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A few years back I baked pies in jars because I thought it was a cute idea. Later I brought pies on a weekend getaway and found the jars were a handy way to transport and serve them. I’ve been using jars as serving containers for parties and picnics ever since. I’ve talked about my love of jars before but I have not laid out all the reasons why, so here they are:
- You can seal them up to contain any potential mess while transporting food.
- After the food is eaten you can close the jars and contain any leftover stickiness until you get home to wash them.
- If you’re making a baked good you can bake it right in the jar ahead of time. If you’re headed out to a vacation home you can prepare and freeze the dessert, then bake one at a time as people get hungry. I’ve found that particularly nice as it allows people to graze if they’d like.
- If you’re seated on a picnic blanket I find them easier to eat out of than trying to keep a plate level. (I am a clumsy person and always end up tipping a plate at picnics.)
- They are water tight so you can fill them with ice cream or pudding and stick them in a cooler without worrying that water from melted ice will ruin dessert.
- They are a fun way to present the foods. Jars have become pretty well known on blogs and Pinterest but people at bbqs will appreciate the novelty and declare you a genius.
- Individual portions eliminate the need to bring extra serving utensils or use plastic wrap to cover a serving dish that doesn’t have a lid.
- Something I found at the last bbq I attended: it’s very simple to send extras home with people because the treat is already ready to go, you just hand them a jar.
- Similarly if you bring home leftovers they are ready to be stuck in the freezer for later.
- You can use jars to give out food as favors or as great packaging for a bake sale item. (Tip: I’ve discovered people are happy to pay a bit more for something in jar packaging.)
- If you’re setting out a few dips jars work wonderfully. For a cookbook club I brought pretzel sticks with three different kinds of mustard and jars worked perfectly for serving containers.
- My favorite: I have a very small kitchen and don’t have space to store the sorts of serving dishes that would be great to have for picnics but I can store a few stacks of jars in the back of my cabinet.
Small tip: Keep the box the jars come in, it makes the best tray to carry the jars either to your back yard or to a friend’s house.
The pies pictured above were ones that I brought to a friend’s house for a backyard cookout. After I got home and washed the jars I realized that nothing ended up being thrown into the trash through the whole process save the excess flour I wiped off the counter. Oh yeah, racking up those environmental points.
If you are using the jars for favors you can include a list of uses for after the contents have been eaten. Here is a list I included with a bunch of cobblers I made for a bake sale:
- Shake a vinegrette for a salad (1 part balsalmic + 4 parts olive oil + salt and pepper + maybe a touch of mustard + a drop of water).
- Use it to store dried annuals seeds in the back of the fridge until April rolls around.
- Use it to store leftover lemon juice or zest in the freezer.
- Use it to store that last 1/2 cup of buttermilk leftover from making pancakes.
- Throw loose coins in it and save up for a really good chocolate bar.
- Keep a stash of cinnamon sugar or vanilla sugar.
- Sip some nice bourbon out of it while sitting on a shady porch.
We use ours for salad dressing and bourbon more often than I would have suspected.
You can also use a larger jar to collect used flatware and transport it home where you can wash it:
Picnic season is almost here (yaaaay)! Do you have any tips for entertaining? Any clever things you’ve found that help keep trash to a minimum? Share so we can ooooh over your genius.