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What to Store in Your Refrigerator Humidity Drawers

Using crisper drawers correctly will free up space and help prolong the life of your produce.

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Photo by Anna Hoychuk

Question! (And answer honestly!) Do you actually know how to use the crisper or humidity drawers in your fridge? Or do you just bump the notches towards the middle and hope for the best? Do you actually store fruits and veggies in the drawers? Or are they currently just loaded up with La Croix?

Of course, we are not judging you! At all! We just want you to get the most from your refrigerator. And that includes the crisper drawers. Using them correctly will not only free up space throughout the fridge, it will also help prolong the life of your produce.

Here’s how to use these refrigerator drawers properly — and what to store in them. Hint: Not fizzy water.

Photo by Chris Perez

How Do Refrigerator Crisper Drawers Work?

Most humidity drawers are adjustable with a few clicks between low and high. These settings simply open or close a window in the drawer. For the low humidity setting, the window is completely open; for the high humidity setting, it is completely closed.

What Should Go in Each Drawer?

The general rule of thumb is to put things that tend to rot in a drawer with a low-humidity setting. This includes fruits and veggies that emit an ethylene gas, like apples and pears, because leaving the window open on the drawer gives those gases a chance to escape. When the gases are released, it helps keep the fruits and vegetables from rotting prematurely.

Things that wilt go in the high-humidity drawer. This will be all your leafy greens, like arugula, spinach, and herbs. By having the window closed, water vapor is held in the drawer and the moisture keeps the greens crisper and fresher longer. Keeping fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to ethylene gas, like strawberries, in this drawer will also keep them away from ethylene producers.

Here’s a handy list of what common fruits and vegetables should be kept in each drawer.

Photo by Apartment Therapy

High-Humidity Drawer

The high-humidity drawer should contain the following:

  • Produce sensitive to moisture loss.
  • Produce sensitive to ethylene gas.

Fruits and Vegetables to Keep in the High-Humidity Drawer

  • Bananas (unripe)
  • Belgian endive
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, thyme)
  • Leafy greens (kale, lettuces, spinach, Swiss chard, watercress)
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Summer squash
  • Watermelon

Photo by Apartment Therapy

Low-Humidity Drawer

The low-humidity drawer should contain the following:

  • Produce not sensitive to moisture loss.
  • High-ethylene gas producers.

Fruits and Vegetables to Keep in the Low-Humidity Drawer

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas (ripe)
  • Cantaloupes
  • Figs
  • Honeydew melons
  • Kiwis
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Pears
  • Plantains
  • Stone fruits (apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums)

Finally, the drawers work best if they are at least two-thirds full, and we like to think of it as good motivation to have a supply of healthy foods around!

Understanding humidity settings, knowing what is sensitive to ethylene, and knowing which things produce ethylene will help you properly store your fruits and veggies and extend their shelf lives. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll appreciate how useful this information really is!

Christine Gallary graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, and she has worked at Cook's Illustrated and CHOW.com. She lives in San Francisco and loves teaching cooking classes. Follow her latest culinary escapades on Instagram.

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This post originally appeared on The Kitchn and was published June 26, 2020. This article is republished here with permission.

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