When it comes to properly utilising a fridge to stock fresh produce, most people know that low temperatures help to keep food fresh for longer, but this guide to refrigerators and humidity drawers explains how humidity also plays a vital role in extending the life of some of your fresh fruits and vegetables.
In your fridge you may find that you have a humidity drawer that regulates the amount of humidity your produce receives. Humidity drawers keep your fruit and vegetables in particular, fresher for longer, preventing wastage, saving you money and the effort required to replace any affected produce, but it is important to know how best to use them, in order to maximise product quality for as long as possible.
What are humidity drawers?
Designated fruit and vegetable drawers are designed to maintain a higher humidity than the rest of the refrigerator. There is a constant cycle of air circulation inside the fridge, with warm air rising and cold air sinking, but these ‘humidity drawers’ work by restricting or allowing air exchange between the drawer and the rest of the fridge, thereby controlling the moisture level within.
Generally speaking, humidity drawers should be adjustable between some kind of low and high setting, which basically opens or closes a window in the drawer. Having this window completely open results in a low humidity environment, whilst having it completely closed will increase the humidity within.
What to store where?
The general rule of thumb is to put any fruit or vegetables that have a tendency to rot, in a separate drawer with a low-humidity setting. This is because they emit an ethylene gas, so increasing the air-flow to the drawer gives the gas a chance to escape, keeping everything from rotting prematurely.
Your leafy greens, such as salad, spinach and herbs are all low-ethylene producers and will benefit from being put into a high-humidity drawer (where the air-flow is restricted). This will mean that any water vapour (moisture) will remain within the drawer, keeping the greens crisper and fresher for longer.
*feature image (top) courtesy of Fisher & Paykel
Knowing which fruit and vegetables produce ethylene and understanding humidity settings, will help you properly store your fruits and veggies and extend their shelf lives, so here’s our handy guide:
- Leafy greens (such as lettuces, spinach, chard, watercress and kale)
- Broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, green beans and cauliflower
- Fresh Herbs (such as parsley, dill and coriander)
- Peppers (Capsicum)
- Any produce sensitive to moisture loss
- Any produce sensitive to ethylene gas
- Apples and Pears
- Produce not sensitive to moisture loss
- High-ethylene gas producers
- Stone fruits (apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums)
- Tropical fruit (such as mango, kiwi, papaya, figs and melon)
Understanding humidity settings and knowing which items produce ethylene (or are sensitive to it), will help you to store your fruits and vegetables in the best possible way and extend their shelf life in the process.
Comark offers a range of devices that are suitable for use in humidity measurement applications, in both domestic and professional environments.