When Life Gives You A (Nearly) Empty Jelly Jar, Make Salad Dressing

Jelly, jam, and fruit preserves are common household ingredients. While you might only think of using these jars of fruity goodness for desserts and sweet-tooth-curbing recipes like PB&J or jam-filled donuts, you might be surprised to discover that the end of every jar of jelly is the beginning of a bright, tart salad dressing recipe.

Using a nearly-empty jar of jelly to make a salad dressing is a clever way to repurpose residual fruit leftovers. By incorporating jelly, jam, or fruit preserves in a salad dressing, you'll achieve a vibrant, subtly-sweet flavor profile that can complement a variety of salads. Sweet, savory, cold, or hot: Homemade dressing is an underrated recipe you'll want to keep making.

Because jellies and jams come in a wide range of flavors, such as berry, citrus, or tropical fruit, using them as a base for salad dressing can introduce a variety of tangy, dynamic flavors you might not get from store-bought dressings. Plus, you can experiment with different jams and combine them with other ingredients for personalized salads that match your unique tastes. Repurposing leftover jam in a salad dressing helps reduce food waste, making it an eco-friendly choice. By taking the time to craft homemade dressing, you can enjoy every last bit of your favorite jam without discarding it, contributing to a more sustainable kitchen routine.

Recipe ideas for jelly jar salad dressing

Now that you won't be throwing out your near-empty jam jar, you'll need some recipes to get the most out of your leftovers. Jam-based salad dressing allows for creative freedom but is best when its sweetness gets balanced by savory or spicy ingredients. 

For a simple summer salad that anyone can enjoy, mix raspberry jelly, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a jar before drizzling it over a simple spinach and feta cheese salad topped with candied pecans for the perfect combination of salty and sweet.

Are you in the mood for a citrusy burst? Combine orange jam, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, ground ginger, salt, and pepper in a jar and toss with mixed greens, grilled chicken, orange slices, and sliced almonds — it's healthy, hearty, and quietly spicy! If berries and citrus aren't your thing, then try shaking up some peach jam with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, basil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper for an arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, and mozzarella. Yes, chef!

You don't have to limit your homemade dressing to salads, either. You can lather this customizable condiment onto sandwiches, drizzle it over roasted vegetables, or use it as a meat, tofu, or veggie marinade. Happy eating!