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.
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:
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)
Take everything out of your crispers and clean them. Yes. These are clean. A little smudgy maybe, but clean. Cleaner than they were anyway.
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.
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.
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.
As long as your first 2 pieces fit, use them as a pattern to cut the pieces for your other crisper drawer.
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.
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.