Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? It's hard to believe, but cookies can actually be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. The question here is whether any cookie has ever had a chance to prove its shelf-life before ending up in a passerby's mouth. Regardless, airtight is the keyword in cookie storage. Sealable plastic bags or containers with tight fitting lids, and even those charming old-fashioned cookie jars will keep cookies delicious if air is banned!
Store cookies only when they have cooled completely. Steam produced from warm cookies can moisten a batch and cause deterioration quickly. Before storing frosted cookies, allow the icing to harden and dry. Then store iced and moist cookies between double layers of waxed paper to keep them from sticking to each other. Stack cookies only three layers deep to prevent the bottom cookies from becoming pancakes.
Cookies are great sharers! Not only are they fun for people to share, they like to lend their flavors and textures to each other. For this reason, its best to keep different cookies separated during storage. Keep moist and crisp or spicy and mild flavored cookies away from each other. Chocolate cookies really like to absorb flavors. Keep them away not only from other cookies but also from other strongly flavored foods. Pack each type of cookie in its own bag or container and you'll never encounter sharing dilemmas.
To keep soft cookies from hardening, place an apple slice or piece of bread in the storage container. Change the apple or bread when it becomes hard. Enliven limp crisp cookies by placing them on a baking sheet and warming them up at 300 F. for a few minutes.
Many filled cookies or chocolate-dipped treats store best in the refrigerator where their delicate fillings or decorations won't spoil or melt. Be sure to keep them airtight, again, to keep them from absorbing fridge-flavors and from hardening.
For longer storage, consider freezing the cookies. (Do the cookies store longer because out-of-sight equals out-of-mind equals out-of-mouth?) Cookies will keep for up to four months in the freezer. Airtight continues to be the rule-of-thumb in freezer storage, too. Cookies that don't freeze well include meringues and sandwich cookies with jam fillings. For sandwich cookies, freeze the cookie part and then fill with jam or other fillings prior to serving.
Brownies and bars can be frozen directly in the pan after cooling. Pull from the freezer and let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before cutting/serving. If you prefer to keep your pan available for other baking needs, line it with aluminum foil, overlapping the edges of the pan, before adding the bar batter. Then, after baking and cooling, lift the bars out of the pan, using the aluminum foil. Wrap tightly and store airtight before labeling and freezing.
For just like fresh-baked treats, place frozen cookies on a baking sheet and warm them in a preheated oven (300 F.) for a few minutes. You can freshen up store-bought or limp homemade cookies this same way. You can also defrost cookies at room temperature. Unwrap them slightly so moisture can escape instead of heading back into the cookie.
* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *