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Shipping frozen food: need advice

bananna slug Mar 24, 2007 01:56 PM

I am out of control craving one of my very favorite meals/memories of growing up. There is a place called the Pasty Kitchen in Los Alamitos, California that serves amazing pasties and has for probably 50 years. My mother served them for Christmas Eve dinner for many, many years when I was a kid. (If you are ever in Orange County or Long Beach I think most everyone would agree that the Pasty Kitchen is well worth the stop. They serve only three things: beef, chicken or veggie pasties. Try the beef with a small amount of gravy and a Cactus Cooler. Tastes like ditching fourth period, smoking cloves and listening to KROQ to me.)

Anyway, although they sell them frozen, the Pasty Kitchen will not ship them to me in Atlanta no matter how many times I have asked/begged. I think I can impose on a couple people back home to help send them to me via Fed Ex, but I don't know how best to package them and with what.

Any advice? I need a fix.

Thanks.

  1. QueenB Mar 24, 2007 03:30 PM

    If you want to ensure they stay frozen the whole time (and I think you do), I'd suggest that they be packed with dry ice and overnighted. That's the only way that I know of to make sure that nothing thaws.
    I would imagine it will cost quite a bit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: QueenB
      w
      will_forfood Mar 31, 2007 07:04 PM

      i agree. dry ice with overnight delivery is the way to go. i've ordered from restaurants in other states (joe's stone crab in miami; lou malnati's in chicago) and they've always shipped the food overnight with dry ice. the pizzas remained frozen and joe's stone crabs and key lime pies remained refrigerator-cold.

    2. j
      justagthing Mar 24, 2007 11:23 PM

      You can also use those new gel packs that can be frozen and packed with your pasties. I use them when I travel with fresh fish. I have always passed that little place, but have never stopped. I will now have to give it a go. Thanks for the info.

      3 Replies
      1. re: justagthing
        QueenB Mar 25, 2007 07:53 AM

        I'm just not sure that the frozen gel packs would ensure that the pasties stayed frozen the entire journey. If the OP doesn't care that the pasties are thawed or partially thawed when they receive them, then gel packs are the way to go.
        Dry ice is the only way that I know of to make sure that everything remains completely frozen. Even with overnighting by FedEx, things can happen and your package can end up sitting on a plane in an airport somewhere for a day or two. With the dry ice, your package will still be good when you get it.
        As an example, I worked for a company who used to have to get $30,000 frozen materials shipped overnight from California. Last year, a major storm hit the midwest as our materials were changing planes in Indiana. Our materials sat for a day and a half at that airport before finishing their trip to Philadelphia. Amazingly, after three days of the box being at room temp, our materials were still frozen solid, thanks to the dry ice they were packed in.

        Out of curiosity, is your fresh fish frozen or thawed when you use gel packs?

        1. re: QueenB
          j
          justagthing Mar 25, 2007 08:18 AM

          it's sent fresh, not frozen, but must admit, it is same day b/c someone usually brings it to me, plus it's only seattle to la. so depending on how long those pies sit in a box really does determine the proper packaging. For my fish, it's usually 6 hours total. oh, i forgot to mention, that it is packed in a styrofoam box.

        2. re: justagthing
          bananna slug Mar 25, 2007 10:59 AM

          If you live nearby or drive by the corner of Los Alamitos and Katella you absolutely must stop by and try one. Seating is only a few concrete tables outside, so be prepared for that or get one to go. It is always the first stop for me when I am back in town and more than once I have gone there on the way home from the airport.

          Thanks for the advice.

        3. Cheese Boy Mar 25, 2007 03:21 PM

          Dry ice and styrofoam packaging.

          Here's some very helpful info ... http://www.dryiceinfo.com/shipping.htm

          1. p
            piccola Mar 25, 2007 04:33 PM

            Similar question:
            Pizzaland, the pizzeria featured in the Sopranos, ships parbaked frozen pizzas anywhere in the US, but won't ship to Ottawa (Canada), even though it's closer than many places in the US. So I want to buy a couple pies and ship them to my dad for his birthday. Any advice on packing/shipping?

            1. e
              echo Mar 27, 2007 12:08 PM

              dry ice is colder and lighter than gel packs. use it.
              also use a foam box. again, light and insulating.
              put the foam box in a cardboard box, and ship.
              dry ice lasts for days and will keep the food frozen hard. but use caution, it can give frost burns to bare hands quickly.

              1. c
                chococat Mar 27, 2007 12:21 PM

                Know anybody that works in a university science lab (molecular biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, etc.)? We get tons of supplies shipped in foam coolers (with protective cardboard boxes) on dry ice (or gel packs) that we just throw away. The supplies are almost always non-toxic and well packaged so I don't worry much about contamination, if I'm being obsessive, I'll spray it out with ethanol. These boxes are perfect for frozen food shipments-- many are already labeled for Dry Ice!

                1. m
                  MakingSense Mar 27, 2007 01:06 PM

                  This is very possible. Think of all the food that is shipped daily - even ice cream. I did this for years when my parents were very old, couldn't cook easily for themselves and were longing for special treats.
                  The tricks I learned were to ship in a stryofoam cooler - the ones that come from companies like Omaha Steaks are perfect, especially if they are inside a cardboard box. You should put the cooler inside a cardboard box.
                  Don't ship during the hottest months of the summer. I was shipping from Washington DC to New Orleans. Bad idea in July and August.
                  I didn't bother with dry ice. I packed the cooler tightly and completely with solidly frozen food, leaving as little air space as possible.
                  I packed the box as late as possible and took it to the FedEx office close to closing at 8 PM. Find out what is the latest time they will accept packages.
                  I paid for the earliest delivery the next morning. It cost a little more for the special service but it guaranteed the first in the morning service.
                  Then I didn't worry. FedEx planes are their own. They generally have few transfers, go straight to their own field in Memphis where they transfer to the next flight. I even tracked the shipments on line and saw that they were as direct as possible.
                  The food always arrived frozen solid about 12 - 14 hours after I dropped it off.
                  Remember that while it's in the air, in the hold of the plane at high altitude, it's really cold up there.
                  Of course things can happen, but that's life. Trust and everything will be fine. You are lucky to have good friends who will indulge you. If the things defrost, you will just have to eat the pasties quickly. Would that be so awful?.

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