Gingerbread houses are a very traditional part of Christmas and cold weather celebrations, and there’s nothing quite like the bite and satisfying heat of really good gingerbread. If you’ve made a gingerbread house, you might be looking at it and wondering whether you can eat it
Can you eat gingerbread houses? Gingerbread houses are certainly edible. They are simply made of gingerbread, and all the decorations are edible too – unless you add your own non-edible items, of course. For this reason, you shouldn’t sprinkle your gingerbread house with non-edible glitter, sequins, etc. The icing, gems, silver balls, and other items are fine to eat.
Can You Eat Gingerbread Houses?
Many people do eat gingerbread houses, and they are perfectly edible. However, they are often made with aesthetics in mind, rather than prioritizing the taste and texture of the final product. Additionally, they are often left out on a side to be admired for several days, which doesn’t make for a wonderful treat.
Made well, gingerbread houses can be tasty, but there’s a fine balance between keeping the gingerbread soft enough to be enjoyable, and ensuring it is hard enough to support the house. After all, most gingerbread will not have enough structure to support other large pieces of gingerbread.
If you are going to make your own gingerbread house, you will probably have to spend some time formulating the perfect recipe to ensure that you can eat it and enjoy it. If you are buying a commercial one, be prepared for it to be on the hard side, especially if it has spent several days exposed to the air.
What Should You Do If You Want To Eat A Gingerbread House?
If you plan to eat your gingerbread house, there are a few things you should think about, like careful handwashing and minimizing the amount of time that it is left out for. You should also make sure that it is displayed somewhere clean and hygienic.
Let’s look at the top tricks for making a gingerbread house nice to eat!
Children are often involved in the process of creating gingerbread houses, which means it’s particularly important to focus on handwashing if the gingerbread house will be eaten. Encourage your child to wash their hands before you start the project, and after any interruptions to it.
You can accompany this by minimizing the handling of the items. It does take some skill and effort to get the house structure and the decorations in place, so use clean utensils where possible, and reduce the amount of touching as much as you can.
This will ensure that the house is still good to eat and hasn’t been manhandled more than is necessary to create it!
Next, try not to leave your gingerbread house out for longer than is necessary. You do want to get the maximum enjoyment from it, but if you’re building it weeks before Christmas, it is going to be stale and unpleasant by the time you eat it.
Try to time the building activity so that it is only done a few days before Christmas, or put it in an airtight container and freeze it until you are ready to display it. This should help to keep the gingerbread fresh, moist, and enjoyable for much longer.
Finally, look at where you intend to display the gingerbread house. Is it clean and dust free? Do any pets have access to the surface? Is it likely to get soot on it, or will it get knocked down by people passing by?
You should thoroughly clean the surface, even if your gingerbread house will sit on a plate. This reduces the dust in the area, and should help to keep the house cleaner and pleasanter. If your house is going to be displayed for some time, consider putting some clingfilm over the top to keep any dust off.
Bear in mind that any food left in the open could attract pests, and make sure your gingerbread house is not going to draw in mice or insects. This is the last thing that you need at Christmas!
All in all, the best way to make a gingerbread house stay edible is to keep it in the freezer, and only display it for a few days. It simply won’t last well otherwise.
How Long Should A Gingerbread House Last?
Different brands will last for different periods of time, and if you make your own gingerbread, the estimates will vary even more depending on your recipe. Most commercial gingerbread houses will remain edible for up to a month, but they won’t taste good for this long.
You should aim to eat a gingerbread house within about a week of opening it (or baking the gingerbread) in general. This should ensure that it is still reasonably moist and pleasant, and will mean that not too much dust has had time to gather on the surface.
If you can, store the pieces of the gingerbread house in an airtight container once the house has been broken up for consumption. This will help them to last longer and should maximize the longevity of the treat. You can even freeze pieces if this helps.
You may wish to discard some of the decorative items if they have a short shelf life. Some should be fine, so it will depend on what you use, but don’t eat anything you are unsure about. It’s better to get rid of it than to make yourself ill.
If you think the gingerbread has not kept as well as expected and you find that it has gone hard, or soft and moldy, you need to throw it away. It might be disappointing after all that work, but moldy gingerbread is dangerous, and stale gingerbread is unpleasant.
Gingerbread houses can certainly be eaten, and have been enjoyed for hundreds of years. You should bear this in mind when making a gingerbread house, and avoid letting it get contaminated by unclean hands or improper storage. For best results, freeze it and only display it for a couple of days before consuming it.