goods at home fresh or for re-hydrating over-baked or stale food. It's osmosis! The water moves from the bread to your baked good to maintain an equilibrium. Just remember to tell the recipient of your delivery that the bread isn't for eating. 
  • Shake test! The postmen don't care about your package as much as you do. It's going to get thrown and tossed around. Give your package a light shake and listen for movement. If you don;t hear anything shifting around inside, you'll know your packaging is sufficient.
  • Food that perishes quickly, like cheesecake, can be frozen before shipping if you can expect your package to arrive overnight. This can also be done to extend the longevity of most butter-based goods, but beware condensation. You will need to add something to your package to absorb the moisture (i.e. paper towel, moar bread).


Here are some external websites with recipes that are shipping-friendly:

Christmas Countdown: The 40 Best Cookie Recipes For Shipping
Easy Gingerbread Bars

Do you have any favourite mail-friendly resource posts? Have you written a post here with a recipe you've mailed? Let us know in the comments.

browngirl 4th-Jun-2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
I don't have any webpages, but I do love this topic. Every holiday season I mail out a few dozen small fruitcakes; being dense and soaked in preservative alcohol, they travel well, even overseas.

(And yes, they do get eaten.)
rhiannon_666 5th-Jun-2012 02:49 am (UTC)
That's awesome. Have you posted that recipe here? If not, when you do I can link it in this post.
browngirl 6th-Jun-2012 04:13 am (UTC)
One of these days I should make a Fruitcake Fotoessay for this comm. :)

Meanwhile, my fruitcake recipes are in the comments here:
rhiannon_666 5th-Jun-2012 02:59 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link!
arrietty 4th-Jun-2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
FAQ is a great idea
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