Set your crisper drawer for your produce
I have produce drawers in my refrigerator, and while I always put veggies on one side and fruit on the other, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I have no idea which humidity setting to use for any of my produce. I have low to high settings, with a lot of choices in between. — Lynn, California
For the most part, fruits should be stored in low humidity, vegetables in high humidity. Think of it like this: You want your lettuce, celery and other leafy vegetables to have some moisture so they don’t dry out or get limp, while you want your grapes to have low humidity so they don’t mold and rot. I would keep fruits and vegetables separate because some fruits (apples, avocados, bananas, pears, peaches, plums, cantaloupes, honeydew melons and tomatoes) emit ethylene gas, and some fruits and vegetables emit odors that can be absorbed by other produce.
As for the multiple settings of high, low and medium on your crisper drawers, the lever is simply the control for an opening that keeps moisture in or out. Break it down like this: High humidity for leafy greens, beans, cucumbers, asparagus, broccoli and celery; medium humidity for things like tomatoes and citrus fruits; low humidity for garlic, onions and squash. For more specifics, consult your fridge’s manual or contact the manufacturer’s customer service line.
Some fruits and vegetables do fine without refrigeration. I keep a lot of produce in fruit bowls on the kitchen counter or dining room table, and I store some vegetables in metal mesh baskets. I keep cut celery in a jar of water so it stays crispy and is easy to grab on the go.
What’s the threshold that has to be hit before you turn the air conditioner on in your house? Do you wait for a certain date? Do you wait until it hits a certain temperature inside the house? — Nichole, Iowa
The weather is too unpredictable for me to go by a certain month before I turn it on. I can tolerate it being pretty hot inside my house by spending more time in our finished basement, where it stays nice and cool. Our air conditioner was broken last year for a short while, and I felt like I was really suffering. I’m embarrassed by how I ranted over it, considering that I didn’t have air conditioning at all as a kid, and I don’t remember ever complaining or being uncomfortable. I’ve become spoiled by air conditioning, and when I feel uncomfortable, I turn it on. I do have plenty of fans, and I use them to create a nice cross breeze when it’s not unbearably hot. But at this point in my life, I adjust my thermostat to a comfortable level. It’s not the most frugal approach, but when temperatures are in the 90s and I am home, my air conditioning is on. We also spend a lot of time at the beach, where the temps are cooler and there’s a wonderful breeze. Here are a few frugal tips to help you beat the summer heat: frugalvillage.com/2009/07/09/beat-summer-heat-on-a-budget.
We have a really cute teakettle that sits on top of the stove, but now it has a layer of greasy grossness on it. Running it through the dishwasher didn’t help; it still looks gross. Any tips for getting rid of the grease? — Maisie, email
Without knowing the material your kettle is made from, you can soak it in a sink of hot water and Dawn dishwashing liquid, then use a nylon scrubber, or apply a baking soda and vinegar paste and scrub it with a nylon scrubber and rinse with hot water. Both methods will work. Bar Keeper’s Friend will work, too. Avoid harsh chemicals or scrub pads that could harm the outside of the kettle.