If your garden is going crazy like mine is, you might be wishing that autumn would arrive soon so things will slow down. As much as I love my garden, the summer months are bountiful with zucchini, tomatoes, and other summer vegetables.

By mid-summer, I look forward to autumn because it means cooler temperatures. The fresh summer produce we enjoy will be replaced by fall produce like acorn squash, pumpkins, and even apples. And then suddenly winter arrives and I miss all of the fresh produce once the cold weather sets in.

Summer produce tends to go bad quickly. That’s why it’s so important to can your tomatoes or make my homemade salsa recipe. We always have several loaves of zucchini bread and bags of diced green peppers as well.

Thankfully, you can make your fall produce last longer by following a few simple tips.

Inspect it carefully

Any bump, bruise, cut or soft spot on fruits or vegetables will cause it to spoil more quickly. Damaged produce should be used first. Never store damaged produce with your other produce as it can cause them all to go bad.

Keep it cool and dry

To encourage your fall produce to stay good as long as possible, it should be kept in a cool, dry location. A root cellar is ideal if you have one. If not, a crisper drawer in the refrigerator or even a cool back hallway in your home may work as well. Just be sure that you store it so that air can circulate freely around the surface to prevent spoilage.

Preserve the excess

If you know that you have far too much of one particular fruit to eat before it spoils, consider preserving the excess. Apples can be made into applesauce or apple butter. Pumpkins can be made into pumpkin pie filling. Pears can be canned for future desserts.

Make stock

Extra carrots, parsnips, or other root vegetables can be boiled and made into a soup stock. Just boil the vegetables in water and then store in plastic containers. In the future, you can take out a container and add meat and rice to make homemade soup. It will taste wonderful on a cold winter evening long after your garden has been put to sleep.

Think outside the box

There are so many different ways to make your fall produce last longer that there is no excuse for letting it go bad. Consider pickling cabbage and making sauerkraut. Dehydrate apple slices to make apple chips. And, of course, there are always jams, jellies, preserves, pie filling and a host of other ways to make your produce last just a little bit longer.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy fall produce?