Properly Store Your Holiday Cookies to Protect the Flavors
The first year of my marriage, my parents flew from Long Island, New York to Minneapolis, Minnesota for Christmas. They arrived at piles of snow and biting wind chills. Still, my parents enjoyed their visit, the town, and the unusual Minnesota activities, like ice fishing.
But they didn’t like my Christmas cookies. I prepared a variety of treats in preparation for their visit. After dinner, I brought a plate of cookies to the table and my mother ate some. “They all taste the same,” she said. “You shouldn’t have stored different cookies in the same container.” You can bet I never made that mistake again.
Since that Christmas many years ago, I have baked thousands of cookies: bars, drips, meringue, moulded, stamped, soft, pressed, chilled and rolled, also called die-cuts. My storage methods depend on the type of cookie. I also made unbaked cookies, chow mein noodles and dried fruit coated in melted chocolate, and broken pretzels with dried fruit, also coated in melted chocolate.
When thinking about storage, think of the broad categories: soft, crispy, and bars. Purchase your ingredients and storage containers well in advance. I’ve used decorated boxes, coffee cans, wide-mouth mason jars, plastic containers with screw-on tops, and plastic containers with snap-on sides. Wash all containers in hot soapy water before using.
Soft cookies are fun to make because of their cake-like batter and frosting. I made sweet orange mounds with fresh orange juice frosting. If you’re making a soft cookie like this, arrange them in a single layer to avoid damaging the frosting. The unfrosted variety can be stored in layers in an airtight container, with wax paper between the layers.
Crispy cookies should be stored in a container with a lid or a loose lid, depending on the Pillsbury Complete Cookbook. A decorative pot can do the trick. I’ve had several and the lids didn’t fit well, perfect for the batches I’ve made. A holiday box can also work.
Experience has taught me to be very careful with meringue cookies. The purpose of storage is to keep moisture away from them. Use the most airtight container you can find, such as a plastic box with snap sides or specialty jars. Glass and plastic jars with snap-on lids are available at discount stores.
Bars are another story. Minnesotans love making bars because they’re easy, quick, and tasty. Unlike meringues, your storage goal with bars is to keep them moist. Leave uncut bars in pan and cover with foil. Cut just before serving. These treats also freeze very well.
Remember the advice from the Pillsbury cookbook: “Use a separate container for each variety of biscuits to avoid mixing flavors.” Happy Holidays and Happy Holidays to you and your family!
Copyright 2013 by Harriet Hodgson