How to Pack Great Salads in a Jar

Several years ago, when I went from being an ovo-lacto vegetarian (eating dairy and eggs) to a very high raw vegan, and then started health coaching, I bought a good supply of quart-sized, wide-mouth Mason Jars.

I used them mostly for storing green smoothies, and soon found them valuable for many other kitchen uses.

These days we store all manner of whole grains, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds in them, and recently have starting packing salads in them. What a treat! They are the perfect home for salads, whether you want to eat them at home, or pack them to work or for a longer car trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Mason Jar Salads have, in fact, become a “thing” recently. I suspect that even more people would enjoy them if they had some of their questions answered about them. Let me address some of the FAQs before we move on to the “how-to.”

How do the greens not get soggy?

The basic idea when packing salads in a jar is to start with the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients with the dressing on the bottom of the jar and work your way up  through the lighter ingredients, with the greens being last.  As long as the jar doesn’t tip over before you’re ready to eat, the greens will be protected from the moisture and be relatively crisp when you are.

How does everything get mixed together?

When it’s time to eat, just unscrew the cap and shake the salad into a bowl. This shaking, which may be vigorous depending on how packed the ingredients are, helps to toss the salad with the dressing. Once it’s all in a bowl, you can toss it a bit more with a fork if it needs it.

Is there a best jar to use?

Any canning jar can be used. I like the wide-mouthed ones for ease with both packing and shaking out the ingredients.  Pint-sized jars are nice for smaller salads with fewer ingredients. Quart -sized ones are better for larger lunch and dinner salads that have more vegetables and other salad treats. Two-quart jars (or larger) are great if you’re going to a potluck or cookout.

How long will jars of salad keep in the refrigerator?

Good news. If the lid is sealed well, these salads are happy for possibly days in the refrigerator. This is great for planning your work week of lunches and getting them all prepared the weekend before. Perishable ingredients and soft ingredients like avocado and tomatoes, (and hard boiled eggs and meat if you use them), should be added the day you plan to eat the salad.  If you have a vacuum sealer, it can help keep the greens and vegetables crisper for longer.

How to Put a Mason Jar Salad Together

It’s all about the layers, as I suggested above.

– Pour 1-4 Tbs of your favorite salad dressing in the bottom of the jar.  This amount is totally adjustable depending on the salad and your own preferences.

– The first food layer is made up of the more “juicy” produce, like zucchini noodles, sweet potato, cut tomatoes, red and green peppers, carrots, celery and the like and the like

– Next, add layers of less moist, but not wet, fruits and vegetables, such as grated carrots, corn kernels, berries, whole cherry tomatoes, etc. These items are sturdy enough to not get crushed, and dry enough to keep the greens, yet to come, dry.

– Nuts and seeds come next, such as almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. Cooked grains, if you use them, like quinoa or millet, can also be added here.

– Finally, top it all off with as much dark leafy greens, including some fresh cut herbs, as you can get into the jar. It’s the most valuable in terms of deliverable nutrients, so be generous. Tear them into bit-sized pieces first, and then pack the jar fairly completely.

Here’s a tip. Some people prefer to put nuts in seeds last, after the greens. They make some significant noise as the salad is being tossed in the jar before being poured into your waiting bowl. When they stop making noise, you’ll know that the dressing is pretty well distributed throughout the salad.

The combinations for salads are endless and presenting them in jars not only makes the greens and other ingredients stay fresh, (which helps reduce waste), but the salads are also visually appealing. In turn, we end up eating more fruit and vegetables than if the produce was kept in our refrigerator drawers. The thirty minutes you spend preparing a week’s worth of salads will be time well spent.

Here are a couple of salads to get you started.

Pomegranate and Pear Salad

Paradise in a Jar Salads.

Enjoy these and then start creating your own.

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