Ah, the crisper drawer. Or, as it’s more likely known in your home, the “anything that doesn’t fit anywhere else in the fridge” drawer. Those little drawers near the bottom of your refrigerator always seem to collect things like string cheese, yogurt cups, and granola bars (seriously? Who put those in the fridge?), but what are they actually for?
It turns out, these nifty compartments serve an important purpose when it comes to keeping your food fresh!
What is a Crisper Drawer?
A crisper drawer is basically a sealed off area within a fridge set to lower or higher humidity than the rest of the unit. Some fridges come with multiple drawers with pre-set humidity levels, while others let you adjust drawers to any humidity level you need.
The adjustment mechanism is deceptively simple: when you set it to high humidity, a little vent in the back of the drawer closes, sealing the compartment shut. As you set the humidity lower, the vent opens, letting out some of the moisture trapped inside. Easy! But what can be slightly more complicated is figuring out which foods go where.
What to Store in a Crisper Drawer
Even though you can keep all kinds of things in your crisper drawer, you’ll see the best results with fresh produce. If you always seem to be throwing money at grocery stores and farmer’s markets, only to find your beautiful organic veggies wilted beyond reason just days later, a crisper drawer might be able to save your wallet and your dinner plans.
But before you start tossing everything leafy into the crisper, keep in mind that different produce has different needs. Some will need lower humidity and others need higher humidity, and you can do some serious damage to your food by putting in the wrong drawer.
A common rule of thumb for determining what should go in each drawer goes like this: “rot, low; wilt, high.” That means foods that rot as they go bad should be kept in the low humidity drawer. Fruits and other produce that don’t lose moisture easily should be top candidates for this drawer.
These types of produce emit gases as they age, but the open vent in the back lets those gases out of the drawer, so the fruit stays fresher for longer. Here are a few things to try storing in a low humidity drawer:
Leafy greens and other foods that wilt as they get older should be kept in high humidity conditions. These foods won’t release much gas while they’re being stored, but they’ll lose moisture like crazy. Keeping these veggies in the crisper drawer set to high humidity should help keep them fresh and…well, crisp!
Now quick, get to the fridge! Rearrange your drawers with all this in mind and notice how much longer your food lasts. Another pro tip: crisper drawers tend to work best when they’re nearly full. So, go crazy next time you’re feeling the need to freshen up your diet! The more fruits and veggies you can pack in, the better—as long as you remember to eat them all!
If you’re still struggling to keep food fresh, the problem might be your fridge. Come on down to Heins Appliance and Refrigeration to check out our selection of new fridges, and ask us about anything and everything appliance!