For the majority of my life, I didn’t know how to store vegetables in my refrigerator drawer. These drawers actually have a name, called crispers. The crisper in your refrigerator is distinct from the rest of your refrigerator in that its compartments are designed to hold humidity levels that are different from the rest of your fridge. This difference in humidity allows for vegetables and fruits to stay fresher for longer.
Vegetables generally require more humidity while fruits generally require less. Therefore, there is usually a separate compartment for each in most refrigerators.
The Airflow Is What Controls The Humidity
Most refrigerator crispers will have a controller to adjust the humidity. This controller basically either will allow more or allow less air into the drawer depending on how you set it. If you close the airflow, this will result in more humidity accumulating in the drawer. If you open the airflow, there will be less humidity inside the drawer.
So, how do you decide which veggies go in what drawer?
Generally, frail leafy veggies last longer in high humidity and anything that is prone to rotting (apples, berries, pears) as well as any ethylene producing produce is best in the low humidity drawer. The extra airflow in the low humidity drawer allows for the ethylene gas to escape instead of staying inside the compartment.
What is Ethylene? (And How It Influences How You Store Food)
Ethylene is a hormone produced by fruits and veggies that tell it to ripen faster. Consequently, you may want to keep your high ethylene produce away from your ethylene sensitive produce. Things like apples will go in your low humidity drawer, and things like lettuces will go in your high humidity drawer.
Here is A General Guideline of What Goes in Each Drawer (How to Store Vegetables and Fruits)
High Humidity Drawer (vent window is closed)
- More sensitive to Moisture Loss
- ethylene sensitive
- Lettuces and herbs
- Summer Squash
- Brussel Sprouts
Low Humidity Drawer (vent window is open)
- Produce not sensitive to moisture loss
- Ethylene producing
- Stone Fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines)
In general, you want to keep your refrigerator crisper 2/3 of the way full so that things have room to breathe and circulate. Organizing your refrigerator this way can help your veggies and fruits stay fresher for longer.
If you want to know what fruits and veggies stay the freshest for the longest amount of time you can refer to this article: 12+ Fruits and Veggies That Last For Months
Ingrid is NASM-certified trainer, Movement Artist & Fitness Educator and has taught and worked in hospitals, sports clinics, and fitness centers throughout the bay area.