The mason jar lunch trend is a favorite of mine, especially for the Summer fruit and garden veggies. I like to use the jars for refrigerator storage as well.
My container garden is in full production mode with delicious fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits.
I find that storing my fresh produce in the glass mason jars keeps them much nicer than plastic containers. I like the glass, it cleans so well in the dishwasher so you know you have a sparkling pristine storage solution. No matter how well you clean the plastic zip lock/tupperware types of containers they seem to have a film. I find that using the glass containers prolongs the life of fresh fruit and vegetables.
I take a few moments to prep all of my fruits, herbs and vegetables as soon as I harvest them or return from the roadside Amish farm markets with my bounty of Summer delights. The clean jars are filled, packing them tightly because the less exposure to air the better.
My fridge is brimming with ready to use containers, just grab and go. Caprese salad - tomato, cuke and onion salad with fresh herbs - tuna with tomatoes, cauliflower and a little Amish ranch dressing - garden kirby cukes, celery, carrots and tomatoes with red onion and balsamic olive oil dressing - strawberries and kiwi - mixed melon - watermelon - bing cherries - blueberries - vibrant colors sparkling like gems.
Whatever is in season works wonderfully. With fruits, I just fill the jars with ready to eat servings. Sometimes I mix them for a fruit medley but I also love the simplicity of a jar filled with just one fruit at the peak of their season. Picnics and enjoying dinner on the back deck is so delightful. It is convenient to just fill up a tray with the refrigerated fruits providing refreshing deserts - pretty, too!
In the fall and winter it is nice to include some pasta along with the veggies as well as heavier components like quinoa, barley, grains, corn, garbanzo or mixed beans, broiled chicken or turkey cut into bite sized pieces, ham or bacon, tuna and tasty dressings. I pack my homemade soups, single serving sizes, in the jars as well. The jars work fine in the microwave, of course, you would not microwave metal lids if you use them.
Today I have an abundance of tomatoes, herbs, peppers and cukes from my garden. Heirloom varieties of vintage wine, oliver green, balconi yellows, red grape, cherry and romas - as well as vibrant spicy globe basil, rosemary, mints, sage and oregano.
Coupled with flavorful fresh homemade mozzarella cheese balls from my Amish cheese house - I believe a classic caprese salad is in order!
Chiffonade the basil by rolling the leaves tightly and cutting in thin strips with a sharp knife so you don't bruise the delicate herb. Combining the basil with a fragrant, high quality olive oil will make a perfect accompaniment to the juicy tomatoes and mellow cheese. I usually don't add salt until ready to eat as the salt tends to macerate the items, I prefer to add a coarse ground gray sea salt.
Layer the basil oil mixture in the bottom of the jar, followed with the fresh cheese with a nice grinding of coarse black pepper and top it off with an assortment of garden tomatoes just picked from the vine. With full flavor, quality ingredients all you need is the uncomplicated basics and allow the stars of the summer garden to shine.
Paired with a crusty french baguette or crostini and you have the perfect summer lunch.
Assembling up the jars is pretty straightforward. If you are using a dressing, place it in the bottom of the jar. The next layer should be something that can remain in the dressing without being compromised - carrots, cauliflower, celery, meats, beans and grains are good choices. Follow by medium hardness veggies like cukes, onions,bean sprouts and tomatoes. Finally, if you are using leaf lettuces, spinach and delicate greens, add them to the top so they stay crisp. When you are ready to eat you can shake the jar to distribute the dressing or turn the jar out onto your salad plate and enjoy. Make up a week's worth at a time and you won't be tempted to pick up fast food, it will be ready when you are.
I purchased the white plastic lids for my jars. I prefer them to the metal rings. They do well in the dishwasher and don't leak in transport. I also prefer the wide mouth jars for ease of use.
I hope you'll try mason jar lunches. You can even do breakfasts or desserts with layers of cookie or graham crackers followed by cheesecake and fruit, granola with yogurt, cake and puddings. Layered mason jars are great for dry pantry storage as well. Shopping at the bulk food Amish markets I can stock up on nuts, sesame sticks, assortments of pretzels, dried fruits and granola. I use small jars and create layered snacks as well. Whatever you like is easily prepped and stored for your convenience. Enjoy!
Thanks for visiting,
By CherryPrairie on 09/11/2014 @ 01:03amWhat good ideas! I use mason jars all the time for other things but haven't tried the layered salads yet. I'll have to make some while I still have cherry tomatoes and basil in my garden.