Shipping food across the country - ice packs necessary?
June 27, 2014 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I want to ship (locally store-bought) chocolate and (homemade) jam across the country (US). Will the quality noticeably diminish if I don't use ice packs?

I'm thinking of using the USPS Priority 2-Day flat rate service, with bubble wrap which I hope will serve as a heat insulator. I'm shipping from Oregon to New York. A lot of online shipping guides recommend packing ice bags, but will it make a noticeable difference? (If it makes a big difference, I'll spring for some ice packs, but they are kind of a hassle to buy in small quantities.)
posted by dragonfruit to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
Response by poster: Forgot to add: this is now, in the summer, which is why I'm worried about ice packs.
posted by dragonfruit at 6:40 PM on June 27, 2014

How picky is your recipient? I was mailed some nice chocolate bars cross-country last year at the beginning of Sept and they arrived just fine in a plain mailing envelope. I'm not super picky, so there might have been a bit of bloom on them (but they had not melted).
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:57 PM on June 27, 2014

Response by poster: My recipient is not very picky, but since this will be a gift I'd like it to arrive in good shape. Would it help if I mailed it using the next-day service? What about next-day service + ice pack?
posted by dragonfruit at 7:04 PM on June 27, 2014

Best answer: I say next day and a ton of ice packs for the chocolate ( which may cause a grayish bloom but won't harm it).
posted by brujita at 7:24 PM on June 27, 2014

Best answer: Honestly, I'd wait until cooler weather if you can. I get a lot of chocolate shipped to me (perks of my job) and in the summer it usually comes in a special insulated box, with LOTS of ice packs, overnighted. And even then, if it's been very hot, sometimes the chocolate has started to melt. If you can't wait to ship the chocolate, the best way would be to track down an insulated shipping box, pack it with ice packs, and ship it 1-day. This will be very expensive. I honestly wouldn't bother shipping it 2-day or without ice or insulation, though, because that is just a recipe for a hot mess. Your package could be sitting in a hot delivery van, or out on the tarmac, or in front of your friend's door for hours...chocolate starts to melt around 86-90 degrees, so it won't take much to ruin your thoughtful gesture.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 1:37 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I ordered chocolate from Jacque Torres, and they shipped it next morning delivery with no ice packs.
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:49 AM on June 28, 2014

Just to make sure it's said...Don't actually use ice packs. Use freezable gel packs.
And definitely next-day delivery.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:57 AM on June 28, 2014

As long as your jam is shelf stable (I'm a staunch follower of the USDA water-bath canning guidelines), your jam will be fine. If it is freezer jam or not canned, you'll need to pack it in enough ice to keep it at a safe temperature (40°F is the recommended fridge temperature).
posted by carrioncomfort at 9:53 AM on June 28, 2014

Response by poster: I next-day shipped the chocolate & jam with lots of ice packs, and friend said they arrived in very good condition. Thanks for the advice everyone!
posted by dragonfruit at 11:58 AM on July 6, 2014

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