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Keep Your Cookies Fresh Longer — Here’s How
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Stale, dry cookies are just about the saddest thing there is. To keep your homemade cookies fresh for as long as possible, you need to know how to store them. Here are a few tips and tricks, plus a hack or two that will have your friends and family thinking you’re a cookie genius.
Storage Temperature Matters
In general, you don’t want to store cookies in the refrigerator: The cool air can dry them out and make them taste blah. So stick with room temp storage, or the freezer.
Use the Right Storage Container
Cookie jars are only sometimes your best option.
Airtight is right for soft cookies!
Drop cookies and the like should be kept in an airtight container, either in a single layer for iced or decorated cookies, or in layers separated by a sheet of parchment paper for cookies with no icing.
Here’s a fun trick: Tuck a half slice of white bread in the container with the cookies. The cookies will absorb moisture from the bread, keeping them moist and soft. Nifty!
Be careful about storing different types of cookies together because they can absorb each other’s flavors. Sometimes this won’t matter much (say, with regular shortbread and browned-butter shortbread). But if you store peppermint cookies with pumpkin cookies, the results could be… unusual.
Let crispy cookies breathe.
For gingersnaps, wafer cookies and others where your goal is to retain crunch, use a container that lets some air in. A traditional cookie jar with a loose lid works, and so does an airtight container with the lid not totally sealed. Or try a bag with small holes.
What About Freezing?
The freezer is your friend when it comes to cookie management. You have two basic choices: Freeze the dough or the finished cookies.
Freeze cookie dough if you’re a planner.
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Freezing cookie dough in advance is the most farsighted move. You can either portion it out (for drop cookies like chocolate chip) or freeze it in logs (for refrigerator cookies) or discs (for cutout or rolled cookies). When you feel an urge for cookies coming on, defrost the dough in the refrigerator overnight, then bake as usual.
Freeze finished cookies the right way.
Bake your cookies according to the recipe, then cool completely before putting them anywhere near the freezer. Most cookies can be stored in the freezer for up to six months in an airtight container, either in a single layer or stacked with parchment paper between layers. Before serving, thaw the cookies overnight in the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature.
Yes, You CAN Salvage Slightly Stale Cookies
If you want to revive dried-out days-old cookies, pop them in the oven very briefly right before serving. Two or three minutes at about 300 F should do it. Serve the cookies while still slightly warm and you’ll be a hero.
Note that cookies such as sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies or bar cookies are best suited to this method of “freshening up,” while iced or chocolate-covered cookies can’t take the heat. If they’re stale, you’d best just let ’em go, or crunch ’em up to use in a cookie crumb crust.