Refrigerator Drawers
October 9, 2004 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Besides the spatial utility, does a meat/deli/cheese drawer in a refrigerator serve a purpose?

I'm looking at fridges--standard, midpriced ones, not fancy 22-cubic-foot bubbas--and many lack the deli drawer. I'm used to having one and didn't want to go without.

But I'm wondering whether the drawer does anything for the food in it, or if it's just a convenient place to stash flat items. The models I'm considering don't have special airflow mechanisms as far as I can tell (although the fruit and vegetable drawers have humidity sliders, which I also wonder about).

Will my sliced turkey and Polly-O packs suffer on a regular shelf?
posted by werty to Home & Garden (2 answers total)
Those drawers may, at the least, keep your deli stuff from getting contaminated by or contaminating the other things in the fridge (smell-wise).
posted by crazy finger at 1:55 PM on October 9, 2004

From Cheryl Mendelson's Home Comforts:
"Frostless and self-defrosting refrigerators tend to have uniform temperatures throughout. But the coldest place in many refrigerators is likely to be the bottom, because heat rises. The meat drawer is often thought of as the coldest spot, but it may or may not be so. In manually defrosted refrigerators, in which the meat tray is right under the freezer, this may be the case. (If you are in doubt, use your thermometer to find out.) The bottom of your refrigerator, too, may not be much colder than the top nowadays because fans in many refrigerators circulate the air and keep the temperature much more uniform. The difference between the bottom and top of my own refrigerator is only one degree. Wherever your refrigerator is coolest, and at the back of the shelf, is where you should keep fish, fresh meats, poultry, milk, and other fresh dairy products, as well as any other foods that need cold temperatures. (Remember that fish spoils even more readily than meat; it should always be kept very cool.) Ideally, all these would be stored just above freezing, at 33 or 34 degrees F. (Don't let them freeze.) But if your refrigerator will not keep things this cold, do not worry; they keep well as long as temperatures are at 40 degrees F or below. Most leftovers should also be kept at 40 degrees F or below."
(although the fruit and vegetable drawers have humidity sliders, which I also wonder about).

"The most humid places in your refrigerator are likely to be the fruit and vegetable drawers; being closed, they retain moisture that evaporates from the produce they contain. If your model as a lever for controlling the humidity, it probably works by closing or opening air holes. The bad news, however, is that these drawers often to do not really make much of a difference. Using a hygrometer, I found throughout my refrigerator a relative humidity considerably lower than ideal. Depending upon the day and what was stored, the relative humidity of my refrigerator shelves ranged from about 55 percent to 40 percent, and in produce drawers from 85 percent to 40 percent. When I called the manufacturer to inquire about this, I was told that low refrigerator humidity, even in produce drawers, is typical. And many refrigerators provide even less humidity than mine because they recirculate air from the freezer into the refrigeration compartment, and the frigid freezer air is exceedingly dry.

Thus your refrigerator air is likely to be quite dry, unless you accidentally (and temporarily) steam it up by putting in, say, a bowl of hot soup without a tight cover. Cover hot or warm liquids; you don't want odors or steam condensing in your refrigerator. Circulating dry refrigerator air helps discourage mold, but it can also dry and shrivel, harden, or impart odors to foods and fresh produce that are left uncovered."
posted by jbrjake at 4:46 PM on October 9, 2004

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