Should be kept vegetables in plastic bags

How to store vegetables in the refrigerator: in plastic bags or not?

My wife and I have a debate similar to this:

I claim it is better to take the fresh vegetables out of the bags and put them in the crisper with humidity control because:

  1. This is what the Crisper with moisture control is intended for.
  2. If they are in the (plastic) bag, the humidity control is pointless.
  3. It's easier to spot vegetables at an early stage of rot (it doesn't feel right to throw away a whole bag of rotten cucumbers or zucchini before we have a chance to enjoy them).
  4. It's more pleasing to the eye. It's more convenient.

She claims that putting the fresh vegetables in their supermarket bags is better when they are put in the refrigerator because she could swear she noticed that if they stayed in her pockets, they would rot more slowly.

As you can see from the few links in this question, I have tried doing my own search on the subject, but all of the answers appear to be opinions or "experiences", not none authoritative Answer that on scientific Research or knowledge.

So I hope that with the help of biology professionals (or students) I can finally get one authoritative Answer to the question: do vegetables really last longer if they are kept in the plastic bags (supermarket) when they are put in the crisper?

Update : I found this formal excerpt from the refrigerator's manual:

Low (open) lets moist air out of the vegetables in order to optimally store fruits and vegetables with peelings.

  • fruit : Wash, let dry and store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or crispy. Do not wash or peel berries until they are ready to use. Sort the berries and keep them crispy in the original container or in a loosely sealed paper bag on a refrigerator shelf.
  • Vegetables with bowls : Put in a plastic bag or container and store more crispy.

High (closed) keeps moist air in the crisper for the best storage of fresh leafy vegetables.

  • Leafy vegetables : Wash in cold water, drain and cut off or tear off any cut or discolored areas. Place in a plastic bag or container and store crispier.

While this seems a bit more relevant (since it comes from the manufacturer of the refrigerator), it still leaves a few questions unanswered:

If leafy vegetables should be "put in a plastic bag or container and stored crispy", why should the humidity be set to "high"? How does moisture get the lettuce into the plastic bag or container? (Is it sealed?)

Assuming some moisture gets into the bag, why is the bag needed? Why not let the humidity flow freely?


Apples and other types of fruit use ethene as a hormone that promotes ripening. They give it up and use it themselves - but it can affect the fruit around them once it's in the air. I don't know if vegetables use the same mechanism, but maybe that will lead you to find some things.

Eternal learner

@Armatus That's a great tip. I wish I had enough points to vote your comment. To simplify my question, I'll try to focus on vegetables only, but the truth is we use the refrigerator for crispier fruits and vegetables. Your answer might suggest that if we keep each fruit / vegetable in its own bag, then it may slow down the ripening / putrefaction? If so, by how long? It's really fascinating.


If you kept just one type of fruit it wouldn't do much - you would no longer "pool" your ethene, but you would still accumulate your own in your pocket. However, using bags to separate different types of fruit can prevent apples from spoiling bananas quickly. I haven't read this in a scientific context though, I'm not sure where I got it from :)

Gianpaolo R.

You might want to do a science experiment on your own refrigerator. That would be the most authoritative source for your own terms. Just divide the same vegetable into two groups (with or without a bag) and consume after a few days. Repeat the experiment at least three times. If you can find differences, you have the evidence. If you can't find any differences, forget the puzzle and make peace with your wife.


If you put ripe fruits in the same bag with fruits that use the same hormones to ripen, they will all ripen faster than if you keep the unripe ones in a separate bag. There are roughly 4-5 classes of fruits by their hormones, although new subclasses and mechanisms are still being discovered.


Based on what I could find on the USDA website: Refrigeration and Food Safety

It is better to take the food out of the bags and put it in the crisper if you are going to use the crisper for vegetables only:

Some refrigerators have special features like adjustable shelves, door bins, crispers, and meat / cheese drawers. These functions are intended to simplify the storage of food and provide an optimal storage environment for fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and cheese.


Sealed, sharper drawers provide an optimal storage environment for fruit and vegetables. Vegetables require higher humidity while fruits require lower humidity. Some crispers are equipped with controls that allow the consumer to adjust the humidity of each drawer.

If you keep your belongings in the bag, the purpose of these special compartments is defeated. It's a shame that the USDA doesn't specifically address the issue of bags ...