Shipping cold food
My son in law is wasting away in TN (his story, not mine) for lack of good Tex Mex from Austin. I want to ship him some fajitas, tortillas, salsa from his favorite restaurant. (Fonda San Miguel). Will a commercial shipper (such as UPS do this)? Do I need to use dry ice if I am shipping it overnight or will frozen gel paks do? Any advice appreciated!
FedEx will not allow dry ice.
I have shipped carne asada burritos from California to Florida overnight FedEx by freezing the burritos overnight and then packing in one of those soft sided coolers that hold 6 cans and zips inside a cardboard box.
They got there still frozen. (in December it cost me $24 for six burritos and $28 to ship)
FedEx will take dry ice but only at specific venues (you can check on their website for ones that allow hazardous materials). You need to pack it in a styrofoam box (preferably one specifically made for dry-ice, the have thicker styrofam walls), then place it in an outer (cardboard) box. You will need to place a special hazardous material sticker on it if it will be going via air. Unless you need the stuff to be frozen when it arrives wet ice (in ziploc bags) or gel packs will be more than sufficient to keep them at 40 degrees overnight (packed into a styrofoam box). UPS and DHL have similar rules. Good luck.
I tried checking a box filled with Chinese pork buns a few months ago while flying home, and discovered that although Continental airlines technically allows dry ice, there was a whole bunch of insanity required to actually get it on the plane. Apparently the pilot needs to know, and the plane can't actually carry more than a certain amount in total.
I'd call the commercial shippers and have a discussion before trying to pack it. In fact, you may need to bring the dry ice separately and let them pack it. Food shippers manage to do this all the time, and they have it down. I have a friend who orders things like brisket, shipped overnight from Austin BBQ joints, all the time -- and they arrive still frozen solid. If you can enlist a commercial shipper, you may be better off than trying it yourself. However, it will cost a fortune.
BTW, I did not hear that Fedex would not allow dry ice while I was investigating how to do this, and decided against shipping my pork buns separately via Fedex versus packing them as checked baggage after hearing what they wanted to charge, so check for the latest with any potential shipper because the rules change constantly.
A couple of years ago my best friend couldn't find matjas herring (and we, Poles, need our herring fix at Xmas) in Las Vegas where she just moved from SF. What did I do? I bought her some good herring, in a very flat plastic container, well sealed, put it in the regular FEDEX envelope and send it as an overnight mail with an am delivery. It made it ok ( yes, I was praying the whole time that it doesn't break-can you imagine the smell????). She was so happy, she couldn't stop thanking me for a long, long time.