30 Ways to Use Up a Jar of Preserves

Right now there are approximately 457 varieties of jelly, jam, and fruit butter in my refrigerator, all in various stages of decomposition. My husband loves jam on toast for breakfast. He eats it every day. Unfortunately, he belongs to the "Why own one when you can own the entire collection?" camp of people. He's constantly scraping the moldy top off of his morning bread sweetener, a habit I find stomach-churning. Also, his proclivity to buy more food than he can possibly eat makes me slightly crazy. I hate wasting food. "Can I help it if I crave variety?" he tells me.

So I've become an expert at using up small amounts of jam by putting it…

… in pretty much everything. Here are 30 ways you can do the same.

1. Flavor Your Own Yogurt

Here's what your strawberry-flavored yogurt should contain: milk, live probiotic yogurt cultures, and strawberries. Here's what a very common brand of yogurt contains: cultured pasteurized Grade A low fat milk, sugar, strawberries, modified corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, nonfat milk, kosher gelatin, citric acid, tricalcium phosphate, natural flavor, pectin, carmine, vitamin A Acetate, and vitamin D3.

For a better, more nutritious version of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, add some of your favorite jam or marmalade to plain yogurt of your choosing. Your tongue and your wallet will thank you.

2. Blend It Into Smoothies

Do you prefer to drink your yogurt on the way to work? Add jam to sweeten your breakfast shake.

3. Pair It With Ice Cream

Fold your favorite jam into ice cream to create custom flavors or simply use it as a sundae topping.

4. Make Popsicles

Add leftover fruit preserves to juice or milk to add both flavor and texture to homemade popsicles.

5. Bake Thumbprint Cookies

For what amounts to basically a drop cookie, thumbprint cookies are surprisingly glamorous. They are a great, colorful addition to holiday gift baskets.

6. Whip Up Easy Bar Cookies for Bake Sales

Did you fall off the school email list? Did your child forget to tell you about the bake sale happening today? Are you facing a charity auction buffet table deadline? Bust out this top-rated bar cookie recipe, for easy, speedy baking. To up-sell your homemade cookies, use this tip from a Wise Bread reader: Put the bake sale cookies on a pretty thrift store plate for added value.

7. Fill Pop Tarts

Once you make your own Pop-Tarts, you'll never want to go back to store bought toaster pastries. Personally, I like to make my own crust, but even the most novice bakers can handle this four-ingredient recipe that uses pre-made pie crust.

8. Improve Your Cheese Plate Game

Instead of using apples or grapes as cheese accompaniments, put the dregs of your jam collection into pretty dishes, and serve them with cheese and crackers. Your guests don't have to know that they are helping you clean out your refrigerator.

9. Replicate My Mother-in-Law's Go-To Appetizer

My mother-in-law is not a brilliant cook, but you wouldn't know that from her baked Brie cheese appetizer. Here's the Top Secret recipe:

Line a jellyroll or cake pan with parchment. Place a wheel of Brie cheese in the center of the pan. Pour one jar of apricot jam over the cheese. Bake in the oven on parchment at 400 degrees until the cheese softens, taking care not to burn the jam. Remove the jam-topped cheese from the oven and slide the whole shebang onto a serving dish. Liberally sprinkle the top with sliced almonds. Serve with French bread.

Or, if you are alone, eat the jam and cheese with a spoon out of the pan while binge watching Orange is the New Black. Not that I've ever done this personally, or anything.

10. "It's Chinese Food If I Make It" Orange Chicken

My Chinese grandfather owned a Chinese restaurant in Denver for 40 years. Unable to source many authentic ingredients, he would regularly invent entrees that fancy chefs would now refer to as "fusion cuisine" using locally sourced supplies. (And 25 years after his death, I am still trying to replicate his plum sauce BBQ ribs recipe without success). When questioned about his "pan-Coloradan" dishes, he would always reply, "It's Chinese food if I make it." Who can argue with that logic?

My grandfather did make an authentic Cantonese chicken dish that used dried orange peel in a vinegar reduction. However, the dish that friends and neighbors used to beg him to make for potluck dinner parties was his sticky chicken AKA fried chicken glazed with orange marmalade.

11. Fill Crepes

Crepes is a French word meaning, "a fancy, alternative jam delivery system for people who like to eat the preserves straight from the jar."

12. Top Pancakes

Why drive to IHOP when you can replicate their flavored syrups at home?

13. Sweeten Hot Cereal

Jam is not just for toast. Add it to oatmeal or cream of wheat.

14. Stuff French Toast

This is a great thrifty recipe as it uses both stale bread and leftover jam! Make a sandwich out of stale white bread and your favorite fruit preserve. Then soak the sandwich in egg batter before pan-frying it in butter.

15. Turn Breakfast Into Brunch With Croque Monsieur Sandwiches

A croque monsieur is basically the unholy love child of stuffed French toast and a grilled cheese sandwich. Proceed with caution.

16. Make Strawberry Shortcake, No Knife Skills Necessary

Bisquick? Check. Jam? Check. Whipping Cream? Check. This Old Fashioned shortcake recipe graced the first Bisquick box in 1931. Substituting jam for sliced strawberries makes this dessert an easy and safe introduction to baking for kids and adults with terrible knife skills.

17. Dress Up Cheesecake

Let's face it. Cheesecake is a dumpy-looking dessert. The addition of fruit topping will make plain cheesecake look slightly less fug. To make your own fruit glaze, mix jam with water or your favorite liqueur, and heat it on the stovetop until liquid. Brush or pour over plain cheesecake.

18. Tart Up a Tart

Leave it to David Lebovitz to make something delicious out of quince jam! His no-roll crust makes this tart recipe even easier to replicate at home with professional results.

19. Layer a Cake

Why not fill a coconut layer cake with lime marmalade or turn chocolate cake into black forest cake with the cherry jam?

20. Make a Kentucky Jam Cake

Or make a super-moist Kentucky jam cake by adding jam to the batter?

21. Turn Packaged Chocolate Into Fancy Desserts

With the addition of fruit preserves, your dinner party guests will never guess that the chocolate orange mousse was made with pudding mix or the chocolate cherry brownies came from a box.

22. Pavlova: It's Aussie for "Use Up That Jam, Mate"

But, don't tell that to New Zealanders who claim pavlova, flat white coffee, and Phar Lap the famous racehorse as national treasures. Pavlova, a wondrous combination of fruit and meringue, comes in many forms. All of them, delicious.

23. BBQ Chicken With Homemade BBQ Sauce

Mix your favorite jam or marmalade with oil and soy sauce. You've just made a yummy coating for roast chicken.

24. Pour It Over Ham

That same glaze that you use for cake can also be used to glaze ham.

25. Create Your Own Secret Sauce for Beef

Mix jam with vinegar, mustard, and garlic to make your own steak sauce.

26. Add It to Au Jus

Add cranberry sauce to pan gravy to make Thanksgiving leftovers sing. Or, mix blueberry jam into beef gravy for Sunday night's British roast.

27. Make Succulent Pork Loin

Personally, I prefer to substitute leftover cranberry sauce for the blueberry jam in this tenderloin recipe. But really, does the jam flavor even matter if you wrap everything in bacon?

28. Salad Dressing

People love to hate on Rachael Ray, but personally I love her casual cooking style. Why use a salad cruet when you can mix fruit vinaigrette right in the almost empty jam jar? Just add the other ingredients to the jam jar and shake to combine.

29. Stirred, Not Shaken

Speaking of shaking, add fruit preserves to your favorite vodka recipe to make a sweet jamtini. It's cooler than a cosmopolitan.

For gin drinkers, try the jam cocktail. It's the signature drink of Madam Geneva, the famous New York watering hole.

30. Channel Your Inner Betty Draper With Cocktail Meatballs

This classic Minnesota hot dish gets its mid-century comfort food flavor from a secret ingredient: grape jelly.

What is your favorite jam user-upper recipe? Please share a link to your favorite dish with your fellow thrifty cooks in the comments section.

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Guest's picture
Linda Brodsky

I have never known these tricks before! :)