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Michigan State University

Keeping fresh produce in your refrigerator but watch the humidity!

Fruit and vegetable crispers - the drawers in your refrigerator - are designed to maintain a higher humidity than the rest of the refrigerator, so your fresh produce lasts longer. But different types of produce have different storage needs. If you control the amount of humidity they are exposed to, your crispers can keep your produce in good condition longer.

That is why some refrigerators give you the ability to control the humidity levels by increasing or decreasing the air flow permitted into the storage bins.
Michigan State University Extension offers the following 9 tips when it comes to storing your fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator.

• Less air flow means higher humidity.
• Veggies like high humidity and fruits like low humidity.
• Leafy greens tend to fare best with higher humidity and the coolest conditions. (Lettuce, spinach, collard greens and even green onions)
• Apples, grapes, bell peppers, summer squash and other thin-skinned fruits and vegetables tend to like slightly less-humid conditions than leafy greens.
• Citrus fruit prefers even less moisture – you can store oranges, lemons and grapefruit in a basket outside of the crispers in the main part of your refrigerator.
• Store fruits away from other produce. Besides controlling humidity, crispers also offer the opportunity to separate foods that just don’t play well together.
For example, some fruits continue to ripen after harvest. When they do so, they release ethylene gas, and that can affect other produce stored nearby. Apples, pears, plums, cantaloupes and peaches are all high-ethylene producers. The gas can cause green vegetables to turn yellow; lettuce to be marred with rust-colored spots; asparagus spears to toughen; and carrots to turn bitter.
• Some fruits and vegetables do best outside of the refrigerator, such as tomatoes which can lose flavor, and even become overly soft, if kept too cold, so keep them on the counter. Although cucumbers purchased at most grocery stores have a protective wax coating, they are best stored at refrigerator temperature, 40o F.
• If you refrigerate bananas, they’ll stop ripening and their skins will turn black. The bananas look bad on the outside but the flesh inside will stay firmer longer than if they were left on the counter.
• Potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and dry garlic prefer cool, dry conditions, so keep them out of your refrigerator.

As reported by, paying attention to the amount of humidity your produce is exposed to, will help you to maintain good quality food for the longest possible time, which means less wasted food and less wasted money.

Publication date: 3/1/2018



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