Watermelon being placed into a crisper drawer

Using Your Crisper Drawer To Help Keep Produce Fresh

Your refrigerator’s crisper drawers can help to reduce waste and maintain fresh, long-lasting produce for you and your family. Learn about crisper humidity levels and how to properly store fruits and vegetables in your crisper drawers for optimal results.

Left crisper drawer filled with colorful peppers and right crisper drawer filled with fresh fruit

What is a Crisper Drawer?

A crisper drawer, also know as a humidity drawer, is a bin in your refrigerator that has different levels of humidity for the purposes of preserving freshness and extending the life of your fruits and vegetables.

Most crispers have convenient adjustable settings that essentially regulate air flow to and from the bin. This allows you to simply slide the meter to adjust airflow for higher or lower humidity. Some refrigerator crispers even have produce labels on the sliders for added convenience for your storage needs.

Person taking red and yellow peppers out of the fridge

How do Refrigerator Crisper Drawers Work?

Refrigerator crisper drawers function by controlling the airflow through the drawer. For example, when a crisper is set to “high humidity,” air flow is essentially cut off from the bin, allowing produce to be stored in a controlled environment without losing moisture.

However, a crisper drawer set to “low humidity” allows air and moisture to escape freely through a small vent or opening, exposing the contents to the outside air.

If your refrigerator includes two crispers, it is recommended to dedicate one to high humidity and one to low humidity for convenient and flexible storage options.

Note: Humidity in the crisper drawer is generated by whatever you store inside it. Adjusting the settings actually controls the rate of humidity removal by allowing more or less airflow through the drawer.

Learn more about how refrigerators function.

Do Refrigerator Storage Drawers Really Keep Produce Fresher?

With proper storage and humidity settings, refrigerator storage drawers can help extend the life of your fruits and vegetables, allowing you to reduce waste, save money and enjoy fresher-tasting produce in the process.

Generally, crisper drawers function best when they are about ⅔ full to allow breathing room for your produce. To avoid an unwanted mess, consider lining the bottom of your crisper drawers with paper towels for fast, convenient cleaning.

Learn more refrigerator cleaning tips and best practices.

Peppers, asparagus and leafy greens stored in a crisper drawer

What is the Difference Between a Fridge Crisper Drawer and a Fresh Drawer?

You may have both a crisper drawer and a fresh drawer in your refrigerator. A crisper drawer set to high humidity is designed to reduce airflow, helping to keep high-moisture foods fresh and “crisp,” such as lettuce and other leafy greens. Crisper drawers may have adjustable settings for optimal storage and preservation of different fruits and vegetables.

The purpose of a fresh drawer is to store food at the lowest possible temperature without freezing it, which is ideal for raw fish, meat and poultry.

Learn more about refrigerator organization tips.

What Items Go in the Crisper Drawer?

Knowing how to properly sort produce in high or low-humidity crisper drawers can help extend the freshness of your fruits and vegetables. 

Low-Humidity Crisper Storage

Produce that is prone to rotting, such as apples, avocados, pears and other fruits that contain a pit, should be stored in a low-humidity (opened) crisper drawer. This allows the moisture and air to freely circulate from the bin.

Be mindful that as these fruits ripen, ethylene gas is naturally released. It is recommended to isolate ethylene-emitting fruits in the low-humidity drawer to allow the gas to escape to prevent over-ripening and quick rotting.

Additionally, make sure to store pitted fruits separately from ethylene-sensitive fruits, like strawberries, to prevent quick spoiling.

High-Humidity Crisper Storage

Ethylene-sensitive produce and vegetables that are prone to wilting, such as leafy greens, cucumbers and fresh herbs, should be stored in a high-humidity (closed) crisper drawer. This traps the moisture and air in the bin and prevents it from escaping, helping to preserve the crispness of your produce.



LOW-HUMIDITY Low-humidity (opened) crispers are generally best for ethylene-emitting fruits prone to rotting, such as apples, pears, melons and other pitted fruits. HIGH-HUMIDITY High-humidity (closed) crispers are generally best for thin-skinned vegetables that are prone to wilting, such as lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers and leafy greens.
Crisper drawer filled with limes, peaches, oranges and apples

How Do I Adjust My Refrigerator Crisper Drawer?

Most refrigerator crisper drawers come with convenient sliders to allow you to easily adjust the ventilation and moisture settings. For low humidity, move the slider to open the vents to circulate air and moisture for storing most stone fruits. For high humidity, move the slider to close the vents to trap air and moisture for crisp vegetables.

For more tips to keep your food fresh, learn about refrigerator and freezer temperature settings.

Is There Another Way to Adjust Humidity Settings in My Fridge?

Keeping a box of baking soda on a shelf helps to absorb moisture in the refrigerator, potentially reducing humidity. This also helps to reduce odors, but be mindful to replace the box on a monthly basis for optimal results.

Storing food in containers with tight-fitting lids and avoiding overcrowding may also help the air circulate freely inside your refrigerator.

Kitchen with stainless steel appliances, white cabinetry and a kitchen island

Don’t let your groceries go to waste. Now that you know how to take advantage of your crisper drawers to preserve produce, you can enjoy the convenience and peace of mind of fresh, long-lasting fruits and vegetables for you and your family.

Learn more about Maytag® refrigerators