The full Save Food From Your Refrigerator kitchen.

Apples generally cause other fruits to spoil quickly ("one bad apple…") so it’s good to keep them separately. But in a special trick of nature, the chemical in apples that makes most food go bad keeps potatoes from sprouting. This keeps them together, but also keeps the potatoes in the dark where they like to be.

Vegetables grow in the ground standing up, so it stands to reason that they’d be happier waiting to be eaten while standing up, too. The sand also helps keep the right level of humidity to keep them fresh.

One of the big problems with the fridge is how dry it gets in there. Fruit likes moisture. This bowl with water on the bottom will help your fruit last longer (though, obviously, don’t put anything in there with that apple).

Eggs that aren’t fresh will float, so just drop an egg in the jar and see whether it’s ok to eat.

This works on the same principle as the bowl. Keeping the shelf full of water (filled via the funnel on the left) makes sure you keep attending to your fruits.

We’ve all seen rice in salt shakers. This makes that a little more elegant, by keeping the rice attached to the lid of the spice jars, and keeping the spices dry.

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Forget The Fridge: Using Chemistry And Nature To Store Food

The cold of your fridge is actually ruining a lot of your (expensive, local, bought at the farmer’s market) produce. An artist’s project finds ways to use the way fruits and vegetables spoil to keep them fresh, the old-fashioned way.

The refrigerator is a paragon of modern convenience. A magic box that keeps your food so cold it doesn’t spoil. It’s a miracle. But it’s the kind of miracle that can make us a little lazy. You get home from the store and just throw everything in the fridge. But, in fact, many foods aren’t so happy sitting in the ice box, and would be tastier and last longer if stored on the counter. More importantly, nature has given us some helpful tips on how to get the most quality from our foods, if only we would listen.

That’s the object of Save Food From the Refrigerator by the artist Jihyun Ryou. Instead of a deep chill, the project finds ways to store foods to make them keep the longest, often in symbiosis with other produce. Ryou has been working on the project for a while, but it’s recently on view again, with some new additions.

About the project, Ryou says: "Through the research into the current situation of food preservation, I’ve learned that we hand over the responsibility of taking care of food to the technology, the refrigerator. We don’t observe the food any more and we don’t understand how to treat it."

Click through the slideshow above to see some of the ingenious devices and combinations, like a way to keep apples and potatoes happy together or to easily determine whether or not your eggs are still fresh.

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  • Fp

    Can't see this working in the humid tropics, where a good portion of the population lives. May work for temperate regions, though.

  • Katrynova

    Not only do potatoes like the dark, if exposed to light the green that comes to skin is considered 'toxic'--not to kill you etc-- as part of the deadly nightshade family, a potato needs respect!  As an old tater picker I cringe when I see potatoes in plastic bags...most all are probably irradiated.

  • Katrynova

    I wonder if anyone remembers storing eggs in a crock of salt in a root cellar?

  • Katicakes

    Mould from water? If the water is contained in a receptacle, yet exposed to air,  I don't see how it could contribute to mould. My thought is that it would evaporate. Clue me in?

  • phillip marzella

    Great ideas. They may not all be without fault, but taking these steps will lead to breakthrough innovation...

  • Jlangdon

    All that water sitting around is bound to encourage mold, and those don't look particularly easy to clean.

  • maco

    Everything I'm reading says potatoes sprout faster near apples and apples rot faster near potatoes. What's with that first one?

  • Whitehead Ae

     I read years ago to keep my apples with my potatoes to prevent them from sprouting. Been doing it since I had my own home and it works like a charm. Potatoes last much, much longer with an uncut apple in the bag.

  • Navi Radjou

    hi Morgan: 
    Great post. Coincidentally, there is an entrepreneur in India who has invented a fridge that is entirely made of....clay, is 100% biodegradable and consumes NO electricity. It functions on the principle of "evaporation" (you pour water at top that circulates and keeps inside chambers cool). You can store milk in it for a few days and vegetables for several days. The kicker is that the vegetables retain their moisture and you can even drink the water used to keep the chambers cool. The amazing thing is that his entrepreneur didn't even finish high-school. This type of ingenuity -- which is called JUGAAD in Hindi -- is what we need in the West to reboot our ailing economies! You can learn more about such "Jugaad" entrepreneurs -- both in emerging markets as well as in the US - in my upcoming book JUGAAD INNOVATION (due April 2012).

    Navi Radjou
    Co-author, Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth

  • Robert

    An awesome invention. The West has plenty of innovation, though. Our economies were tanked by risky lending practices enabled by lax regulation. Innovation is a part of what is needed to pull us out of our recession, and keep us out of another one.

    This invention will never replace refrigeration in the first world though. I think it's benefit for westerners is to allow us to have smaller and more efficient refrigerators and freezers for the stuff that really needs it.

    Norman: I have a feeling it was more the armies of slaves used to transport massive quantities of ice and snow down from high altitudes that enabled the Roman aristocracy to enjoy a little gelato.

  • Norman

    Using Terracotta pots with water evaporating from them was how the Romans made ice-cream before the fridge was invented.