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Illinois Country Living

November 2007 Issue: FeatureCommentaryCurrents SafetyGardenEnergy SolutionsFinest Cooking More

Jananne Finck, Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, University of Illinois Extension Springfield Extension Center, 217-782-6515.

Safety & Health:

Giving Safe Food Gifts

Don't "spoil" a holiday food gift with a dose of bacteria

Holiday gift giving can be especially enjoyable for the giver as well as the receiver, especially if the gift is homemade. Food gifts can be a special way to share a little of yourself during the holiday season.

When deciding what food gift to make, try to match the food preference to the person receiving the gift. If they are a salad lover, they would most likely appreciate herb-flavored vinegar, while a cookie lover will enjoy a jar of cookie mix.

Also, consider the person's needs, including special diets. If someone has diabetes, salt restrictions and so on, plan accordingly.

After matching the food gift to the person, consider how you want to present the gift. You might use a container that will be a lasting reminder of your thoughtfulness, especially if the container can be used again.

Consider food safety too when preparing food gifts. Remember some things can be made ahead of time and safely kept until time to give. Other items need to be delivered and eaten in a very short time period. Be sure to include storage conditions and times with the gift.

Be careful of some food recipes given in jars. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) breads or cakes canned in a jar are NOT recommended for canning. In fact, the NCHFP states these products are not really "canned." The directions call for baking in the jar and then closing with a canning lid.

Many recipes for quick breads and cakes are low-acid and have the potential for supporting the growth of a bacteria like Clostridium botulinum if it is present inside the closed jar. One university's research showed a high potential for problems.

While we may see these products made commercially, they have additives, preservatives and processing controls not available for home recipes. Canning jar manufacturers also don't endorse baking in their canning jars. Choose recipes that you can freeze instead.

The following cookie mix recipe is a tasty gift that many would enjoy receiving. It's quick and easy to make, which gives an opportunity for family members to help too!

Be sure to put on the tag that for best quality use within one to two months.

The soup mix recipe is a great idea for those wanting to watch sodium and calories. Be sure to include the recipe and directions with the mix. This mix will keep for several months if stored in a cool, dry place.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

  • 1 cup flour ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • Stir first 3 ingredients together, and then pour into a 1 quart jar.
  • Lay the following in the jar:
  • ½ cup brown sugar 1 cup quick oats
  • (pack, then loosen) ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup white sugar

Directions for gift card: To the entire contents of this jar, stir in ½ cup or one stick margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 beaten egg. Mix until completely blended. Shape into small balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Nutrient analysis per cookie: 85 calories, 1 gram protein, 4 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates, 6 mg cholesterol. Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fat.


Condensed Cream Soup Mix

  • 2 cups nonfat dry milk 2 Tbs. dried onion flakes
  • ¾ cup cornstarch 1 tsp. dried basil, crushed
  • ¼ cup sodium-reduced 1 tsp. dried whole thyme
  • chicken flavored ½ tsp. pepper
  • granules
  • 2 Tbs. dried onion flakes

Directions for gift card: Mix dry milk, cornstarch, bouillon, onion flakes, basil, thyme and pepper. Store in airtight container. To substitute for 1 can (10 ¼ oz) condensed soup, combine 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 ¼ cups water. Heat to gentle boil, stirring until thickened. Makes 3 cups - equivalent to 9 cans of condensed cream soup.

Nutrient analysis for 1 can condensed soup: 108 calories, 7 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, trace of fat, trace of cholesterol, 464 mg sodium, and 230 mg calcium. Exchanges: 1 starch.

© 2007 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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