Why do you need a freshness zone and how products are stored in it

Against the background of numerous additional functions of a modern refrigerator, the main thing, like many years ago, remains the preservation of the freshness of products. A high-quality compressor, as well as a well-thought-out design, are integral parts that allow for long-term storage of products, and the presence of a freshness zone will further increase this period.

What is a freshness zone
The freshness zone is a separate compartment in the refrigerating chamber, where the necessary microclimate is maintained for a longer storage of food. Optimal conditions allow vegetables and fruits to retain vitamins longer, stay fresh and juicy, and not lose their original appearance. The decomposition processes of products slow down and, depending on the type of product, its shelf life can be increased several times.

The freshness zone is also often referred to as the zero zone due to the lower temperature compared to other parts of the refrigeration compartment. Temperature and humidity are the main factors in ensuring the microclimate of the containers in the freshness zone. This function allows you to do without deep freezing of food and ensure long-term preservation of their beneficial properties, taste and aroma, which will undoubtedly come in handy when preparing dishes.

How to tell if your refrigerator has a freshness zone
When choosing a refrigerator, users tend to pay more attention to factors such as the size of the unit, the need to defrost the chambers and the capacity of the refrigeration unit. The presence of a freshness zone can fade into the background or even go unnoticed. You can verify the availability of this function by reading the user manual attached to the device, visiting the manufacturer’s website or setting the necessary filter in the refrigerator section

Manufacturers are actively promoting the presence of a freshness zone in their devices, and almost each of them has its own abbreviation for this function. As a rule, it is denoted by the word Fresh and its derivatives. Liebherr has BioFresh, Samsung has Optimal Fresh, Beko has Harvest Fresh, etc. In addition to this, specialized containers are marked with product icons that are recommended to be stored in them.The design of the freshness zone in the refrigerator may vary depending on the specific model, but the main principle of its operation remains unshakable – it is to maintain a given microclimate inside the designated containers.

Typically, the freshness zone is located in the main refrigerator compartment closer to the freezer compartment and includes one or more containers. These containers have a lower temperature than the rest of the refrigerator compartment and, as a rule, it is equal to zero degrees, while the rest of the shelves are from three to six degrees. In addition to this, a certain level of humidity is set in these containers.

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Meat and dairy products, as well as fish require low humidity during storage – about 50%, i.e. dry freshness zone. Fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries, on the contrary – increased humidity within 90%.

Maintaining the appropriate temperature and humidity is ensured by placing fans and temperature sensors directly next to the container or by circulating air flows throughout the entire refrigerating chamber. Especially technologically advanced models allow you to adjust the humidity level and temperature for each container separately, and also have drawers with a separate partition for storing several types of products.

Some manufacturers went even further, adding to the previously announced features the function of simulating solar lighting, thanks to special lamps. In budget models, as a rule, there is no separate regulation of temperature and humidity for containers, and the indicators may differ by one or two degrees.

On the left are products stored in the freshness zone, and on the right on a regular shelf, after a few days

Having figured out how the freshness zone works, let’s test it using the example of a typical refrigerator from the mass segment. For testing, vegetables and herbs were purchased from the same batch, after which some of them were placed in the freshness zone, and the other on a regular shelf. A week later, vegetables and herbs from the freshness zone have not lost their original appearance. The other part is not the same. The vegetables that were stored on a regular shelf showed rotting processes, and the greens began to fade rapidly.

What can be stored in the fresh zone
In the freshness zone, you can store many different products that require certain conditions of detention. This list includes meat products: a variety of chilled meats, minced meat, sausages, etc. Seafood: seafood, caviar, etc. And also many dairy products such as cheese. Vegetables, fruits, herbs and fresh berries are another large category of food that will benefit from being placed in a special compartment of the refrigerator. Each type of food must be placed in an individual compartment, i.e. do not put fruit in the fish compartment and vice versa, because they require different storage conditions, and of course follow the refrigerator manufacturer’s recommendations.

In addition to these basic rules, there are many requirements for storing different types of food next to each other. Many of these can be neglected if you’re going to be storing food together for a couple of days. Longer term product placement will require more attention. This is due to the odors emitted and the most unpleasant thing is the release of ethylene. Ethylene negatively affects the color and taste of some foods. It speeds up the ripening processes, which leads to a shorter shelf life and faster rotting of susceptible foods. The main sources of ethylene can be ripe fruits of apples, pears and tomatoes. In this regard, such fruits and vegetables, if possible, should be stored separately from others. For example, apples are in a separate bag, and bananas are wrapped in cling foil.