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I am often asked "How do I store my cookies?" and "How long do they remain fresh?" If you use my method your cookies could remain fresh and edible for up to 4 weeks! Where do I keep them? In the GARAGE!
Do you know what a garage is in the winter time? It's a huge refrigerator! Of course it's colder in the mid-west and the east coast, but I actually learned to do this from my mother-in-law, Sylvia, when we lived in Santa Barbara, California! Hopefully your garage maintains its temperature in the low 40's. Basically, the colder it is in your garage, the longer the cookies remain fresh.
For this project you'll need:
First I get a 6 foot long folding table. You could pick one up rather inexpensively at your local hardware store such as Home Depot, Lowes, or even Target and Walmart carry them. (They used to be really heavy but now they make them out of lightweight plastic.) I then place a festive holiday table cloth on the table. Make sure that you have good lighting, if not, then you'll need to place a lamp on the table and run an extension cord. Next you'll need numerous aluminum cookie tins. I suppose that you could use tupperware, it's just that I do what my mother-in-law taught me and that is to use the old fashion cookie tins.
The next step is very important... you'll need a pair of scissors and a roll of wax paper to create an air tight seal. Let's say we're doing "Chocolate Chip Cookies". First I take my sheet of labels, I like to use 1 inch by 2 inch, but they can be any size, it's up to you. Next you will label the tin: "Chocolate Chip Cookies".
Line the bottom of the tin with a circle of wax paper that you cut with your scissors and use numerous layers of wax paper through out the tin. When you get to the top, make sure your last piece of wax paper is larger than the tin, you want it to hang over the outside the tin. It makes a nice air tight seal, but it's still easy to reopen. The above method is also excellent preparation to mail the cookies to friends and relatives around the country.
Repeat this method with all of your cookies. An important tip is not to store different types of cookies in the same tin. Because if you do the flavors will mix and its not pretty. You've worked too hard baking all those cookies to ruin your cookies by not storing them properly! However, for short term to ship cookies, it's ok to mix them in the same tin, but make sure none of them are touching, make different layers of cookie types use your wax paper liberally. Stick a little note in the tin for the receiver to separate the cookies after they receive them.
My last very important tip is that you must let freshly baked cookies loose their moisture before you store them. After the cookies have individually cooled on the rack you can stack them in groups of 6-8, then top with a piece of wax paper loosely draped over them. Let the cookies sit out on the rack for at least six hours but preferably overnight. The moisture has to be released before you store them in an air tight container. If you store freshly baked cookies in an air tight container, they'll be soft and crumble and will not keep very well.
When it's time eat cookies, take a plate or leave some holiday paper plates or platters on the cookie table into the garage and choose your cookies from your very own personal bakery, that you created! Bring the cookies in the house, let them come to room temperature, which is 10 to 15 minutes and serve!
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