Fruits and vegetables can last for weeks when they are stored under proper conditions in a refrigerator. Most modern refrigerators include crisper drawers specifically designed to keep vegetables at appropriate humidity and temperature requirements; however, depending on the items, shelf storage may provide a better environment than drawers. An average refrigerator should be set at around 1.11 degrees C. Since temperatures vary in different areas of the refrigerator, storage locations can be adjusted to allow for an ideal fruit and vegetable climate.
Lettuces, greens, broccoli, apples and asparagus should be stored in the coldest area of the refrigerator, which experiences an average temperature of 0.556 degrees C; however, if items begin to freeze, the overall refrigerator temperature should be increased by -17.2 or -16.6 degrees C. These fruits and vegetables store best with humidity above 95 per cent, and the crisper drawer is an adjustable climate storage location. Move the sliding gauge to the high humidity setting and store items in punctured plastic bags for best results.
Beans, berries, melons, corn and citrus are sensitive to temperatures below 2.78 degrees C and should be stored in warmer areas of the refrigerator. Keep these fruits and vegetables at the front of middle shelves. Encourage the absorption of low-existing humidity by storing produce in plastic bags with holes. No adjustment to the overall refrigerator temperature is necessary as the refrigeration cycle and proximity to the door make this location warmer than the crisper drawer or back of shelves.
Although refrigerator storage is a common way to keep produce, the cold temperatures of the refrigerator can cause more harm than good for some fruits and vegetables. Avocados, bananas, tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes, potatoes and squash should be stored at room temperature. Cold temperatures inside the refrigerator can cause these items to dehydrate or become pitted. An adjustment to the overall temperature to make the environment appropriate for these items would result in temperatures that could cause spoilage in other chilled items.