4 meals you can cook in mason jars

When cooking or baking, it’s just as important to think about a dish’s aesthetic value as its overall taste. To this end, plenty of chefs have tried various tricks, from random garnishes to cooking with especially colorful ingredients. More and more, some kitchen gurus are opting for another method entirely: cooking and presenting meals within mason jars. Though the medium presents its own unique culinary challenges, it does make for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Here are a few of those dishes – or should we say jars?

Mason jar parfait
As many of us can attest, mornings are often the most hectic times of day. So, why not cut reduce the stress with a quick and easy parfait? These fast and easy recipes epitomize why mason jars are gaining popularity in the kitchen. To begin, you’ll need granola, Greek yogurt or oatmeal, and chopped fruit; almost any kind will do, but peaches, apples, strawberries, mangos and blueberries are among the tastier options. From there, just layer the ingredients to your own preferences. Love granola? Make a few layers of it. Rather opt for extra yogurt? Use granola as a base and pile other ingredients accordingly.

Mason jar salad
Whether as a nice side dish or the main course, a mason jar salad is a great way to enjoy some greens while on the go. To avoid soggy ingredients beforehand, it’s important to stack the ingredients in a certain way. Always start with the dressing and those ingredients that are either the heaviest and/or least absorbent. So, for instance, you might start with corn, peas, tomatoes and croutons and then end with the actual spinach on top. It’s also a good idea to use a wide mouth jar when making a salad; these will allow more space to mix the salad beforehand and are great for accommodating the average fork.

Mason jar pizza
Is it still a pizza if it’s not flat and circular? Mason jar pizzas offer a fresh experience on the classic experience, presenting the same great taste combinations but in a new layout. Most recipes call for a basic cheese pizza, though meats like sausage and pepperoni are an option. Like the breakfast, it’s all about how the dish stacks; dough and sauce go first, followed by any meats and cheeses. These pizzas can even be cooked in the jar itself, which usually takes 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a good idea to cook the jars as they’re submerged in water, as it helps to cook the entire pizza more evenly.

Mason jar cake or pie
Even dessert itself is getting new life thanks to mason jars. Much like pizza, most cakes and pies can be baked within the jar itself, which not only cuts back on cleaning but helps control serving sizes. However, there are a few points to be aware of. Given the nature of the batter, it’s a good idea to spray the jar with a non-stick coating beforehand. Also, be mindful of how much batter is actually used: For the standard-sized mason jar, only use about a quarter of a cup, as batter does tend to expand. Standard cakes might seem the most obvious, but even apple and pumpkin pie are options. Again, though, just be aware of how much fruit filling is used.

Play around with more mason jar meals after enrolling in a culinary arts program.

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