Sunday, 4 November 2012

Care Package Special Feature Part 2: Going the Distance

Part 2 of my Care Package series is all about homemade treats that will still be delicious after they sit around in a box for awhile. Nestle has a few recipes on for desert safe treats here. These recipes don't include butter (so the treats won't go rancid if the package takes a couple months to get where it's going) or other ingredients that shouldn't be sent to the Middle East, which makes them perfect for deployment care packages. I've made their desert safe brownies and they turned out pretty well. The soldiers I sent them to really liked them. But don't feel obligated to stick to recipes like these. If your soldier has a favourite goodie that you make, go ahead and send it. As long as you follow the tips below, almost anything is mailable.

Tips for Freshness
1. If you can create and airtight seal, do it! If you have a vacuum sealer, put it to good use and seal your treats. No air means your goodies will last longer before they mold or start to taste stale. If you don't have one, there are a couple hand-held models on the market that are fairly cheap. Invest in one of those if you can.
2. Can't vacuum seal your goodies? That's okay. Wrap cookies two at a time, back to back, or squares in single servings. Start by wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap. Then wrap them in foil. Put them in a plastic freezer bag and squish out as much of the air as you can. Besides adding an extra layer of freshness protection, the freezer bag can be resealed once your soldier gets your treats. Otherwise they might just have to eat them all right away ;)
3. It's a good idea to put your goodies in a metal tin after you wrap them. This will help keep little critters from munching on your treats.

Tips for Packaging
1. Cushion your goodies. If you're placing your treats in a tin after you wrap and bag them, fill the tin with tissue paper. It will make everything look nice when your soldier opens it, but it will also help cushion cookies on the trip.
2. Pack your box tightly. Fill in an extra space with crumpled paper, bubble wrap, etc. This will keep things from moving around too much and help keep your goodies safe.
3. Fragile cookies generally don't ship as well as a nice sturdy cookie. That said, if you pack it properly, you can still send it. I've found that even delicate shortbread cutouts will make it if you vacuum seal them and cushion the package properly. And even if the cookies get there a little worse for the wear, your soldier will love them anyway.

Tips for Making it Extra Special
1. A tin and tissue paper go a long way to making your package look pretty.
2. Adding ribbon, gift tags, cards, or even wrapping your goodies up in wrapping paper (seasonal or just generic colourful paper), will all add an extra special touch.
3. Including handwritten letters always makes any package you send better. Adding a few pictures of yourself making the cookies is a good idea too. Your soldier will get to see you and feel even more connected to home.

Care Package Notes
These cute care package cards from OperationCare on Etsy
are a pretty way to label care package treats.

Stick around for Part 3: Creative Treats.

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