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Dealing with the "F" Word
How to stop your crisper from freezing everything. Stupid crisper.

I never did get sick from it

Several years ago I made what can only be described as a suspicious sandwich. I was a teenager and still living with my parents at the time.  At this not so shining moment in my culinary history, my mother wasn’t at home to tell me not to do what I was about to do.  So I did do it. I made and ate a sandwich comprised of mouldy bread, mouldy cheese, rusty lettuce and slightly greenish processed meat.  It was all I could find in the fridge and I did cut off all of the really furry bits.   In my defense I was quite hungry.

And if I’m going to be perfectly honest,  my mother Betty probably wouldn’t have thought twice about the sandwich.  She’s pretty much convinced anything can be eaten and nothing goes bad.  She’s like a goat that woman.  Conversations growing up went something like this.  Karen:  Mom … I think this blue cheese is expired, it’s getting kind of runny. Mom:  Oh … it’s fine,  that’s not blue cheese anyway, it’s a peach. It’s still loads of bonding fun for my sisters and I to go around my mom’s kitchen laughing hysterically at the expiry decades on everything.  Don’t accept a glass of  Creme de Menthe if my mom ever offers it to you, by the way.  1972.  I’m just sayin’

So where am I going with all of this?  Well, I’ve been cursed with rotten food again.  And it’s all the fault of my stupid fridge instead of my stupid self.  You see, I have one of those refrigerators with the freezer on the bottom, that were fancy about 10 years ago.   You know … the kind you have to press your face onto the kitchen floor to get the ice cube tray out of.  Yeah …. one of those.

Arghhh!!!!!!!

Well the other problem with having the freezer directly below the fridge is that everything in the crisper drawers freeze.  I open the crisper drawer vents and everything freezes.  I close the vents and everything freezes.  I tried every combination in between and still … everything would freeze solid!  The rest of my fridge is always completely full so I had nowhere else to put the fruit and vegetables.  Those poor oranges made it through the freeze in Florida only to be killed by my murdering crisper.

The next bit of information I am about to give you is to be held in complete confidence because it is both embarassing and stressful.  Once I say it, we are never to mention it again for the sake of my mental health.

I estimate I wasted about $10 worth of produce a week with this crisper problem.  That works out to $520 a year, which is bad.  But  not nearly as bad as the $6,240 over the lifetime of that STUPID, STINKING, MONEY SUCKING, LETTUCE FREEZING FRIDGE!  Now do that twisty motion at your pursed mouth and throw away the key.

I came up with a solution.  It took me over a decade but I did it.  And in case you too are losing thousands of dollars in frozen celery, here it is:

Materials:

Styrofoam-type insulation – $7.50  (I bought a broken piece from a hardware store but you could try to use regular packing styrofoam.  I like to do things in the extreme)

X-Acto Knife

Measuring Tape

1.

Remove your drawers

Take everything out of your crispers and clean them.  Yes.  These are clean.  A little smudgy maybe, but clean. Cleaner than they were anyway.

2.

inches, centimeters, centimetres, whatever you like.

Measure the bottom and back of your drawer.  Mine measured 11.25″ X 8.25″ and 11.25″ X 5.25″.  In case you were wondering.

3.

Cracking the styrofoam is as much fun as getting a perfect Saran Wrap seal.

Measure and cut your styrofoam.  Obviously I cut my 2 pieces to be 11.25 X 8.25 and 11.25 X 5.25.  Duh.  Use your X-Acto knife for this.  Just score the board and then snap it.  You’ll get the cleanest cuts this way.  Cutting lengthwise your cuts will be perfect.  Cutting horizontally, across the grain the cuts will look rougher.  You can try sawing with the X-Acto knife for the horizontal cuts if the snapping thing is making too messy of a break.

4.

Stick em in

Stick your cut pieces into the bottom and back of the drawer.  See where this is going now?  The insulation prevents the super-cold radiating from the freezer below from freezing the food in your crisper.  I know!  I was pretty impressed with myself when I thought of this.  After 12 years.  Is it pretty?  Not so very much, but neither is a frozen solid leek 4 minutes before you’re about to make soup.

5.

now you gots yourself a pattern

As long as your first 2 pieces fit, use them as a pattern to cut the pieces for your other crisper drawer.

6.

Just in case

Pink insulation board isn’t supposed to be toxic, but neither was thalidomide so I cover it with waxed paper just in case.   Just change it out once it starts to get gross.  How often this is depends on how much tolerance you have to slimy things at the bottom of your crisper drawer.

7.

Fill 'er up.

Load the crispers back up and stick them back in the fridge.  (am I oversimplifying here?)

I discovered this solution about 6 months ago and I haven’t frozen anything since.  Now the only vegetables I throw out are the ones that rot naturally over a reasonable period of time.  Unless my mother wants them.


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45 Comments | Filed Under: Kitchen | Tags: , , , ,

45 Responses to Dealing with the "F" Word
How to stop your crisper from freezing everything. Stupid crisper.

  1. Tricia Rose says:

    A girl after my own heart. No point in getting wussy about germs.
    Why don’t you just get a new fridge you cheap broad?

  2. Langela says:

    Just found your blog by way of your comment posted at PW. I liked your blog name so I headed over.

    This post cracks me up and reminds me of a conversation with my Grandma. She is always the one to call with questions about what is the right thing to do…i.e. how to cook things correctly, thank you notes, etiquette, etc. Anyway, so I called her and asked how long past the expiration date are eggs good for. She was speechless at first. I am sure it was because she couldn’t believe someone related to her would have any reason to even want to know that. Then, ever-classy-lady that she is, she responds, “Well, dear, I never have them to the expiration date, so I can’t help you with that one. Is this a problem you have? (ever hoping I was asking for someone not related to her!)” “yep”
    “Well, how far past the date are they?”
    “Over a month.”
    “Oh dear!”
    She continues to this day, many years later, to tease me about it. If something is rotten or moldy, etc, she justs suggests I have it because I am not bothered by old food. She is the perfect combination of classy and sassy!

  3. Susan Margaret says:

    I feel like such a dolt!
    This has been happening to everything in my crisper drawer (for more than a year now))) and it NEVER occured to me that it’s coming from the freezer down below!
    Thanks for saving my veggies.

    • Karen says:

      Well thank the Lord someone else had this problem! I wrote this post thinking I’d be completely inundated with emails and comments of thanks. Possibly people would send me gifts and fruit baskets in appreciation. Maybe a small parade with candy floss and those big circle shaped confettis. Nothing. Nobody seemed to really care about the freezing crisper situation. SO THANK YOU FOR NEEDING THIS POST! Let me know if you try the styrofoam trick and how it works for you. It’s been fantastic for me!

      • Susan Margaret says:

        I’m the only one? OK, NO pressure… just looking around for any available parade floats. Or can ya help me rustle up one of those? haha… just kidding.

        I found a scrap piece of the pink insulation in my basement and will try to cut that into pieces to fit the drawers. It might take me a while to clean out my fridge though. I’ve tried avoiding it all month, but I can’t pretend it’s clean any more. ;P

  4. Hilary says:

    My dad is the same way. I always say that my mom, brother, sister and I are immune to food poisoning because of Dad’s propensity for cooking meat that is waaaaay past its expiration date. We could eat a raw moldy steak marinated in pond water and come out feeling better.

  5. Debbie says:

    Yikes! Just got a brand new Bosch fridge last summer and I have been leaving the entire bottom drawer empty since I dicovered it freezes everything. SOmetimes I throw some meat in there. This is genius! Can’t wait to try it. Love your blog – you are a unique voice in the blogosphere.

  6. calista says:

    I stumbled onto your blog this morning and I find it bookmark-worthy. You’re hilarious!

    This post reminds me of the time that Brother and I baked a birthday cake to celebrate the discovery of a litre of lemon juice in Mom’s fridge that had expired a year before. Oh, how we laughed! All day! Mom didn’t laugh, but it’s not our fault she hasn’t got a sense of humour.

  7. Jane says:

    Wow, after an entire week I think I have finally read all your posts! Magical – especially your backyard makeover. Just beautiful. I think you’re a bloody genius with this idea too! I always wanted one of those types of fridges with the freezer below, but now I think I would rather have a separate freezer. Thanks for all your wonderful tips and tricks!

    • Karen says:

      Jane! I can’t believe you’ve read all the posts in a week. That’s dedication! Thanks. And if you liked the posts, please … pass it on. ~ karen

  8. Penny Barrott says:

    Thanks for the information. Even though my freezer is on the top, the lettuce still wilts and dies along with the celery unless I am quick. (We eat lots of salads – even the dog eats salads). I was so desperate that I thought getting a new fridge would be the solution… This is much cheaper!

    Thanks so much. Cheers, Penny

  9. Sarah says:

    You ROCK! I will be trying this ASAP. My folks bought a new fridge just over a year ago. My mom is a in her 70′s and wanted one of the “trendy” freezer on the floor fridges. I go over and offer to cook and the fridge is a disaster because they can’t put anything in the crispers. I’ve been looking for a solution. I definitely will be trying yours out.

    Thanks!

  10. Del says:

    I have been cursing my freezer for years and those that made it. It gets kinda warm over here in Australia in summertime and the fridge gets turned up and the crisper becomes an artic wasteland. I am so glad you’re clever and I have found you. I wish I could send you a parade. This kind of thinking is what will save the world! Your name will go down in history. Just imagine how many of these fridges are out there causing vegetable mayhem. Do you have a cape? I could make you one of those – green with the letters CC – Crisper Crusader. Or any letters of you preference.
    (Crushing hug and peck on the cheek)

  11. SusieQ says:

    Haha,, you saved me from bashing my fridge in (not really).. I did put the styrofoam on top of the freezer which is on the bottom but I like this detailed plan better!

  12. Sarah says:

    Pure genius idea. I’ll be trying this ASAP. Thanks!

  13. Blondie says:

    Hmmmm, my food never freezes and I have a freezer on the bottom. Maybe they make them better these days.

  14. Penney says:

    Brilliant – I’ve been wondering if my vegetable crisper freezes because that side of the freezer below is completely jammed up with mystery packages. The fruit crisper works fine. Now I can stop wondering and just fix the vegetable one.

  15. FLP says:

    Thanks. After seven years of frozen apples,carrots, etc., repeated service calls,I gave up and started to store milk in the crisper. We are about to redo the kitchen and I was looking forward to ditching this veggie destroyer. Now I am not so sure. Thanks.

  16. Claudia says:

    I just put the insulation in my vegetable crisper drawer, I’m guessing this might just do the trick. Seems like a very reasonable and appropriate solution. I have been SOOO frustrated and mad at my refrigerator for years, maybe this will rekindle our relationship. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are a genius.

  17. Irene says:

    You are brilliant! Had phoned Westinghouse to ask advice on *F* and was told “We don’t do that any more. You’ll have to have a service call at megabucks, etc.” Found your site trawling Google – problem solved. My styrofoam much thinner that yours but it works!!! Thank you so much.

  18. Susan Bosscawen says:

    Just a quick note that’s 3 years too late for this post but thought you might be interested and it doesn’t even relate to frozen produce. I picked up some plastic food containers at TJMaxx. The kind with four flaps that seal and don’t leak. I went back and bought all they had they worked so well. Then I went online and found more at NeatlySmart.com. These things have nano-silver particles inside the plastic, are BPA & BPS free and food lasts 3-4 times longer than in plastic baggies or regular plastic. The link is http://www.neatlysmart.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=110870&catid=1203. I’ve kept fresh mushrooms for 2-3 weeks and they were still creamy white on the inside & crisp. There’s even a YouTube video about them. I tossed all my old containers and use these exclusively. The only thing I don’t really like is they don’t stack well–bulky in the cabinet. I don’t know this company but this product delivers.

    • Karen says:

      Well as the saying goes Susan, better late than never, LOL. Besides. It’s never really too late to comment. ;) ~ karen!

  19. Nerilie says:

    Bought a Bosch frige freezer combo a couple of years ago, all because of the ice maker, have hated it for the same length of time. It has a full length 10cm deep drawer between the crisper and freezer and still the ‘F” thing happens, all veggies and cheese, butter and small goods too. I really really hate this thing. I thought it was a tropics in Australia thing and European brand clash. Plan on selling house with megabucks frige included. Will try the styrofoam idea, thanks

  20. Susan says:

    Nice. I’ll try this. I’ve been on an experiment all summer to see how little of my weekly CSA box I can use up, and this past week, I lost nearly everything to crisper freeze. Thanks for the tip.

  21. Jim Wolverton says:

    Thanks Karen! My wife has been complaining about this for at least a decade. She’s tried all sorts of ideas. I measured the temp in the fridge yesterday where she had the lettuce setting when it froze the day before, and she has it set to 50°. How could anything freeze at that temperature?! In fact, if it has to be that warm, why even have a fridge? I could unplug it, set it outside and keep things an even 40°, or thereabouts, for free.

    I decided I was going to resolve this. My way is first to search the internet. I’ve probably read a hundred suggestions and ideas so far and you are the first one I see that thought of this (the only thing we haven’t already tried), and I have a feeling it’s right on. Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jim. It is right on. It’ll work. I know of course because I, like you, kept having frozen lettuce! And I no longer have frozen lettuce. :) ~ karen!

  22. Julia says:

    Thank you for such a great tip, I’m definitely going to try it. We have had two older side by sides in two different homes and always have frozen, wasted veges.

  23. Mandy says:

    I have a side by side but everything in the bottom crisper seems to freeze. I will give this a try. Thanks :)

  24. Tara Heelan says:

    Found your solution after reading that the fridge is cooled by circulating cold air from the freezer below. Your solution still didn’t occur to me until I read your post… My name is Tara, and I’ve been wasting produce for three years.

    • Karen says:

      Dear Tara. Welcome. We don’t judge here and we meet every Wednesday in the Church basement. Bring cookies. ~ karen!

  25. Bill Dailey says:

    First off I will agree with the “it’s never too late” statement. Though this article is quite dated I found it to be very useful. After throwing out a head of lettuce, a green pepper, and a cucumber last night , I decided to do a search on the subject. It wasn’t until I added bottom freezer to my search that I found this. Being a farmer and a bit of a handyman I immediately began thinking of a better solution given the large amount of space lost to the thick insulation. I soon recalled having some extra foam rubber tool drawer liners. They ended up being about 22″ long and 16″ wide. I cut about 4″ off of the edge of two of them. The remaining 12″ sheet pushed right down into the drawer bottom. The ends extend up most of the back and about a third of the way up the front. This could be slid front to back as desired. I left it just a little wide so that as I pushed it in it basically stayed flat to all sides with a tight fit in the corner. I pushed the corners down as much as possible with a putty knife but it really wasn’t needed. I don’t know that this will solve the freeze problem but I’m optimistic. Thanks for the helpful hints and hopefully my suggestion will prove helpful as well. I will try to update after a time trial.

    • Karen says:

      Glad to be able to help Bill. And thanks for the tip! I just got rid of my bottom freezer fridge this weekend! Hopefully my new one won’t have the same problem. Good luck with your modification. ~ karen!

      • Bill Dailey says:

        Well it’s been about 6 weeks since I installed the tool box liners in my fridge drawers and to date I have not lost one item due to freezing. I would call that a successful solution so thanks again for the tip that pointed me in the right direction Karen.

  26. Stan McIntyre says:

    Karen,
    I was another frustrated person with crispers freezing my veggies and fruit, in the bottom freezer fridge. No more, did exactly as you said and showed in the pictures, works great!

    Thanks

    • Karen says:

      Excellent! I must say coming up with that solution was one of my prouder moments, lol. And I’m thrilled every time someone says they implemented it themselves. :) Thanks for letting me know. ~ karen!

  27. Debra says:

    Just looked for an answer to this problem. And DUH, what brilliance!! It is genious! I too have tried everything. From frozen to the bottom towels, which pick up the slimies, to sink liners under the drawers. I need all the room I can get in the drawer so I think I will put the strofoam under them with a thin towel under. Tell ya my results. Thank you SO much

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