Jam Tart With Almonds. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Around now — when leaves are falling fast and the offerings at farmers markets are winnowing down to squash and root vegetables — is the time to start counting your pretty jars filled with delicious homemade foods.

Open those curry pickled green beans we canned together in July, during my Canning Class series that ran in the Food section. Ice-cold, they’re a great snack with cheese or cured meat. But how about as a garnish for a dirty martini?

Remember midsummer’s apricots in syrup? Here’s an idea. Blind-bake a tart shell, fill it with mascarpone cheese and nestle those apricot halves on top. Instant (fancy) dessert.

The pantry is your wintertime ally, your recipe resource. Every one of the jars you filled will release a taste of summer — especially the jars of crushed tomatoes. Bolognese, chili, soups and stews will be that much closer at hand.


Antipasto Salad. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Sauerkrauben With Ham Hock, Apple and Caraway (Eisbein) (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Don’t feel left out if you didn’t join the preserving party. The accompanying recipes can be made with store-bought alternatives. But promise me, before you shop for holiday party ingredients, that you’ll peruse your own pantry. Maybe you have jam or olives or pickles that you picked up at the farmers market or brought back from vacation. I have a friend who acquires jarred treasures on every trip but admits to never opening them. Sound familiar? Now is the time to use what is on those shelves.

When it comes to the pantry, I’m nothing if not practical. Every food I preserve has a purpose. Beyond jams, there are tarts. Beyond the pickles, some salads. And that crazy sauerkrauben, the last of the Canning Class projects? Bake it with a ham hock and apples, then say hello to eisbein, a dish that is just that easy to assemble.

The flurry of holidays is right around the corner. Guests will be arriving. Relatives will camp out at your house, and they will be hungry all the time. Rather than scramble, check your pantry. You’ve got this.

Barrow’s first cookbook, “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving,” is out this month (W.W. Norton, 2014). She blogs at www.mrswheelbarrow.com. She will join Wednesday’s Free Range chat at live.washingtonpost.com.