Advice on shipping Pumpernickel across the country ...
I recently made a pumpernickel loaf for the first time and my mom wants the recipe, but she is *not* a baker. I don't know that she has ever made bread before at all, in fact. The recipe I used was from the Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible.
Anyway, I thought it would be a nice gift, as my mom's birthday is near, to just bake another loaf and send it to her with some homemade jams we put up from our fruit trees this year. Since it is partially rye flour and not totally wheat flour, I figure it will keep a bit longer and so possibly could be sent USPS and still stay fairly fresh without much extra effort. I have read a few other posts about shipping breads, however I still seek a bit of advice beyond what I have seen so far.
One of my MAJOR issues is that I live in Arizona and my mom is in New Hampshire. Shipping anything from Arizona will require it to pass through Phoenix (UGH), where it is just terribly hot, potentially making things weird for the bread. I am not sure that just wrapping it in parchment, plastic, and paper and sending it off will be enough to make it safely through the heat.
I have many questions ...
I do have access to a vacuum sealer, but I know very little about the best way to use it. Is it a poor idea to vacuum seal the bread in the first place? Will that make it dry and sad? If I vacuum seal my loaf, do I have to then freeze it before shipping or can vacuum sealed pumpernickel last just fine "on the shelf" in a vacuum sealed bag?
I have also read that freezing it BEFORE vacuum sealing it will allow it to keep better shape in the vacuum sealing process. Do I freeze it, seal it, return to the freezer, then ship? If I freeze it and it thaws completely on the first day of its journey (which I am sure it will, since it will be over 100 degrees F in Phoenix), is it possible for the bread to spoil even though vacuum sealed?
Is it better to vacuum seal or risk just wrapping it with plastic and paper?
Furthermore, if vacuum sealed, what should she do upon arrival of the bread, just open the bag and eat away? Or would you all recommend re-heating the bread?
Please Help! I am looking for folks who have already successfully sent breads in this fashion, to know how well it went. Or, if I am way off track, I need someone to set me straight and tell me how to send this pumpernickel to my mom!