Crisp In a Jar

by Wendy Copley on June 16, 2010

Crisp in a Jar

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to the utterly brilliant concept of individual pies in jars. The idea is that you line canning jars with pie crust, add filling and then freeze the jars until you’re ready to bake them. You can make a whole bunch and cook them all at once, or you can bake one or two at a time as you like.

I was immediately smitten with the idea. I love to bake and I really love fruit pies, but I find that a whole pie is just too much for our family to handle. Either we eat too much pie in a very short time or we show restraint and half a pie goes to waste because it goes bad before it all gets eaten. Having single serve pies in the freezer is the solution to all our pie-related problems!

Then I made them and I discovered a problem that my friend Frank warned me about as soon as I prematurely trumpeted my love for pies in jars to the world: too much crust. I like pie crust all right, but when I made these I felt like I was mostly eating crust with just a little pie.

My solution: ditch the crust, throw on some streusel topping and make fruit crisp instead. Crisp! In a Jar!

And honestly, I’ve always liked crisp better than pie anyway. You get lots and lots of delicious fruit and a nice helping of crunchy yummy-osity to make it even better.

Here’s what you do:

The Jars

First things first: you’re going to need some canning jars. Canning jars will hold up to both the cold of the freezer and the heat of the oven. I like the wide-mouth half pints because they’re shallow enough to eat out of easily and the large surface area at the top allows for lots of room for the streusel topping. Locally, I’ve been able to find canning jars at hardware stores and some grocery stores. You can find them online too, of course.

Jars (for crisp)

The Fruit Filling

Crisp in a Jar

For the fruit part of the crisp, you’ll need:

  • Fresh or frozen fruit — about 1 cup of fruit per jar
  • 1 tablespoon of white or brown sugar per cup of fruit
  • 1 tablespoon of flour per cup of fruit — a little more for frozen fruit or extra juicy fruit like berries
  • flavorings such as almond extract, nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

You can use all kinds of different fruits for this. So far, I’ve made these crisps with fresh peaches, cherries, blueberries and the frozen mix of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries I used for this batch. To make it worth your time, you’re probably going to want to start off with a minimum of 4 cups of chopped fruit which will make 4 individual crisps.

Crisp in a Jar

If you’re using frozen fruit, give it a rinse to thaw it a bit and let it sit to drain for a few minutes. This will get rid of some of the excess juice.

If you’re using fresh fruit, peel as appropriate and chop it into bite-sized pieces.

Crisp in a Jar

Next, add in your flour and sugar. For super juicy fruit I’d use a ratio of 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour for each cup of fruit, rather than 1 tablespoon to 1 cup.

Crisp in a Jar

Stir it all up. If you want to add extra flavorings, now is the time to do it. I put 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in this batch. I’ve made other batches with no extra flavorings and they were equally delicious. Really, the fruit should be the star here.

Crisp in a Jar

Fill the jars up to the line just below the screw rings. This will give you plenty of space for the topping.

The Topping

For the streusel topping you will need:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

This will make a boat-load of topping. If you’re only making a few jars of crisp, you can put the extra in a ziploc bag and save it for another batch or you can just make half as much.

Crisp in a Jar

Mix all the dry stuff together.

Crisp in a Jar

Cut the butter up into little cubes. The butter should be cold.

Crisp in a Jar

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender. When you get sick of futzing around with it and getting nowhere, you can just use your bare hands to pinch the butter into the mixture.

Crisp in a Jar

When it’s ready, it should look like wet sand with oatmeal in it.

Crisp in a Jar

Take a hand full of the topping and press it evenly onto the top of the fruit. I measured just for you and discovered that this is about 1/3 cup. I like a nice thick layer so I pack it right up to the top of the jar, but you might prefer a little less, so use your best judgment.

The Freezing

Crisp in a Jar

Now, put on the lid and pop it into the freezer. I’m honestly not sure how long these will last because none of the ones I’ve made have stayed in our freezer longer than a week, but I’m guessing you could keep these at least three months — maybe longer.

The Baking

When you’re ready to bake one (or more) of the crisps, pull it out of the freezer, take off the lid, stick it on a baking sheet and put it in the oven. The canning jars should be able to take the change from cold to hot just fine, but since I’m a little worried about the jars breaking from thermal shock I prefer to put the sheet with the jars on it into the oven before I turn it on and let them heat up gradually as the oven gets hot. I set the oven to 375 degrees and the timer to 40 minutes and they come out perfectly every time.

Crisp in a Jar

Once you pull the jars out of the oven, you should probably let them sit for about 10 minutes or until they’re cool enough to handle. I like them piping hot, so I’ve been known to hold one with a potholder while I eat it.

Watch this video to see this process in action:

Some good uses for crisps in jars:

  • Impress and delight your friends with a delicious dessert when you invite them over for dinner on the spur of the moment.
  • Pull one out of the freezer and bake it so you can have something yummy to eat when you’re watching The Biggest Loser.
  • Bring one to a friend who’s having a bad day.
  • Make one for the kids to split when a friend comes over for a play date. These are just the right size for two kids to share and they get a kick out of eating from the same bowl…er…jar. (This obviously won’t work for germaphobes or best friends who bicker a lot.)
  • I’ve heard that pies, cakes and cobblers in jars go over really well at bake sales, so maybe you could give that a shot?

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  • Sheila F

    Mine sealed easily. I screwed the bands and lids on when they came out of the oven and in a few minutes I heard them pop–all of them. I also used a packaged sugar cookie recipe crumbled on the top of each one instead of making the crisp.

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  • Joy

    Has anyone had a jar break in the freezer because of being so full?  Just worried about the filling expanding.

  • I haven’t had a jar break yet and I haven’t heard of this happening to anyone else either. If you’re worried, you might want to leave an half inch or so of space at the top of the jar.

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  • Tricia

    did you store them for any lenght of time this way? Thanks

  • Christineelizabeth8

    Can I send this baked to Afghanistan ? I’m not sure if he has an oven accessible he does have a microwave tho

  • Erica Reed2010

    I know several people who have sent “cakes in a jar” to Afghanistan but since these have so much moisture in them… I would personally be a little hesitant.  What is the mail time like these days?  Years ago it would take 3-4 weeks to get there.  When I was in Iraq a few years ago, it took less than a week.  If mail is going quickly – it might be ok.  I would bake them completely for sure… and follow canning protocols re: sterilizing the jars/lids/etc.  As soon as they come out of the oven – put the lids on and let them seal.  Use a flat rate priority box and pad well.

  • BJ

    Do you think I could prepare these on Wednesday to bake and serve Friday night without freezing them?

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  • Brandi

    I have a baby shower to host soon. I am not much of a baker when it comes to pies and fruits. My questions for the experienced pie makersirate… 1) can you use premade apple filling and just add a dash of cinnamon? 2) if not, how long do you need to bake the apples to be tender and how much cinnamon is sufficient for each jar? I think these would make great favors and I would like to make about 30. Thanks!

  • Just a quick question, it says 
    4 cups of chopped fruit which will make 4 individual crisps. Is that correct?

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  • Kay

    this sounds like a great idea! i want to possibly send this to my bf overseas on deployment right now because he loves blueberry crisps but mailing usually takes about at least a week. is there anyway i can can it or preserve it so it will last longer? any suggestions?

  • Hi Kay — I’m sorry but I don’t have any suggestions for preserving these outside of freezing them. Outside of making jam here and there, I’ve never really done any preserving but I know the crisp topping isn’t a good idea for a water bath technique. Good luck finding a treat to send your boyfriend! I’m glad you’re planning something special for him!

  • L C Bell

    I wonder how long takes to freeze and her video ingredient measurements are different than the printed one. I have some in freezer, but I think I would put less fruit and more crisp. For example she says 1/3 cup flour for topping yet it says 3/4 cup flour in the printed part.

  • Hi — You are correct that the measurements for the crisp topping are different in the video than they are in the recipe listed up above. That’s because I cut the topping recipe in half so that the amounts for the topping and the fruit would come out a bit more evenly.

  • L C Bell

    I just put mine in the oven and I froze them for about 5 hours. How long do they take to cool, I can’t wait to try them. I went by four jars and did the topping that was not in the video. Which one do you prefer? The video amounts or the recipe amounts? Thanks!

  • L C Bell

    made them last night, froze for about 5 hours and they were EXCELLENT!!!!!! I think I may try it with a bigger mason wide mouth jar next time, it is a small dessert for my husband, he was asking for the other ones LOL. I wonder how long this would take to cook in a larger jar with a wide mouth. Like a pint size. Thoughts?

  • L C Bell

    ok second night, my husband is addicted. EXCELLENT

  • Carol

    Can the desserts be baked immediately? Is there a reason for freezing them first?

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  • Aaron Alderson

    has any one baked this then put in the freezer for a quick bake later. if so how did it work out and how long did you re-bake for

  • Hi Aaron — I do this all the time and I outline how to bake these straight from the freezer under the “Baking” section of the post:

    “When you’re ready to bake one (or more) of the crisps, pull it out of
    the freezer, take off the lid, stick it on a baking sheet and put it in
    the oven. The canning jars should be able to take the change from cold
    to hot just fine, but since I’m a little worried about the jars breaking
    from thermal shock I prefer to put the sheet with the jars on it into
    the oven before I turn it on and let them heat up gradually as the oven
    gets hot. I set the oven to 375 degrees and the timer to 40 minutes and
    they come out perfectly every time.”

    It’s a terrific to have them on hand for a nice treat!

  • Ah wait! I just reread your question and see that I read it wrong! I haven’t actually tried baking first and reheating. I’d be curious to see if anyone has insight on this.

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