Saving time and money is a win-win situation in my book.
I've been cookie decorating for a year and a half now and I'm finally putting into practice some tips I've read about along the way. For example, I started using Karen's Cookies tip of wrapping your icing in plastic wrap before putting it in your icing bag about 3 months ago. I'll never go back to putting icing directly in the bags. Clean up is so much easier and when I run out of a color, I simply drop another plastic wrapped 'bullet' of icing right into the bag.
But the one thing I've constantly read about and had neglected putting into practice was saving leftover icing and reusing it to mix my next batch of colors. Mostly, I think this stems from my mild OCD of liking to have absolutely everything cleaned up after my weekly orders are complete. This is especially true if I go a week or two without any orders.
But...then one overly busy week...sheer tiredness set in and my icing bags and bottles sat on my KopyKake board for a few days after all my orders had been completed. Most people think decorating cookies would be the most time consuming, but that just isn't the case. Now, this is how it is for me; every decorator is different. Baking cookies usually takes the least amount of time. I have my recipe memorized, my oven heats up fast, I'm not overly concerned with exact measuring of the thickness of the dough and each tray only takes 9 minutes to bake...which means I can crank out lots of cookies in a short amount of time. When I decorate cookies I get into a rhythm...with the help of my KopyKake, I can also 'mass produce' cookies at a fairly steady and quick pace.
But what is the most time consuming and dreadfully boring part of this whole cookie thing is clean up time and color mixing time.
During that same exhausting week, this post showed up in my blog roll: Sugarbelle's icing coloring tips. Something clicked.
Motivated by my laziness (is that an oxymoron?), I decided to take Sugarbelle up on her challenge (though I'm not really sure she meant it to be a challenge).
Talk about life changing.
Mixing colors, especially true primary colors and deep, dark colors takes lots of time and use lots of gel food coloring. That gel food coloring is expensive and if you use Americolor (which I do) typically has to be ordered online. Lots of it will also make your icing start to taste funky...typically it happens with red and black.
Just stop and think about the amount of time and money you will save if you start the process with pre-colored icing.
Originally, I had guilt for using 'old' icing. That feeling quickly disappeared when I stopped and thought about what I use in my royal icing. Confectioner's Sugar, corn syrup, meringue powder, cream of tartar and a dash of almond extract. All of those products have an insanely long life span.
Icing doesn't get 'old', it just separates. By adding some new icing you instantly 'freshen' it up and save yourself (and your arm) from lots and lots of mixing.
So how does it help with clean up? I guess it doesn't specifically. I squeeze all the old icing into clean containers, then wash the tips and couplers as I do anyway. What it does do however; is allows me cut myself some slack. Instead of feeling as though I immediately have to wash and clean up everything, I now let the icing to stay exactly where it is until it's time to prepare to decorate my next batch of cookies. Now...when I'm too tired to instantly clean up, I have a reason to let those bottles and bags sit there.
Here's a picture of what I mean by reusing my icing.
Congratulations on making it through my really long blog post!
I'll have more cookie pictures soon. Orders are picking back up!