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Refrigerators

5 fridge innovations that keep produce fresh for longer

No one likes soggy lettuce

Produce on shelf in refrigerator. Credit: Reviewed / David Ellerby

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If you were tasked with listing the five most important refrigerator features, the crisper probably wouldn’t make the list. Crispers provide one of the most opaque user experiences you can have with a refrigerator, despite providing an important service: Maximizing the shelf life of your fresh produce.

Fortunately, manufacturers are beginning to equip refrigerators with brand new technology aimed at keeping your fruits and veggies fresher for longer.

Here are five refrigerator innovations across the industry that maximize the shelf life of your produce.

1. Crisper basics

Temperature feature inside of refrigerator.
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

It’s true: Those plastic toggles actually do something.

Before we open up your fridge and dive into its the more advanced veggie tech out there, we need to be sure everyone is aware of the basics—the crispers themselves sure aren’t providing much in the way of clear instructions.

For starters, crispers usually come in pairs, typically labeled as fruits and vegetables. The reason for this separation is ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is a hormone some fruits and vegetables release that can cause other produce to ripen and rot faster, resulting in accidental food waste. Most ethylene gas is produced by fruits, and it often affects leafy vegetables the most.

Something as simple as separating your produce can significantly improve the shelf life of everything contained in the crispers.

Those toggles on top of the crisper drawer also provide some good functionality, though they’re much more difficult to use. Those toggles effectively control the rate at which humidity escapes the crisper, but calibrating requires several confounding factors. You’ll need a hygrometer and a knowledge of what conditions your produce prefers: Keep items that like low-humidity environments around 60% relative humidity, and increase that to about 95% for anything requiring high-humidity.

One last piece of the puzzle is making sure you keep your crispers well-stocked. Crispers are most effective when the drawers are filled up to about 67% of their maximum capacity. This will prevent anything from getting squashed, while helping retain humidity and airflow.

If you’re looking for a great fridge that nails this basic crisper technology, we’d recommend checking out the GE Café CVE28DM5NS5 or GE Profile PVD28BYNFS.

2. Ethylene gas filtration system

Fresh produce in crisper draw in refrigerator.
Credit: Bosch

While you can purchase a stand-alone ethylene gas filter for your crispers, some higher-end fridges have that technology built in to their air circulation systems.

One of the best ways to maximize the shelf life of your fresh fruits and vegetables is to get a refrigerator with higher circulation throughput, especially those systems that have ethylene gas filters, like the Frigidaire Gallery GRSC2352AF and Bosch B36CL80SNS.

Proper air circulation can help disperse ethylene gas before it can affect your food, but if you really want to cut down on its effects you’ll need a specialized filter. Ethylene gas filters can be purchased separately, or come built into your fridge’s air filtration system.

These filters work by neutralizing the gas with a chemical reaction.

3. Humidity sensors

Fresh oranges and kale in crisper draw.
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

Put away that hygrometer: There are smarter crispers out there that will monitor the humidity for you.

Don’t have the time or energy to pinpoint exactly where that plastic toggle should be positioned? Fortunately for you, some manufacturers are taking a more high-tech approach to this problem that provides a much more intuitive user experience.

The Bosch 800 series of refrigerators, such as the Bosch B36CT80SNS, are equipped with humidity sensors, which can actively ensure the ideal conditions for your fresh produce. Now, you won’t have to re-toggle your crispers each time you go grocery shopping: A computer automatically keeps track of the conditions inside your crisper, preventing your produce from wilting or turning the entire drawer into a swamp.

4. Blue light technology

Fresh fruit and vegetables in crisper drawer.
Credit: Reviewed / Mark Brezinski

Beko’s blue light technology is really promising, even if its current implementation doesn’t quite measure up to the claims.

That blue glow coming from Beko’s refrigerator crispers isn’t purely for aesthetic value. This interesting innovation can help leafy produce retain more of their nutrients over time, according to some studies.

Beko also claims this light can help promote continued photosynthesis, which would further improve the freshness and vitamin content of your produce, but in the models we’ve tested so far these lights were a bit too dim to provide sufficient photosynthetically active radiation.

This has been showcased in several Beko fridges so far, such as the Beko BFTF2716SSIM and Beko BFFD3626SS.

That being said, there’s no reason future fridges couldn’t better leverage this technology, creating a lush blue landscape where leafy greens thrive.

5. Inventory management

Person using smartphone to review what's inside of refrigerator.
Credit: Samsung

Inventory management apps like Samsung’s View Inside can help remind you about that bag of baby spinach that’s buried beneath other items.

One of the sleeper hits of any smart appliance platform is the food inventory management system. Manufacturers like Bosch, LG, and Samsung have features that let you track what food is in your fridge as well as its shelf life, and can notify you before something goes bad.

While it seems basic, remembering what’s in your fridge and the date by which it needs to be used can eliminate a significant amount of accidental food waste.

Several manufacturers offer (or have partnered with third party companies that provide) this functionality. For example, Samsung has SmartThings Cooking and Bosch is partnered with Chefling.

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