Posted Dec 16, 2011

Probably the closest thing to home, if you can’t be there for the holidays, is to receive a package which comes from there.

Sending a food gift, especially a homemade one, is a special treat, according to Lynnette Mensah, nutrition and wellness educator with the University of Illinois Extension DeWitt, Macon & Piatt Unit. But whether home prepared or purchased, those items should be carefully and safely packed for enjoyment upon their arrival, she added.

As part of the Simplify the Holidays workshops presented by the DeWitt, Macon & Piatt Unit, Mensah’s suggestions for safely mailing food gifts were distributed.

Some of her suggestions included dried foods, including nuts; dehydrated soups and fruit drink mixes; condiments in packets or unbreakable containers; cannned specialty foods, such as crackers, commercial cheese spreads, canned tuna or chicken; dense and dry baked goods, such as fruitcakes or biscotti because they will not mold; commercially packaged cakes and cookies; hard candies or homemade treats such as peanut brittle or toffee.

Mensah suggested that whenever possible, and especially for safety considerations, send foods not requiring refrigeration. And homemade cookies or candies should be individually wrapped, then packed with foam cushioning to protect them.

“Sturdy, dry cookies such as ginger snaps, peanut butter, sugar cookies ship well,” she said. Special care should be given to any food that is perishable or has high moisture content, she added.

And The National Center for Home Food Preservation provides a list of foods that are not recommended as gifts, including homemade herbs or vegetables in oil or oil infusions, though flavored vinegars when properly prepared are safe; “canned” breads or cakes such as “Cake-in-a-Jar;” homemade chocolate or fudge sauces because safe, tested recipes are not available for home processing of these low-acid sauces that contain dairy products; pumpkin butter because there are no safe, tested recipes; food canned in decorative, untested jars; any canned food that does not have a tested recipe for processing because only safe, tested recipes from a reliable research-based source should be used.

For more information about safe food handling, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline, 1-888-674-6854 or email or visit “Ask Karen!” for an automated food safety information 24/7,

On the Web

Sources used by Mensah for information included:

–National Center for Home Food Preservation:

–Clemson University Extension:

–USDA Mail Order Food Safety Fact Sheet:

–Washington State University Extension:

©2011 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.)

Visit the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) at

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This