Food preservation is a lot of work at the time – you won’t find much disagreement with that statement. There are a few things you can do to lighten the mood, like canning with friends or enjoying a beer while you make your own homebrew. Due to my hard work this fall, my winter cupboards are still stocked with the delicious flavors of summer.

The small pints of jams and jellies always get well used. I drop dollops into plain yogurt, make sandwiches, use on my breakfast breads and even fill cake layers with. Jams especially are so easy to make and so fun to pick fruit in preparation for. About half of my berries make it home with me and the process of mixing with sugar and boiling down takes less than an hour.

The asian pear cider we made this fall keeps getting better and better. It is slightly sweet, adequately carbonated, and really smooth to drink. I wasn’t able to test the alcohol content, but I would say it’s pretty strong. You can’t taste how strong it is though, which is a bit sneaky.

I thought I was canning too much marinara sauce this season. With access to the Urban Farm‘s tomatoes in exchange for farm labor, I came home with buckets and buckets of rich San Marzanos – perhaps the best sauce tomato – all of which was put away. Learning from years past, I am “grocery shopping at home” before I run to the store. That means I take an inventory of what I have to meal plan around what needs to be used. This week it was a lovely lasagna that used a quart of marinara and some frozen, roasted red peppers that I saved from the summer. Deliciousness.

Seed catalogs are pouring in! Meanwhile school has started for the term and I am trying to keep my head above water. More food in the cupboards means I don’t need to worry too much about how I can stay healthy this winter.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson