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Here’s How a Crisper Drawer Actually Works

A person pulls open a crisper drawer in a fridge.
JulieK2/Shutterstock.com

If you’re like me, you know that certain fruits and vegetables belong in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. You also know part of the reason is to keep produce fresh. But how does a crisper actually work?

Crisper drawers help regulate the gas produced by fruits and vegetables. Some produce emits a gas called ethylene and, as they ripen, more gas is emitted. The gas also affects any fruits or veggies nearby and causes them to rot. It can also spoil the food producing the ethylene.

A crisper drawer releases some of the ethylene gas, but there are two types: low- and high-humidity.

A low-humidity crisper drawer usually has a toggle that allows you to adjust how much gas and humidity is released. This type of drawer is best for ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables like honeydew melons, apples, and peaches, as well as those that don’t lose excess moisture over time.

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Create your own high-humidity crisper drawer.

The high-humidity crisper drawers don’t have a toggle. They’re typically a completely closed design, and are ideal for storing greens and other produce that lose moisture more quickly.

These drawers seal all the moisture inside, helping produce stay fresh longer. This means, however, if you put any ethylene-producing fruits or veggies in there, the gas will be sealed in, as well, so be sure to keep those separate.

If you’re unsure which fruits and vegetables produce ethylene, a quick web search will help you out. The easiest way to remember, though, is if it rots, it belongs in the low-humidity drawer. If it wilts, it belongs in the high-humidity drawer.

So, next time you’re putting away your groceries, make sure you put your produce in the right drawer.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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