What’s in your….crisper??

Top row from left: Pancetta for carbonara, clementines, jalapeno (my husband grew it from seed)
Bottom row from left: Broccoli, corn, potatoes, spinach, red pepper, garlic, avocado, carrots, apple, onions, green beans (from farmer’s market)
Very bottom: Little jars of our homemade concord grape jelly that we made last fall and still are trying to get through. We have grape vines in the backyard. It’s certainly not the best place to store.

I am a work in progress and so is my fridge. I took a picture of my “crisper” (I just love that word!) because I’m proud of how it looks. I have always worked hard to make sure that fresh food is in my fridge, but doing this project has made me even more aware of its importance. This is the best my crisper has ever looked.

In the past veggies used to spoil before I got a chance to use them. Now I’m more mindful about eating everything. The onion, red pepper, and two cloves of garlic went into a soup. I steamed the broccoli and half of the green beans. Today six potatoes, the rest of the green beans, all of the carrots, another onion and two cloves of garlic went into another soup. Since I don’t like spice, the jalapeno got sliced up by my husband and sprinkled onto his fish the other night (did you know that homegrown jalapenos can vary in spice level? he had one that had no spice and another that burned his mouth!). The avocado was sliced onto a spinach salad with walnuts and raspberries. And the apple and clementines were snacks. Still need to get through more of that darn jelly!

Now it’s your turn — take a picture of your refrigerator’s crisper, create a blog post on your blog, and post it below:

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38 Responses to What’s in your….crisper??

  1. d12brown July 21, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    No pic, but here's what's in my crisper:

    Broccoli crowns, grapes, blackberries, strawberries, cucumbers, baby carrots, iceberg lettice, tomatoes, a lego (I removed it), an avocado, and spinach.

    On my counter:
    Fruit bowl with bananas, apples, and clementines and a watermelon.

    In the pantry:
    Veggie bowl with onions, potatoes, garlic, jicama, and ginger.

    We pick tomatoes, peppers (chili pequenos) and limes from the backyard as we need them. That's my 9 year old's job and she loves it! Of course, this is the same child who would eats the peaches and apples straught from the tree and the strawberries and blackberries straight from the vines. I guess its good we don't use pesticides!

    Also, we use green bags and containers and it keeps the veggies and fruits fresher longer.

  2. The New Me July 21, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    Have to go grab my camera, but I wanted to say that you can use jelly to whip up a nice marinade for meat. I just used some organic strawberry preserves and dijon mustard (among some other tasty seasonings) to marinate some pork loin. Yummy!

  3. Anonymous July 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    You should always keep fruits and vegetables in separate crisper drawers. Fruits produce ethylene, which can cause vegetables to spoil very quickly.

  4. Melissa July 21, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    If you really want to knock out some jelly you could try http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/04/easy-jam-tart/ — set me back 2 jars, more or less! I found it a little too sweet (might want to add the lesser amount of jelly) but nobody complained too much. =)

  5. Catha ;o) July 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    I really need to start using my crispers for the intended purpose. I have all sorts of cheeses in one and meats in the other. Weird I know. Our veg and fruit are on a shelf at eye level since we use them more. Easier access… I'm sure they would last longer in the crisper though.

  6. Katie July 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    Because flavored yogurt, even organic, is full of HFCS and other unpronouncable additives, I have started buying plain yogurt (organic if I can find it, but they don't usually stock it at my grocery store) and adding homemade strawberry jam for flavor. I bet you could use your jelly the same way.

  7. Sarah July 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    I use preserves in smoothies during the winter. My kids love smoothies and since I put up preserves every summer it's a great way to use them. I've never used grape, but I've put fresh grapes in smoothies before, so the jelly might be good too.

    I have used grape jelly as part of a braising liquid for pot roast. It's:
    1/2 cup jelly,
    1 cup red wine,
    Enough beef broth for beef roast or chicken stock for pork roast, to cover the roast
    bouquet garnie of your favorite herbs and several whole pepper corns.
    Your favorite spice rub

    combine all ingriedents except roast and spice rub in crock put and turn on high
    sprinkle roast with spice rub and brown on all sides.
    Place in crock pot, turn crock pot to low
    cook roast for one hour and 15 min per pound on low. or approx 5 hours for a 4 pound roast.
    It should pull apart easily with just two forks, if not give it another half hour.

    This makes a great main dish and then we use the left overs for tacos the next night, just reheat in a pan with a little extra chicken/beef stock and your favorite salsa.

  8. Kim July 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    I don't have a blog so words will have to suffice.

    Glad today's entry got me to inventory my crisper drawers. I found a couple of artichokes that need to get steamed up soon or I'll be throwing $4 in the garbage. I also have a cantaloupe, some strawberries, 3 lemons, a lime, 2 mineolas, a couple of containers of prepped raw veggies (carrots, red pepper, radishes, sugar snap peas), 2 tubs of hummus for veggie dipping, prepped romaine, prepped red leaf lettuce, a few forlorn grape tomatoes, some flat-leaf parsley, 3 green chilies and 1 red one, and some sliced red onion.

    When I get home from the grocery store, I prep any veg I plan to eat raw. I started to do this because I was skipping eating them and throwing away much of what I bought. I always had good intentions but when it came time to make dinner after a long workday, I just didn't have the mental energy to deal with it. The same was true when it came time to pack lunch. I find that if I can just grab the prepped items I need, it takes little effort to throw together a salad or some veg and dip. I actually use up virtually all of what I buy now and my produce keeps longer.

    For lettuces, I tear off and discard the bottom core thingy any dicey-looking leaf parts, rinse the whole leaves well in very cold water, gather them together and shake off excess water and wrap the bundle in a layer of paper towels (which will become damp), then put the paper towel-wrapped bundle in a zipper bag. I push as much air out of the zipper bag as I I can as I seal it. I wash and reuse the bags until the zipper dies or the bag gets a hole. Lettuce (and parsley, basil, chives, tarragon, oregano, savory, marjoram, chervil, and cilantro) will stay fresh this way for a couple of weeks or more as long as you keep it wrapped in a damp paper towel and sealed in a nearly air-free bag. I slice up a red onion and store it in a zippered sandwich bag (with air squeezed out) but the trick there is that I use Target's store brand zipper bags which have 2 zippers instead of one and that keeps the onion odor in the bag. I've tried this with single zipper bags and my fridge ends up reeking of onions. I store other prepped veg in plastic food storage containers. Air exposure seems to be less of an issue with those. Cucumbers are the one thing I haven't had luck with is cucumbers but they're easy to prep so that doesn't keep me from buying and using them.

    I keep potatoes, onions and garlic in baskets in my pantry. I keep bananas, avocados, and tomatoes on my counter. Sometimes I keep apples, pears, plums and peaches on the counter as well. I store winter squash (mostly spaghetti squash) in the basement (cool and dry) so I can buy it in season and have it year-round. I got in this habit years ago when you couldn't buy winter squash year-round. Now it's just cheaper to buy them in season and store them away so I continue to do it. It's also better for the planet for sure because the squash haven't been trucked in from hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

  9. HenrysMom A2MI July 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    Yay Mr. Q! Love that little red jalapeno pepper! And I mean that in the veggiest way (it sounds kind of bad otherwise) 🙂

    Oh geez, this makes me feel bad as my fridge is always a mess. I cannot make it public. I covet a Sub-Zero with glass doors but know in my heart I cannot keep it looking nice enough for people to visit!

  10. Annehueser July 21, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    Why do you keep your onions, garlic, and potatoes in the crisper?

  11. Anonymous July 21, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    No blog as of yet, but currently the crispers house Granny Smith apples, cherries (oh, the tears I will shed when cherry season is over), radiccio, fennel, romaine hearts, cucumbers and green peppers. The kitchen counter is home to tomatoes, and the kitchen table bowl has bananas, a head of garlic and a lemon.

  12. Mrs. Q July 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    @Henry'sMom — It's the little jalapeno that could! My husband was so proud of it (now that sounds kind of bad!)

    @Annehueser — I throw all veggies down there — should I not? Please enlighten me!

  13. Cindy July 21, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    How does anyone keep spinach good? If I buy a bag, I need to use it that day or the next (I only get groceries once a week, so this often doesn't work) or most of it goes bad. And even then, I don't use the whole bag at once, and the rest normally goes bad. I want to use fresh spinach in salads, but we don't have salads every day, so I end up getting one use out of a bag, if that. Help with ideas!

  14. Stepshep July 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Shrink-wrapped bell pepper? Huh. Like a shrink-wrapped banana but different.

  15. Daniel July 21, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

    @Mrs. Q
    Storing potatoes in the fridge increases starch conversion to sugar!

  16. CB July 21, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    I am a reformed onions, garlic, and potatoes in the crisper person. They store better in a cool, dark place. See http://www.ehow.com/how_3480_store-potatoes.html , http://www.ehow.com/how_2045269_store-garlic.html (Garlic is okay in the fridge, but really only needs it if you don't use it very quickly), and http://www.ehow.com/how_2087527_store-whole-onions.html

  17. Kathy July 21, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

    Mrs. Q, some vegetables and fruits undergo remarkably unfavorable changes in the refrigerator: onions, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, and peaches are among them. These items experience chemical changes that make them less tasty. Consider that root cellars were the only place people kept onions, potatoes, winter squash, etc., for many years. You're better off keeping these items in any cool, dry place. And yes, you can still use alliums and potatoes after they've sprouted, should you forget about them or buy too many at once.

    Our kitchen is brimming with mostly local produce these days; there's no way it all fits in two small drawers. We have a couple anaheims (that we grew on our balcony), a half-peck of cubanelles, spinach, carrots, patty pan squash, canteloupe, muskmelon, blueberries, nectarines, peaches, Bing cherries, avocadoes, tomatoes, beets, sweet corn, cilantro (bought this because ours bolted behind our back, but we have many other fresh herbs growing on the balcony), etc. We'll eat most of this as is, but we'll freeze or pickle some of it. In fact, we have brine-fermenting pickles in the fridge right now, and we're planning on pickling some of those cubanelles, too. Freezer jam may be the end of some of the fruit, too.

    Mrs. Q, about your surplus of grape jelly: was it freezer jelly? Just curious why it's in the fridge. Use jam and jelly as sweetener for smoothies, (homemade) dressings, and marinades, in and on breads of all kinds (including pancakes and the like), etc. Use it where you might use plain sugar or liquid sweeteners like honey, molasses, or sorghum. Not every substitution is appropriate, but experimentation is fun.

  18. MJS July 21, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

    I don't have a blog but my crisper contains: 1 bunch carrots, 2 bunches beets, 2 cukes, 2 zucchini, 2 tomatoes, tons of sweet peppers, big bunch basil, pint of edamame (in shell), 2 patty pan squash, several sprigs of rosemary and heads of garlic, and 1/2 doz small peaches. Until about noon I had a head of green cabbage, 1/2 head purple cabbage & an onion but I made coleslaw for dinner. 🙂 Yesterday was our CSA day so it's pretty crowded in there!

  19. Mrs. Q July 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    This is some great info! I had no idea. My mom is always trying to leave tomatoes out.

    Here's another question for you all — my husband likes cold fruit. But I like to leave fruit in a fruit bowl to snack on as I pass the kitchen. Does fruit NEED to be in the fruit? I don't like cold things touching my teeth so I have to suck it up when all our fruit is in the fridge. I also abhor ice in my water for that very reason. Room temp water suits me just fine!

  20. Viki July 21, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    I store potatoes and onions far away from each other. I'm sure there is a reason, and someone will tell us, but mom did it that way so I do. I do know that the potatoes will sprout quicker if the onions are close by.
    I also leave both out of the fridge unless they have been washed and cut.

    My crispers have beets, chard, kale, red top lettuce, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers,spinach, red onion slices, green onions.
    cherries, and grapes, cut up papaya.
    Tabletop/countertop: nectarines, plums apples bananas, mangos.
    Wow.
    Maybe we should just eat out of the veggie bins tonight.

  21. Anonymous July 21, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    I'm not food expert, but Alton Brown is, and he says you should store tomatoes on the counter, out of direct sunlight, because they lose flavor if they're refrigerated.

    I don't think you're supposed to refrigerate potatoes, either. Here's one site I found with some tips on veggie storage: http://www.vegetableexpert.co.uk/RefrigerationAndColdStorage.html

  22. WordVixen July 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Mrs. Q- we have the same problem. My husband not only refuses to eat any fruit that isn't ice cold, but insists that it will spoil if left out even overnight. Oy. I now keep most of it out, and put what he'll be eating in the fridge (basically, if I don't serve it to him, he'll just eat egg sandwiches for every meal, so I choose how much of what fruit he gets), and anything that looks like it really will spoil overnight. 🙂

    I have noticed that refrigeration doesn't seem to affect heirloom tomatoes as badly as it does the mass market produced stuff.

    Also, I have the same problem with cold and my teeth, or extreme temperature changes between foods. It isn't as bad if I use sensitive tooth paste, or since I've switched to a natural toothpaste, but I still prefer room temp.

  23. Chanel July 21, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    My crisper is sadly empty at the moment. You seem to eat interesting salads, so i wanted to share my recent salad creation with you.. it was so good!

    Spring Mix
    Strawberry slices
    Apple cubes
    Toasted pine nuts
    Sprinkle some feta cheese
    Top with Annie's Papaya Poppyseed dressing (from target)

    It was really the best salad I have ever had.

  24. Anonymous July 21, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    CSA and shopping day! Lots of organic produce! We eat a ton of veggies and almost no meat and I'll be cooking a meal for company so I bought extra.
    Fridge-Squash Mix, Little Gem Lettuce, Baby Lettuce and Herb Mix, 4 ears of Corn, Green Beans, Baby Broccoli, New Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Carrot, Lemons, Limes, Cucumbers and Tomatoes (If these are left out my cat will eat them!)
    Counter-Apples and Peaches
    Cupboard-Shallots, Garlic, Red Onion, Ginger and 1 tired looking sweet potato!

  25. Annehueser July 21, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    Others have explained the chemistry of why I store my garlic, onions, and potatoes outside of the refrigerator (as long as they're whole) in as cool and dark place as I can manage. I live in Florida so, during the summer, I buy fewer of these at a time and more frequently. During the winter I can get more at a time because they keep longer. Onions and potatoes do not play well together in their whole states so I store them separately so they each last longer.

    As far as the fruit goes, is there any reason why you can't have both fruit in a bowl on the counter/table and fruit in the crisper? If there is, maybe you could take out your fruit for the day first thing in the morning so it can warm up.

    Tomatoes are better when stored not in the refrigerator but here once it warms up, they go bad too quickly when left on the counter/table for more than a day. Right now I'm buying fewer tomatoes more frequently, sticking as much as possible to heirloom or whatever tomatoes actually smell like tomatoes at the store (my CSA is over until fall) or grape tomatoes that don't seem to be as affected by the cold of the refrigerator. I also take them out the morning of the day I plan to use them. When I do have to put tomatoes in the refrigerator, I don't put them in the crisper.

    In general I don't put root vegetables larger than my fist in the refrigerator if I plan to use them within a week. I do keep an eye on them and usually process them (roasting, shredding, whatever I plan to do to them) as soon as I can, since once processed they last for several more days in the refrigerator (and take up less space as well). Ones smaller than my fist generally come from my CSA and they get used as soon as possible anyway to make room for the next batch but they do better in the refrigerator but not the crisper (except for potatoes – they stay out no matter what).

    Everyone has to figure out what works best in their climate and kitchen/pantry configuration but it's worth doing some reading about how best to store veggies and fruit because they are not all alike in that respect.

  26. Annehueser July 21, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    Sorry for the double comment but I forgot something. I don't have a blog so no photo but here's the verbal version. One drawer has fruit (this week blueberries, cherries, and lemons), the other drawer has any veggies that are fair game for my husband's lunch salads (this week mixed lettuces, 2 tomatoes, celery, carrots, red peppers, some already chopped onion, and some herbs from our friends wrapped in damp paper towels). All other vegetables are stored on the bottom shelf. This week it's more red peppers, jalapenos, green onions, and spinach. The growing seasons are a little different here so I use many more frozen vegetables during the summer than any other time of year.

  27. lori July 21, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    first, i don't have a blog, so i'll have to list things.
    second, i actually don't use the crisper drawer. our fridge has really dark plastic shelves, like almost black. since i wouldn't remember what was down there, i'd be afraid of the science experiments that would result. instead, my roommate uses it to store beer before parties. 🙂

    anyway, on the open shelves are: romaine lettuce, a bag of salad mix that is 1/2 spinach and 1/2 other lettuces, carrots, broccoli, the last of a pint of blueberries, & part of a bulb of garlic. also, i have a container of roasted red peppers, a roasted zucchini, and roasted portabello mushrooms, all destined for veggie wraps.

    on the table are bananas, apricots, a cucumber, and tomatoes. the cucumber and tomatoes, most of which are cherry tomatoes, are from our garden, which also has a number of herbs we pick as needed.

  28. Kim July 22, 2010 at 12:22 am #

    Cindy, to keep well, spinach needs to be stored completely dry and sealed in a bag with as little air in the bag as possible so place it into a zipper bag and push out as much air as you can while you zip the bag shut. Water and air will make it deteriorate.

  29. Anonymous July 22, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    –Two killer uses for jelly/jam–

    1. Make Salad Dressing:
    1 T jam
    1/4 c vinegar
    1/2 c oil
    1 t mustard
    salt, pepper, garlic powder (to taste)
    Combine and serve

    2. Make a glaze for chicken:
    1 T jam
    Juice 1/2 – 1 lemon
    salt, pepper, garlic powder (to taste)
    Combine ingredients and drizzle onto baked chicken near end of cooking time. Cook chicken for an additional 15 minutes.

    I go through jars of jam very quickly using primarily those two recipes (I also like to stir jam into cups of hot black tea in place of sugar). I bet you could also thin it out with a bit of orange juice and heat it in a saucepan, then drizzle over ice cream. Yum!

  30. Sweet Virginia July 22, 2010 at 2:01 am #

    My use for the jam–I have a food-related business in which I make jam (I made 20 jars of peach today, 51 jars of grape, 7 jars of pear, 7 jars of plum, and 20 jars of plum-grape TODAY)–I use it to glaze hams at the holidays, or whenever we decide to get a ham. I buy the ones that are spiral sliced, but rather than use the nasty "honey" glaze packet that comes with them, I heat some homemade jam (blackberry is my favorite for this, but I've used all flavors) in the microwave, then brush it on and bake the ham for another 20-30 minutes. Delicious!

  31. Shannon July 22, 2010 at 2:32 am #

    I took pics, but need to post them. We're a family of 4–2 parents, 7 year old girl, 4 year old boy.

    On the counter:
    About a dozen yellow plums
    1 cantaloupe
    1 honeydew
    2 bananas

    Fridge shelf:
    2 containers strawberries
    2 containers blackberries
    1 container baby tomatoes
    1 bowl of black olives
    2 tupperware containers of already sliced watermelon

    Crisper drawer:
    2 peaches
    2 nectarines
    3 purple plums
    2 bags baby carrots
    1 bunch celery
    2 cucumbers
    3 zucchini
    1 apple
    1 onion
    1 bag of green grapes
    & oddly enough, 1 head of cabbage that was supposed to be lettuce & I was on the phone at the grocery store (wtf am I supposed to do with cabbage???)

  32. Anonymous July 22, 2010 at 4:31 am #

    The reason the jalapenos vary in spice is because of genetics. Each plant gets a different set of genes from its parents, so unless plants are cloned, the spice level can be variable. A similar thing is true with apples. If you don't clone your apples from an appetizing parent, the genes get randomized and you can end up with something inedible.

  33. Jineta July 22, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    Everyone who has mentioned garlic seems to have it in clove or powdered form. I was wondering if anyone else does what my family does. My father grows our garlic, in fact he inherited the bulbs from my grandfather. Essentially I've been eating the same garlic all my life. Anyways once a year he digs up the garlic and sorts it into save for next year and peel now piles. Then he peels all the garlic and runs it through the food processor to with a little olive oil to get a paste about the consistency of butter. We put this paste in pint containers and freeze it. Then when we want fresh garlic there's always a container in the fridge. Does anyone else prepare their garlic for easy use or do you peel a clove every time you need garlic in a recipe?

  34. emaline July 22, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Love this post Mrs. Q! Makes me really think. As I am still living with my parents I don't really have much control over what they buy. I am a vegetarian so I try to get veggies when I can. Currently in "my fridge drawer" I have apples, carrots, spinach, half a lime, a lemon, and bag of salad mix. I also have a bag of baby red potatos on top of the fridge.

  35. Kathy July 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    Jineta, in our house, we peel and chop/mince/slice garlic each time we need it. It's no more work than your method, there's no waiting for thawing, and we prefer the flavor of fresh. I do see the value in your method, though; I certainly appreciate wanting to preserve home-grown stuff that way.

  36. Chelle July 23, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    You could make a cole slaw with the cabbage, or make stuffed cabbage.

    Here is how I make stuffed cabbage:
    Cook up about a cup of rice not quite done. Mix up a meatloaf (or meatball) mixture and mix the rice into it.

    Boil the cabbage just enough to be able to peel the leaves off. The best way I've found is the boil until the first comes off, take it off, put it back and boil a few more minutes, then take the next leaf off, etc….

    Take a small fist full of the meat/rice mixture, put it in the cabbage leaf and roll it like you would a sandwich wrap. How much meat you use really depends on the size of the cabbage leaf you have.

    Lay the stuffed cabbags leaves in a baking dish, pour in one to two small cans tomato sauce, put in a bay leave, and bake on 350 for about a half hour or so (or until the meat is cooked).

  37. Monica July 23, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    no pictures, but here's what's in mine:

    Fruit drawer: nectarines, apples, grapes
    Veggie drawer: whole onions
    Shelves: containers with chopped onion, chopped green pepper, sliced cucumber, baby carrots
    Counter: tomatoes

    I prep as much as I can at once, so that it'll be ready for the next time I use it or for snacking. The grapes later today I'll wash in a colander and put in a bowl in the fridge for easy access. We do sometimes have trouble with things going bad – usually because we plan to use something, and then get invited out to dinner w/friends and don't eat at home. Also because I'm not used to regular grocery produce again yet. We moved a couple months ago, and at our last place we had an organic delivery service that brought us a selection of produce every other week. They had a 48-hour-or-less turnaround, and they sourced as locally as possible, so the stuff was a lot fresher than grocery produce. I'm still readjusting to having to plan more carefully – I got used to produce that lasted for two, three, or even four weeks! I miss it! (and for Boston-area readers, Bostonorganics.com is the service – I loved it)

    To the readers who've said that things like onions and potatoes shouldn't be kept in the fridge: any suggestions for how to store them if you don't have a reliably cool, dark place? My parents always stored potatoes in our garage when I was a kid, but I don't have a garage – I have kitchen cabinets, and they get too warm.

  38. Anonymous July 23, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    Just a note to everyone saying they can't post a pic because they don't have a blog (and don't want to create one just for this purpose), and also for your future reference Mrs. Q:

    I'm not sure if that link widget requires that the link go to a blog (I don't know why it would), but if it doesn't, another option would be to take the picture and host it on a free image hosting site such as imageshack.com or imagecave.com or photobucket.com, etc. and they'll give you a link that you can post.

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