Domestic Engineering!

So, to all you highly skilled domestic engineers out there. I need your expertise!

So, I put anything into my fridge and the damn thing rots in a frigging heartbeat. I put bread in the drawer and the shit sprouts leaves. Can you guys tell me the inside tricks to actaul having a chance to eat my food, and not scrape it off the bottom of the crisper?

For example, whats the best thing to do with bread? Is it best stored in the dark or light, sealed in a ziploc or just in the bag?

What about lettuce? The stuff you get precut in the bags has a half-life of about 6 hours. I keep it in the fridge, I’ve tried using a ziploc bag, tupperware, bag clips, put it on a shelf, in the crisper, everything. How do I make that stuff keep longer than over night?

And what exactly does a crisper do? I have a nice fridge, it has the crispers with the little slide controls on it. They supposedly adjust the humidity. What should I store at high humidity, what should I keep at low humidity? Is the lettuce best kept dry, or wet, chopped or whole, in a head, or in a bag?

Help a poor inexperienced guy.

I’m a private chef and have studied food science.

Bread - dry is the key. In the light/dark doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, but basically warmth and wetness = mold = dead bread.

Lettuce - rip the damn leaves off yourself. More surface area = more air hitting plant tissue = quick rotting. Buy a full head of lettuce and rip off the outer leaves.

Crisper - Humidity control. Less humidity = crisper veggies. It depends on the fruit/veggie on crisper/non-crisper…fridge or non-fridge…

I recommend “On Food and Cooking” - a tome of 1,000 pages by Harold McGee - anything and everything you want to know about food is in there - and its easy reading.


It might be a good idea to do a real thorough cleaning of your fridge. I have absolutely no scientific basis for saying this, but I’ll bet that you have some extra-bad-food-rotting-bacteria floating around in there. So, clean it out good, and use some kind of a disinfectant on it.

Also, the temperature of your fridge may be too high. Do you have a thermometer that you could stick in there?

Do you keep an open box of baking soda in your fridge? You should. It absorbs odors. Just don’t use it for baking once it has been in there a while.

And just about any pre-cut vegetables will wilt faster than whole ones. But, since I eat salad a lot, and I like mixed greens, I usually prepare enough salad greens for 2 or 3 days, spin them in the salad spinner, and put the whole salad spinner in the fridge. They keep just fine. (There is some ventilation in the salad spinner)

Good luck.

Have you tried plugging your 'fridge in?


With your bread… when getting some out of the bag, be conscious of both air and hand induced contamination. Wash your hands before opening the bag. Have the bag open for as little time as possible, and try not to move the bag around while it’s open. Open… get bread… close. Also, store it somewhere cool and dry as mentioned above.

Things are random only insofar as we don’t understand them.

Wow! Thanks, Steve-o! I have been wondering how to do that! :wink:

For just about all foods: air tight containers and refrigeration. This reduces a food’s chance for ‘infection’ with molds and bacteria. Tight sealing also keeps food from drying out.

I always keep bread in the fridge and always make sure that the plastic surrounding it is sealed tightly (I also gently squeeze out extra air before resealing the bag). White bread can last a week this way, and dry breads like English muffins or pita bread can last up to three weeks!

The exception to the rule is vegetables. They have plenty of inherent moisture and sealing them in an air tight containers makes them go mushy. That’s what the crisper is for. It keeps veggies dry and cool. Veggies are more mold and bacteria resistant than processed foods since they have to live in the wild.

However, as been mentioned, one contaminated food item can infect the others. One bad apple does spoil the whole bunch (girl!). It sounds like your fridge is a TB ward. Clean it out and start over again.

Also, don’t leave food you take out of the fridge sitting out for a long time, where ubiquitous molds can land on it. Take out the bowl of lasagna, dish out some onto your plate to throw in the microwave and then immediately recover the rest of the lasagna and put it back in the fridge.


I have never had this problem… food seems to last forever. Bread will last for weeks with no special treatment.

I do keep the thermostat so that the upper part of the fridge is at about freezing point. Things do not freeze because you need to go below 32F to freeze anything that is not pure water. Lower down the temperature is higher (of course) but still colder that other people’s fridges.

Bread I keep well sealed and will last for ages. Fruit and vegetables well aired at the bottom. (of course there’s the ocassional tomato or fruit that goes soft and moldy but they are the exception)

Milk will also last a long time. I am single and buy 2 gallons at a time so I do not need to shop often. I have noticed though that in the summer it will not last so long and my theory is that it is due to lack of refrigeration along the way (it shouldn’t be that way but it is the only explanation).

Hot dogs, cheese, etc will also last me long time… never had a problem.

Just to expand on the prior post - most fruits do better outside the fridge - if it grows on a tree or in the ground, it’s better off outside the fridge. If it grows on a bush, or on a plant above the ground, in general it goes in the crisper.

And a note on bread - airtightness isn’t necessarily the best way to go. When I make bread, I use a commercial breadbox (Wanda’s breadbox) that is clear plastic with a few holes poked in the side. My bread lasts at least a week.

I don’t use crispers at all. You see, once the veggies are in the opaque crisper I forget about them when I’m preparing dinner. If I forget about them for a whole week, they go bad.

If I leave them sitting on the shelf, I remember them, and I eat them (always the best way to keep food from going bad)!

I’m a political prisoner trapped in a windowless cage
Cuz I stopped the slaughter of turnips by killing five men in a rage.