Crisper Drawers... How Do They Work?
...and what should I put in them?
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You can learn a lot about a person by peeking inside their fridge. You're snacking at an acquaintance's home, the refrigerator door swings open, and you think "someone's on a diet" or "they must really like hunting," or "I guess nobody here likes to cook."
But store your produce incorrectly, and you'll invite a different kind of impression: "Ah, I see these people don't know how to use their fridge. What gives? Refrigerators have been around for decades! They should really spend more time reading about them on the internet."
Wouldn't want that. So here's a quick guide to crisper drawer food preservation, what you should store inside and—more importantly—where.
The typical crisper drawer (or "produce drawer," or "humidity drawer," or "whatever") is simply a partition inside your refrigerator that offers a more humid environment than the rest of the interior.
Many drawers have a sliding humidity control setting that ranges from "Fruit" to "Vegetables" (still others use the ambiguous labels of "High" to "Low"), and these low-tech sliders usually just reveal or obstruct a little hole in the drawer that allows moisture—and also something called ethylene gas, which causes ripening—to escape.
"Fruit" (that's low humidity) and "Vegetable" (higher humidity) settings are sufficiently self-explanatory for most people and most produce, but there are a few ways to get tripped up.
First of all, if you have two crispers, do use them both, even if you don't have any humidity control sliders. At least you'll be able to separate ethylene-emitting fruits from ethylene-sensitive veggies.
Beyond that, keep fruits in the fruit drawer, and veggies in the vegetable drawer, but watch out for a few tricky exceptions:
The High Humidity Drawer
- Most vegetables and...
- Unripe (green) bananas
The Low Humidity Drawer
- Ripe (yellow) bananas, and also plantains
- Most other fruits
Believe it or not, some people keep a list like the one above on or even in their refrigerators. Cheesy? Yes. But careful produce drawer storage prolongs the life of your groceries, saving money and flavor at no extra cost.
What won't save you any money: filling your produce drawers to their capacity. But, as it turns out, that's exactly what you should do. Crisper drawers work best when they're mostly full, so don't be afraid to stock up!