If you want to keep your produce fresher for longer, you need to make the best use of your refrigerator crisper drawers. When you open your refrigerator door, the drawers may look like nothing particularly special. In fact, some may even use the drawers to throw things that don’t properly fit on the shelves such as apples or even beer. Before you dismiss your crisper drawers, you need to understand that these drawers are not merely drawers, but when used properly can protect all your produce from spoiling.
The Two Types of Crisper
Having drawers can be a good storage option, but controlling them makes them an even greater feature. If your refrigerator is equipped with humidity settings, that are usually a small vent or simple toggle to change between high and low humidity, you can tailor the conditions in your crisper drawer to create the optimum conditions for different types of produce. If your refrigerator doesn’t have humidity controls, you will have a high humidity crisper by default.
Food preservation experts appreciate that a great deal of the humidity inside crisper drawers is derived from the produce itself. The humidity settings refer to the space left in the drawers that is open to airflow. Low humidity drawers introduce airflow into the drawer, while high humidity settings close off the airflow completely. Both of these provide an advantage; it just depends on what produce you want to store.
Putting Everything in its Place
There is a general rule of thumb that if produce rots it needs low humidity, while produce prone to wilting needs high humidity. This means that fruits such as ripe bananas, apricots, plums, peaches, kiwis and nectarines need low humidity, while cauliflower, eggplant, lettuces, broccoli, peppers, and sweet potatoes need high humidity. The reason for this is that some vegetables and fruits release ethylene gas as they ripen. Many types of fruit are sensitive to this gas and ripen further when it is present. A great example of this is bananas. As ethylene is released in a small space like crisper drawers, the other items in the drawer will start to rot. In fact, the produce releasing the gas may also rot themselves.
When your crisper drawer has been set on low humidity or the fruit setting, it allows some of the ethylene gas to escape, thereby keeping your fruits and vegetables fresher for longer. Your high humidity drawer is designed to protect greens and any other items of produce that lose moisture quickly, including lettuce, salad greens, citrus, and asparagus. These items of produce need moisture, which is preserved by the tighter seal. This increases the moisture level, allowing your greens and vegetables to stay fresh and sturdy. It is crucial that any ethylene producing fruits or vegetables are not kept in this drawer, or they can impact the ethylene sensitive items.
While humidity controls on your crisper drawers may seem like an extravagance, they can actually allow your produce to stay fresher for longer. This can not only ensure that you enjoy your fruits and vegetables at the peak of their freshness, but saves food waste. After all, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing all the delicious produce you lovingly picked out at the farmers market or grocery store rotting or wilting before your very eyes. So, if you’re refrigerator is not equipped with adequate crisper drawers it may be time to consider an upgrade.