foodbuzz 24×24: an all-jar feast.

[28 Aug 2011 | By | 35 Comments]

chianti jelly

red pepper jelly appetizer

I didn’t quite know what to call this themed-menu: Jars for Dinner? A Jarred Feast? Cooking in Jars? This meal—strewn with jars—is a perfect ‘confession’ of my obsession with jars.

boxes of jarsYes: I am obsessed. I adore jars, I go to garage sales and estate sales in search of jars. I find dilapidated boxes full of forgotten, apparently past-their-prime preserving jars. Perhaps the whole notion feels like a rescue mission? I find these once well-used, annually-filled jars caked with dust and tossed into even dustier boxes. I scoop them up, take them home and wash out the cobwebs. I buy new sealers and rubber rings, I place them like trophies on an open kitchen ledge. I cradle them with my eyes, take pictures of them and make big plans for building pantries on my urban farm.

Then, when the fruit is plump and the bounty is in: they become the useful, preserve-filled vessels they were meant to be.

Pickles, jams, chutneys and salsas fill hot jars just under the brim. Lids sing ‘plink, plink, plunk’ as they seal in their respective seasonal bounty—and the jars once again stand proud. My affection for them rises.

When empty, I use jars for all sorts of things. Whether holding pencils or leftover soup, buttons or fresh flowers, simple syrup or bacon grease. Jars in my kitchen boast spice labels and showcase arborio rice, line my shelves as water glasses and keep coffee grounds fresh. I told you it was an obsession… but perhaps a healthy one? I liken my ever-increasing use of jars to ‘Ziploc replacement therapy.’ Jars are a re-usable receptacle, after all.

And did you know? You can cook right in jars. For this all-jar feast I warmed dip in individual servings for an appetizer, made soup, souffles, biscuits and even pie all in individual jars. This jarred meal took place at my brother and sister-in-laws’ lakeside home in Bellingham, WA—a casual and fun-filled meal with relatives.

jack and calebjar buffetcindyjanelle

The menu started with two summery cocktails ‘shaken,’ chilled and served in jars. Next I offered two appetizers—a jarred preserve served with cheese, and individual jars filled with just-baked dip. The soup coarse included corn biscuits and salmon chowder with fresh zucchini, tomatoes and just-clipped herbs (both the biscuits and soup were cooked right in the jars!). The main coarse: individual, ‘jarred’ potato souffles served with herb/shallots/goat cheese stuffed and grilled pork loin. No jar? Actually yes: I took homemade Chianti Jelly as a base for a divine wine sauce to accompany the pork. I do that sometimes: use preserves as a base for salad dressings, meat sauces or even to flavor cocktails or homemade soda. It’s not cheating… it’s smart! Besides, I wanted this meal to ‘parade’ the many uses of jars, from cocktail shaker to drinking glasses, candle and flower holders, as baking/cooking vessels and much more.


making pie

pie in jars

For dessert: pie in a jar. Actually it was hard to choose: shall I make cheesecake in a jar? A crumble or crisp? Individual tiramisus or creme brulees? I finally settled on blackberry pies; my family adores blackberries and I found some nearby bushes… plus I couldn’t resist picking extra for a batch of jarred blackberry jam. Wide smile.


kamikazicocktails in jarsLime Kamikazi’s
Vodka, triple sec and fresh lime juice: made it ahead in large jar, sealed & stored in freezer.

Mint Jelly Mojitos
Homemade mint jelly preserves served as the ‘mint’ and ‘sweet’ notes in a classic mojito: combine gold rum with mint jelly (use jar as shaker), add lime juice and splash of soda. Strain into jars and serve.

Red Pepper Jelly with Goat Cheese & Rosemary Crackers
Perhaps the most popular preserve on our urban farm: red pepper jelly (made with red bell peppers and red pepper flakes). I served it right out of the jar, with goat cheese and rosemary crackers for an easy appetizer. (Photo top of page).

Jarred: Artichoke and Sun-dried Tomato Dip
Make dip, place in jars and heat in oven. Guests enjoy individual appetizers! Serve with crackers or crostini. Recipe follows.

Jarred: Tarragon Salmon Chowder
I skipped the dill, potatoes and corn and instead tossed in loads of garden herbs, homegrown squash and Sungold tomatoes, then sealed and baked the jarred salmon chowders right in the oven. Recipe follows.

Jarred: White Cheddar and Scallion Biscuits
I mixed the dough, placed them into 4 oz. jars and baked them. Guests enjoyed warm jar-shaped biscuits—a perfect compliment with salmon chowder. Recipe follows.

Jarred: Herbed Potato Souffle
Can it be done? I couldn’t resist the challenge of baking a souffle in a jars. Sure enough: the souffles rose and browned. I will be making jarred souffles again soon!

Pork with Chianti Sauce (made with Chianti Jelly)
I highly recommend taking a wine jelly or fig jam or some fun flavor and stirring it into sauce that will accompany meat; I made the sauce by sauteeing shallots, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs in olive oil. I then added 1-2 T flour and cooked/stirred for 2 minutes. Then added 2-3 T of wine jelly and stirred to blend, then added homemade chicken broth and let simmer for another 10 minutes. I cut the pork loin, stuffed it with goat cheese/herbs/sauteed shallots and garlic/minced rosemary; I tied it and we grilled it. To serve, I sliced 3/4 inch slices and drizzled with Chianti Sauce.

Pie in a Jar: Blackberry
This was perhaps the greatest hit of the night: each person equipped with a spoon had their own jar of pie. I bought pre-made pie dough (Trader Joe’s), rolled it out and cut large circles to line tiny 4 oz. jars. I filled each jar with blackberry mix and topped with a small round of dough, pricking each little pie. Blackberry mix: 4 cups just-picked blackberries, 1/4 cup flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 2/3 cup sugar to blend. Oven 375 until browned, about 25 minutes. Pictures above.

mis en place in jars

biscuits in jars

White Cheddar & Scallion Biscuits
12-16 4 oz. jar biscuits

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
pinch cayenne
4 T cold butter
1/4 cup finely chopped scallion greens
1 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup plus 2 T cold milk

Oven to 375. Grease jars; combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Use pastry blender to ‘just’ mix butter into dry ingredients—marble size butter pieces are fine. Use wooden spoon and mix in scallions, cheese and milk. Just when dough comes together, divide among jars and bake 25 minutes.

soup in jars

Jarred: Tarragon Salmon Chowder
12 individual jar servings. I used wide, low 8 oz. jars.

1/2 LB salmon (or snapper, cod, halibut…) deboned and cut into 3/4 inch bites
12-24 Sungold tomatoes
4 stalks asparagus
2-3 ribs celery
1/3 cup mixed, minced fresh herbs (tarragon, chervil, parsley, chives, oregano, etc.)
KS&CP (Kosher Salt and Coarse Pepper)
optional: 1/4 cup minced shallots & garlic
choose one: heavy cream/broth or olive oil

Mince herbs and finely slice asparagus, celery, squash. Place 2-3 pieces of salmon, 1-2 Sungold tomatoes, a small handful of vegetables in each jar. Distribute shallots and garlic among jars, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Then drizzle 2 T cream and 2 T broth OR drizzle 1-2 T olive oil in each jar. Seal jars. (Jar contents should come up about halfway in jars; don’t overfill). In 400 oven, heat large casserole dish right in oven—1/2 full of water. When water is hot, add jars to water and cook 15-18 minutes. Remove from pan, open lids being careful not to burn yourself. Serve immediately.

Herbed Potato Souffle
12 individual jar servings.

2 T butter
1 1/2 LBS. baking potatoes
1/2 LB shredded Gruyere
3/4 cup half and half
1 tsp. each: oregano, thyme
1 T finely chopped rosemary
2 tsp Italian flat-leaf parsley
KS&CP (kosher salt and coarse pepper)
5 large eggs, separated
2 large egg whites
pinch: cream of tartar

Oven to 375. Butter and flour jars. Boil, then simmer potatoes for 20 minutes until fork tender. Drain, then shake over heat to burn off moisture. Add butter, stir in half and half. Add cheese, herbs, S&P. Let cool slightly; stir in yolks. In electric mixer: beat 7 egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until stiff. Stir 1/3 whites into potatoes; fold in remaining whites. Put in jars, bake in bottom 1/3 of oven for 35 minutes until browned. Serve immediately.

artichoke dip

dip in jars

appetizers in jars

Artichoke & Sundried Tomato Dip
12 4 oz. jars.

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, sundried tomatoes (stored in oil; drained)
2 cups Gruyere
1 1/4 cup artichoke hearts (14 oz. can: drained, chopped)
pinch garlic powder
pinch hot pepper sauce

Oven to 350. Combine ingredients. Spoon into dishes. Bake for 20 minutes until beginning to brown; garnish with chopped herbs, if desired.

jar tealights

Loved making the table decor with jars: these jars have a glass tea-light holder standing inside the jar. Fern snippings line the jars and the tea-lights brought a delicate ambiance to the table. Who doesn’t love a challenge? What would you make for an all-jar feast? Feast or no: may you find many uses for jars, from fridge to oven to table to mouth… to freezer to cupboard and picnic basket. Wide smile.

This entry was posted in food., menus, recipes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  • bellini said (29 August 2011 at 4:48 am):

    Love the theme of this. I have made cheesecake in a jar, but am inspired to create more.

  • janelle (author) said (29 August 2011 at 8:13 am):

    I think my fave discoveries are the pies and soup. The soup is so, so easy and so, so healthy. I use all sorts of fish and vegetables!

  • Food Jaunts said (29 August 2011 at 5:56 am):

    I love the jar obsession. I’m literally reading your post thinking, “Maybe I should buy some more jars…”

    Plus the food looks amazing!

  • janelle (author) said (29 August 2011 at 8:13 am):

    I know, right? I think I need to build a ‘jar’ room… hehe.

  • Donna said (29 August 2011 at 8:25 am):

    You have won the M-m-m-mm M-m-m-m Good Marathon!!! All the dreaming-up, the garden-growing, the transporting, the planning and prepping and chopping, the flexibility in 3 kitchens, the photo shoots, and the writing. Whew!!!

  • Cyndy Earnshaw said (29 August 2011 at 8:31 am):

    “Jarred: Tarragon Salmon Chowder”
    Is this missing the Salmon and any additional ingredients??

  • Cyndy Earnshaw said (29 August 2011 at 8:34 am):

    Sorry, I see now to place (2-3 pieces of salmon,) in the instructions. TY!

  • janelle (author) said (29 August 2011 at 2:05 pm):

    Cyndy: I am so, so glad you caught that. I just updated—was missing a few ingredients (not surprised, it was late-night and the last recipe I uploaded—hehe). DO try it—it is delish!

  • Sharon said (29 August 2011 at 9:15 am):

    my mom was doing this in the 50’s and her mom in the 40’s they did look as good for sure these are great.

  • Teresa said (29 August 2011 at 9:41 am):

    Wow!! What a fabulous feast. I now have “jar envy”….Love it!!

  • janelle (author) said (29 August 2011 at 2:04 pm):

    Yes, and if it had been in Seattle… ;). Time to come up with another menu theme for the next party!

  • Hannah said (29 August 2011 at 12:07 pm):

    LOVE your jar theme (and your beautiful photos)! I’m not sure which recipe I should try first, they all look so good. Pie in a Jar seems to be calling my name … :)

  • janelle (author) said (29 August 2011 at 2:03 pm):

    Yes to pie in a jar!!! And maybe the artichoke dip; sometimes I stand at my counter and inhale with crackers… my latest ‘quick lunch’ 😉

  • Seb@Something Interesting said (29 August 2011 at 12:25 pm):

    What a great article, photos and theme.

  • Chiara @ The Wandering Cook said (30 August 2011 at 2:49 am):

    Wow, I’m so impressed! Everything looks amazing… wish I could have been there for your party in a jar!

  • Sprigs of Rosemary said (30 August 2011 at 4:16 am):

    How wonderfully creative of you! A whole party jarred! I’m intrigued by the salmon chowder most of all. I’m canning hot peppers today!

  • Joan Nova said (30 August 2011 at 6:54 am):

    Fun idea…and interesting choices. Well done!

  • Karen @ SiciLean said (30 August 2011 at 8:29 pm):

    This is genius! The question is, where am I going to put all of the jars that I’m now planning to buy…as it is, the Tupperware/rubbermaid containers are taking over my kitchen. But I must try some of these!

  • Kate said (31 August 2011 at 7:12 am):

    Nice theme!! Where do you store all those jars though??!!

  • janelle said (31 August 2011 at 8:08 am):

    Chiara: Party in a Jar: fantastic name!
    Rosemary: love peppers in a jar!
    Joan: Thank you!!!
    Karen: hehe. THAT is the question. Tupperware replacement therapy??
    Kate: I think I need a jar room!! Or closet!! Or something!! You would laugh if you saw them right now… I def. need a storage solution;).

  • Barb said (2 September 2011 at 5:33 am):

    Oh thiis does look so fun! I’m not sure with ‘jar recipe’ to try first!

    I love canning jars – especially the old ones with the blue-ish color to the glass! I only have a couple of those, but I love them.

  • janelle (author) said (2 September 2011 at 1:25 pm):

    Barb: I love the old blue jars too. And the glass lids: have you seen those? I also just scored some of those flip-top kind and bought replacement rubber rings… ;)))

  • Lynn said (2 September 2011 at 7:05 am):

    Love this post! You’ve inspired me to try the pie-in-a-jar. My family will love that! I just made the red pepper jelly and they think you are the bomb for that one. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • janelle (author) said (2 September 2011 at 1:24 pm):

    Lynn: fantastic! Thanks for commenting;) and I adore that you made the red pepper jelly almost as much as I love being the bomb!

  • Jennifer Crain said (3 September 2011 at 11:22 pm):

    Oh my gosh. What a beautiful post. I’m a fellow jar enthusiast, ever since a friend gave me several boxes and they revolutionized my pantry. Since then, I’ve used them to pack snacks and lunches for the park, to store leftovers, to hold colored pencils at the art table, to capture spiders…the possibilities are endless! Love, love knowing you can cook in them, too. This looks like such a fun meal. Thanks for sharing!

  • janelle (author) said (4 September 2011 at 10:25 am):

    Jennifer: hello and thank you! I know, right? Jars are the best!!! So glad they had as big an impact on you as they did me! Makes me smile.

  • Sunday Night From the Food in Jars Flickr Pool | Food in Jars said (4 September 2011 at 9:15 pm):

    […] as part of the mis en place for Janelle‘s all-jar dinner party on Talk of […]

  • Jake said (5 September 2011 at 9:24 am):

    As I sit here & read your post I can’t help but think, “I’m not alone!”

    What a lovely post offering an homage to the most beautiful jars & all that you are able to create with them. Thank you so very much for not only your creativity but for sharing with all of us your love for those delight jars that bring so very much to a home.

  • Stacy said (5 September 2011 at 12:35 pm):

    What a great idea! I have been canning all summer in Tennessee and my family gets to enjoy the results. :) Would love to have them join in the fun by bringing a list of ” surprise” ingredients to a dinner and seeing how it all comes together.

  • Kathleen said (6 September 2011 at 10:54 am):

    Loving this posting. So, I’ve always been afraid of baking in jars as I’ve had a couple of experiences where the jar/glassware broke in the oven. Any ideas why that happened?

  • janelle (author) said (6 September 2011 at 1:26 pm):

    Jake: oh good! You are definitely not alone!!! ;). Thank you for your kind words—you made my day!
    Stacy: you have a lucky family! would love to know some of your favorite preserves;). My list keeps growing!
    Kathleen: lol I had one break just yesterday—in the hot water bath/while canning! Make sure you use preserving/canning jars. Not all jars are created equal. If you use canning jars, you should be fine. Also: try heating your jars before introducing them to high heat. For instance with canning: you warm the jars, warm the sauce THEN put in hot water – partly so the jars won’t break. Mine broke, though, because it was quite an old jar;). I just tossed it and started over;).

  • Spiceblogger said (11 September 2011 at 6:14 pm):

    I absolutely LOVE this post! I adore how you rescue lonely forgotten jars and put them to good use! And what a menu! I’m intrigued by each and every dish!

    I also recycle and reuse every jar I come in contact with 😉 I think it’s smart and thrifty and can even be beautiful. But I’ve never cooked in them. This I will definitely have to try!
    Thank you for sharing your talents!


  • janelle (author) said (9 October 2011 at 5:00 pm):

    Spiceblogger: so glad you stopped by and said hello! Sounds like you have as much affection for jars as I do! Salute!!!

  • Talk of Tomatoes | foodbuzz 24×24 beyond the eggs: culling and cooking your urban hens said (26 February 2012 at 10:19 pm):

    […] when selected. You can read my previous 24×24 meals here: 1. an all white wintry meal, 2. an all-jar feast, 3. returning to America (after a year abroad) and 4. my experience cooking in a farmhouse in […]

  • Relish Blogs – 5 Raisin Dessert Recipes for the Holidays said (1 January 2013 at 9:25 am):

    […] pies in jars are all the rage. I created a whole meal from jars once—a fantastic challenge—and I especially love individual pies baked in tiny jars. Use the […]