The *Right* Way To Use Your Refrigerator’s Crisper Drawers To Keep Fruits And Veg Fresh, Longer

Those mysterious crisper drawers have a very real use. Here’s how to make the most of them.

Refrigerator crisper drawer: vegetables in a wicker basket.

Store these veggies properly. Photo, iStock.

Too often, crisper drawers end up being the place where produce goes to die. If you’re like me, you set the slider in the middle and hope for the best. But it turns out those drawers have a very real purpose — they help your fruit and vegetables stay fresh longer, which means you end up wasting less food. So if you want to stop throwing out half-eaten heads of lettuce and mushy tomatoes, here’s everything you need to know to start using your crisper drawers properly.

How do refrigerator crisper drawers work?

They control humidity by minimizing or maximizing airflow differently than the rest of your fridge — most crispers let you adjust the humidity with a slider or dial. For fruits and vegetables, humidity matters, because it can affect how long your produce remains fresh. Depending on your fridge model, the dials might be labelled, but if not, slide right for high humidity and left for low. When you have it set to low humidity, you’re maximizing airflow and when it’s set to high humidity, less air is allowed in.  If your fridge doesn’t have manual sliders, assume your crisper maintains high humidity.

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What setting should I use for fruit?

Fruit are sensitive to ethylene gas (produced by fruit as they ripen and can accelerate spoilage of other fruit) and require a low humidity environment. By setting to low humidity, you open a small window in the drawer designed to release ethylene gas and excess moisture, extending the life of your fruit.

What setting should I use for vegetables?

Veggies are susceptible to moisture loss, and require a high humidity to mitigate this. High humidity keeps them crisp, moist and fresh for a longer period of time.

What should I store in my crisper drawers?

As we explain above, crisper drawers are meant for fruits and vegetables. The general rule is to place anything that rots in a low humidity drawer, and anything that wilts in a high humidity draw. Here’s how you can get started:

Low humidity:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Figs
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Apricots
  • Plums
  • Nectarines
  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Mushrooms
  • Green onion
  • Citrus fruits

High humidity

  • Strawberries
  • Okra
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Green Beans
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Cucumber
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini

And remember, crisper drawers are designed to be kept two-thirds full for optimal airflow. If you don’t have enough produce for both, they’re perfect for storing milk bags? (or beer cans).

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