Store Your Holiday Cookies Properly to Protect the Flavors

The first year I was married my parents flew from Long Island, New York to Minneapolis, Minnesota for Christmas. They arrived to piles of snow and biting wind chills. Still, my parents enjoyed their visit, the city, and Minnesota’s unusual activities, such as ice fishing.

But they didn’t enjoy my Christmas cookies. I baked a variety of goodies in preparation for their visit. After dinner, I brought a plate of cookies to the table and my mother ate a couple of them. “They all taste alike,” she said. “You shouldn’t have stored different cookies in the same container.” You can bet I never made this mistake again.

Since that Christmas many years ago, I’ve baked thousands of cookies: bars, drop, meringue, molded, stamped, soft, pressed, refrigerator, and rolled, which are also called cut-outs. My storage methods depend on the type of cookie. I’ve made unbaked cookies as well, chow mein noodles and dried fruit coated with melted chocolate, and broken pretzels with dried fruit, also coated melted chocolate.

When you think of storage, think of major categories: soft, crisp, and bars. Buy your ingredients and storage containers well ahead of time. I’ve used decorated tins, coffee cans, wide-mouth Mason jars, plastic containers with screw tips, and plastic containers with snap sides. Wash all containers in hot, soapy water before using them.

Soft cookies are fun to make because of their cake-like batter and frosting. I’ve made soft orange mounds with fresh orange juice frosting. If you make a soft cookie like this, store them in a single layer to avoid damaging the frosting. The un-frosted variety may be stored in layers in an airtight container, with wax paper between the layers.

Crisp cookies should be stored in a container with a loose-fitting cover or lid, according to the Pillsbury Complete Cook Book. A decorative jar may do the trick. I’ve had several of them and the lids didn’t fit tightly, perfect for the batches I made. A holiday tin may also work.

Experience has taught me to be extra-careful with meringue cookies. The storage goal is to keep moisture away from them. Use the most air-tight container you can find, such as a plastic box with snap sides or special jars. Glass and plastic jars with snap-type lids are available from discount stores.

Bars are a different story. Minnesotans love to make bars because they’re easy, quick, and flavorful. Unlike meringues, your storage goal with bars is to keep them moist. Leave the uncut bars in the baking pan and cover them with aluminum foil. Cut just before serving. These treats also freeze well.

Remember the Pillsbury cook book’s advice: “Use a separate container for each cookie variety to avoid mingling flavors.” Happy holidays and happy munching to you and your family!

Copyright 2013 by Harriet Hodgson

Source by Harriet Hodgson

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