Nothing beats a homemade cookie, except for a cookie that has just cooled down after 15 to 25 minutes in the oven. However, homemade cookies aren’t meant for long in this world, and we don’t just mean that your family will devour them the moment they’re done. If you plan on storing your freshly baked cookies in a cookie jar for a rainy day, you might want to reconsider.
Cookie jars typically do not have airtight seals, so cookies will only last for 3 days in the jar at most.
That said, you can extend the lifespan of your cookies in a number of ways. In the following sections, I’ll discuss how long cookies stay fresh in a cookie jar, how to prolong the lifespan of homemade cookies, and how to tell whether or not a cookie is past its prime.
How Long Do Cookies Stay Fresh in a Cookie Jar?
While cookie jars can be absolutely cute, they’re not meant for long-term storage. This is especially true with ceramic cookie jars with non-airtight lids that you leave on kitchen countertops.
At most, you can expect a homemade cookie to remain fresh for up to 3 days in a cookie jar. Any longer and the cookie might begin to feel soggy, have a slightly sour taste, or crumble in your fingers before you can lift it to your mouth.
Why Don’t Cookies Stay Fresh for Very Long?
If you’ve never baked cookies before, you should know that one of the most crucial ingredients in any cookie is butter. This should give you a pretty good idea of why cookies don’t remain fresh for past just a few days.
Butter, when unrefrigerated, can spoil quickly. Combining this with the fact that most homemade cookies do not have preservatives in them, it makes sense that cookies won’t retain their chewiness or snap when stored at room temperature for very long.
In addition, you will have to worry about how heat and moisture will make food spoil more rapidly. So, if you don’t have an airtight cookie jar or container, and if you don’t leave it in a dry place away from sunlight, the next time you bite into a cookie may ruin cookies for you forever.
How to Extend the Lifespan of Homemade Cookies
There are a number of different things you can do to ensure that your cookies stay fresher in the cookie jar for longer. I’ll go over these things down below.
Let the Cookies Cool Thoroughly Before Storing
You might feel tempted to move cookies from the cookie sheet to the jar the moment they come out of the oven, but you should stop yourself from doing this. The cookies need a few minutes to release built-up steam that comes from the wet ingredients (butter, eggs, vanilla extract, milk, etc.). If you allow the cookies to steam inside the cookie jar, the moisture from the steam can become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
After you’ve finished baking a batch of cookies, transfer the cookies to a wire cooling tray. That way, steam will vent out of the cookie from all directions and not remain trapped underneath.
Place the Cookies in an Airtight Container
Air and oxygen play a critical role in food spoilage. As such, you should do your best to find a food-safe container that is as airtight as possible. There are some Tupperware food containers that have airtight lids, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can cover the cookies in a sheet of cling film before placing the lid on the jar.
Store the Cookie Jar in a Cool, Dry Place
Again, heat and water can cause your cookie to spoil rapidly, so you should find a spot in your kitchen that is as free of sunlight and moisture as possible. Do not place your cookies in the refrigerator since it is filled with airborne moisture particles. Instead, move the cookie jar inside a cabinet or another part of your kitchen or home with minimal exposure to light and water vapors.
Separate Cookies with Parchment/Wax Paper
There is no surefire way to ensure that your cookies will remain fresh indefinitely. However, you can prevent the spread of bacteria from cookie to cookie by separating them with individual sheets of parchment paper or wax paper. That way, if one cookie doesn’t pass the test of time, it will have a reduced risk of spreading its germs to the other cookies. That said, you should probably toss out all of your cookies if one cookie in the jar has gone bad.
Freeze Your Cookies
While extreme, this is arguably the safest thing you can do to prolong the life of homemade cookies. After baking your cookies and allowing them to rest, immediately stuff them in a Ziploc bag and freeze them. Frozen cookies can last for weeks or even months at a time, and all you have to do is reheat them in the oven for a few minutes. While frozen cookies aren’t technically fresh, they will retain a fresher flavor for much longer after they’ve come out of the oven.
How Can I Tell When a Cookie Is Spoiled?
After opening a cookie jar, you should keep an eye out for the following symptoms to ensure that the cookies won’t cause food poisoning.
Odors—Do you get a whiff of more than just the butter, sugar, chocolate chips, and vanilla extract when you crack open the cookie jar lid? If so, then it might be time to toss out the cookies.
Texture Changes—Oddly enough, cookies that started off chewy will end up becoming stiff over time, and vice versa. In either case, if the cookie disintegrates in your hand before you can pop it into your mouth, then you should toss the cookies directly into the trash bin.
Staleness—While staleness is indicative of not-so-fresh cookies, you can still eat them. However, they will not be as pleasant as a fresh cookie, so you might want to toss them out nonetheless.
Mold Spores—This is a surefire sign that your cookies are way past their prime. If you see green, blue, black, or white spores growing on the cookie’s surface, then there was too much moisture in the cookie jar.