humidity drawers/crispers

You likely have a humidity control fridge in your home, whether you realize it or not. We’ve all seen the knobs, but how many of us leave our refrigerator humidity controller on the middle setting? These settings have quite an impact on your fruits, vegetables, and other food if you know how to use them properly.

Groceries can get expensive, and shopping every few days takes up time. Life is easier when you can buy all of your fruits and veggies for the week and have them last until you’re ready to eat them. To maximize your grocery budget, getting up to speed on your refrigerator humidity controller is key.

How Do Humidity Drawers Work?

Humidity drawers, otherwise known as crispers, work by controlling the airflow to the contents they store. As you’ll probably remember from science class, warm air rises and cold air sinks, which is why there is a constant cycle of air circulating in a humidity control fridge. Unless you adjust your refrigerator humidity controller, incorrect air circulation can wreak havoc on certain produce.

The “high” setting on the humidity drawer will cut off airflow to the drawer, allowing the contents to sit in the humidity and gases they produce as they ripen. The “low” setting opens up a small vent, allowing gases and moisture to escape, decreasing the humidity in the drawer. High humidity equals a closed window, low humidity equals an open window, but setting that knob to the middle setting is bad for all your produce.

The purpose of the humidity drawers in your refrigerator is to create an organized storage environment that will prolong the edible life of your fruits and vegetables. Here’s how to figure out which foods benefit from low, high, and outside settings.

Which Foods Should You Keep in High-Humidity Drawers?

The rule of thumb for a humidity control fridge is to put any food that wilts into the high-humidity drawer. Putting your fresh leafy vegetables in a drawer with high humidity is optimal for maintaining crispness.

If you want to give your refrigerator humidity drawer a boost, line the drawer with a damp cloth or paper towel. The extra moisture will keep lettuce, spinach, kale, and other leafy produce hydrated and looking fresh. High-humidity drawers are also ideal for various produce, including:

Fruits:

  • unripe bananas
  • strawberries
  • watermelon
  • okra

Vegetables:

  • lettuce
  • arugula
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • carrots
  • eggplant
  • green beans
  • peas
  • peppers
  • squash
  • cucumbers
  • cauliflower

Now that you know how to get the most moisture out of your refrigerator humidity controller, remember that delicate leafy vegetables and herbs enjoy a moisture-rich environment. To achieve high humidity, the window should be closed to trap the moisture in the drawer.

Which Foods Should You Keep in Low-Humidity Drawers?

Foods not sensitive to moisture loss are perfect for the low-humidity drawer. Since these foods are often high-ethylene gas producers, they benefit from the additional venting. According to the humidity control fridge experts, you’ll commonly only use low-humidity drawers for fruits.

Fruits:

  • apples
  • ripe bananas
  • small melons
  • figs
  • kiwis
  • mangos
  • papayas
  • pears
  • apricots
  • plums
  • peaches
  • nectarines

Fruits and vegetables can rot rather than wilt if stored in a moist or high-humidity environment. Put the refrigerator humidity controller for this drawer on “low” and open the window exchange to keep air flowing over these types of produce. If you have a lot of produce packed in this drawer, a lower humidity level is a good idea; there’s likely enough moisture from the drawer contents to keep things balanced.

Which Foods Should Be Stored Outside of the Humidity Drawers?

There are some fruits and vegetables you will want to store outside the humidity drawers. Citrus fruits, for example, prefer very low humidity and often do better kept in the main part of the refrigerator. Vegetables and fruits that can get soft and lose flavor inside a refrigerator should be stored on the counter, but beware of fruit flies. These produce items include:

  • potatoes
  • onions
  • corn
  • garlic
  • lemons
  • limes

You may not realize this, but not every piece of produce belongs in the fridge. Sensitive fruits like pineapples, bananas, avocados, and mangos can spoil faster if refrigerated. The same goes for vegetables like cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, and tomatoes.

Tips for Using Humidity Drawers

Regardless of the refrigerator humidity controller settings, humidity drawers and crispers work best if they are more than halfway full. If you find that your fruits and vegetables are still going bad before you can eat them, consider upgrading your refrigerator—or pledge to eat produce more often.

A fridge with humidity control is also perfect for storing cheese and meats. According to The Cheese Society, the proper temperature for storing cheese is between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, with the fridge humidity control set to high. The bottom produce humidity drawer should be your first choice but don’t store cheese near the freezer or meat bin. For pungent cheese, put it in a lidded container and put an open box of baking soda in the fridge to control odor.

Your fridge may have a specified humidity drawer for meat (or deli drawer)  in addition to the crisper drawers. If yours does not, you can designate one of the others. It’s best to keep meat in a bottom drawer to prevent cross-contamination from drips and because it’s typically one of the coldest zones. Use a tray with a lip and keep meats products wrapped securely to contain spills and maintain freshness.

Whether you use the humidity control in your fridge to keep meat fresh, it’s a good habit to clean the humidity drawers every two weeks. Pull out all the drawers, empty them, and wash them in the sink with soap and water. Rinse the drawers with hot water and wipe them dry before putting them back in the fridge. Pro tip: since you already have the crisper drawers out, go ahead and give the fridge a cleanup.

Instead of finding yourself tossing out food or needing to scrub bad smells out of your fridge, master that refrigerator humidity controller. By using this guide, it’s easier to figure out the right high or low humidity for vegetables, fruits, meat, and cheese.

Whether you do it yourself or let The Maids take care of the housekeeping, we’re on a mission to make every home a cleaner place to live. Now that you know how to use the refrigerator humidity control like a pro, what’s next? Check out our extensive library of house cleaning how-tos to make keeping your home clean more manageable. And when you’re ready for a helping hand, get your free online estimate to see how affordable customized cleaning can be.


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