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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  • I am not a big pie person (unless it's chocolate pie – preferably from Marie Calendar's), but I do like apple pie. And I love to bake. And I love the squatty little jars. 🙂

  • QuirkyMomma

    Those jars look so yummy! Really, I'm going to make some just as soon as I can find the jars!

  • I love this idea! So cute and practical for a picnic.

    thanks for sharing

  • I have an uncle that loves apple pie. I could make a pile of these for him.

  • Love this!! I make crisps and bread puddings in my cast iron skillet all the time, but as you say, typically too much! I also picked up some homemade blackberry jam at a retirement home rummage sale and I am inspired to try canning this year.

  • Do it! It's really not so hard once you've got all the tools. Making the jam is much harder than the actual canning.

  • becshulba

    this looks AMAZING! and i love crisps! i can't wait to try this – gotta go find some jars! thanks for sharing.

  • Tracy

    I freeze my regular apple crisps for up to a year, so I imagine these would be the same. So I guess the glass doesn't shatter when you put it from freezer to oven? Or do you need to dethaw the crisps first?

  • I turn the oven on after I put the frozen crisps inside so that the oven and the crisps heat up gradually and there isn't a big thermal shock and I haven't had any trouble so far. I also looked around on the web and couldn't find one example of someone who'd had a canning jar shatter. I would never try this with a regular glass jar though.

  • megan

    This is great! My husband hates sweets but adores pie, so I'm going to make a batch for him for Father's Day. Perfect!

    And your Biggest Loser comment made me laugh. What is with that show? Every time they start talking about food I get hungry. I can't tell you how many times I've run to the kitchen for a bowl of ice cream five minutes after the show started because I'm suddenly starving!

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  • Jenandjeffrey

    I tried the chicken pot pie idea and the entire family loved it…kids ages 2 1/2 and 5 1/2 ate them up. They get so golden and crispy.

  • This is an awesome tutorial, Wendy. You know I can't wait to try it.

  • this is a fabulous idea!

  • I love this! I never made the pie in the jar because it looked like too much crust for me also – but you've solved it by turning this into a crisp! Perfect. Thank you.

  • Really cool idea! I might try these… :))

  • I loved the pie idea, and the crisp idea is even better! My hubby is a big fan of crisps, so this post is getting a star. Now, if only the cherries would ripen on our trees.. I would love to give this a try with our fresh fruit!

  • This is just brilliant! Thanks for the idea.

  • Oh my. Must. buy. more. jars.

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  • Amie

    OK, I have had this on my mind since you first posted this and I have searched high and low for the jars (I was trying to buy local). And as a side note Ball does not make a half pint wide mouth only Kerr does. Sooooo, my jars arrive from Amazon tomorrow morning and I have all the ingredients ready to go. My boys and I will have a wonderful project for tomorrow afternoon. I will post again to let you know how it goes. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lnmferg

    What a great idea! I've made the pies in a jar for my in-laws as a Christmas present and they loved it, but I have to say, the most tedious part was dealing with the crust. Glad to know I can forego that part!


    y, I made the pie in the jar recently and it was too much crust. Next round I'm doing crisps!

  • Barbara

    Thank you so much! I have a diabetic husband so I go without pie, and I WILL make these for myself! I do miss dessert to have once in a while! I will even try some for him using Splenda and Clear Gel!

  • Heather

    These look so yummy I featured them check it out and grab a button if you like.

  • Love this! I saw this on best bites too-but I will ahve to try yours!!

  • Emily

    I love this, thanks for sharing! The day after I read the post, my dad gave me a HUGE bag of rhubarb – now have a freezer full of individual rhubarb crisps!

  • This might be a silly question, but do you take the lid off before baking it?

  • Not a silly questions at all, since I never said in the post! [slapping forehead] Thanks for asking!

    Yes! You need to take the lid off before baking. I’m going to go edit the post right now!

  • Terri

    just had to reply here, i am so thankful you posted this recipe! I told my best friend about it and right this moment I have peach/cinnamon crisps in the oven!!!

  • Bekki1820cb

    This is awesome! I am so going to make these for Christmas Gifts this year! I love a nice crumbly streusal top…and I feel the same way about crust…sometimes you can have too much and it just overpowers the fruit. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sacredlrose

    I love this idea! Are the lids reusable? I know after canning they are not and was not sure if its the same case for freezing. Thanks!

  • I use lids that I’ve already used for canning for this. Because you’re not actually preserving the crisps via canning you can use the lids over and over in the freezer. I probably wouldn’t use them for canning applications though even if you started with new lids though.

  • Ldychef2k

    I can apple pie filling in quarts. I wonder if you could WBC some pie filling in the jars and then add the crisp topping and bake briefly to serve?

  • BD

    I’m hosting a dinner at the park for my son’s Cross Country team. I want to make pies for them so I won’t be freezing them. How will that affect cooking time?

  • If you’re looking to make pies, you should probably check out this link which was the inspiration for my crisps:

  • Oh this is the perfect idea! Only a few members of my family like berry pie or strudel, so I never make it, cuz part of it goes to waste (or to my hips). This is the perfect solution, not just to make them this way, but to freeze them and go from freezer to oven. I love to make things in small batches and freeze them later when I don’t have time and this fits right into that.

    I imagine they’d be great as a food ministry item too, cuz you can then make them up and just pull out how ever many you need to bless a family or even a single person in need. My grandmother would always make pies to give as housewarming and hostess gifts, and this would work as a great timesaver for that too.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Anna Frazier

    Any idea how long they stay good unfrozen? I would like to give them as Christmas gifts but obviously they would thaw while wrapped and waiting to be opened. Is it okay to freeze them again after they have thawed? Or should I not even freeze them to begin with?

  • Liz

    What a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing.

  • Liz

    p.s. I added your ’48 Homemade Gift Ideas in a Jar {Recipes} — Tip Junkie’ link on my blog post.

  • I don’t actually know the answer to this question because I’ve only ever taken them directly from freezer to oven. If it were me, I probably wouldn’t freeze them to begin with, but that would limit how far ahead you could make them. Good luck!

  • Clistyb

    well, hello Christmas neighbor gifts! Sweet, thanks.

  • Mr Aldente

    Great idea Wendy

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  • Karen Beagles

    What a fun idea! I’m going to give it a try! Thanks for the delicious tutorial!

  • Isabel Weddingplanner

    I just love this idea! I am a pie lover myselfe and i love baking. Besides this is a great idea for wedding give away. Waiting for more delicious inspirations.

  • Suzy

    This is a brilliant idea! I love it and can’t wait to try it myself.

  • Firstly, although that recipe may look heavy on the sugar do not be tempted to reduce, omit or substitute the sugar with low calorie alternatives. High sugar levels preserve food because they protect against microbial invasions by drawing water out of the microbes, causing them to shrivel up and die. Without adequate sugar in your recipe you risk your chutney spoiling and even food poisoning.

  • Erica Reed2010

    Anyone have any luck baking and then sealing them?  (As opposed to sealing/freezing and THEN baking them)  I’d love to make these for a bake sale next weekend – but need to/would like to make them now since I won’t have time as the week goes on….

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