Archive for the ‘Appliance Design’ Category

5 ways to preserve food longer

May 12, 2011

With the opening of the Mill City Farmers Market last weekend and the start of many people’s summer CSA shares, the perennial topic of food storage becomes fresh again (see how I did that?).

Numerous ways to extend the life of fresh fruit, veggies, meat and dairy exist, but here are the 5 I could think of.

What do you do to try to make your food last longer?

1. Use your crisper

Those clear drawers in your fridge aren’t just for convenience. Many models allow you adjust the humidity of your crisper drawers to suit their contents. Consult your use & care manual for specifics on your model, but in general, set humidity to high for green, leafy vegetables and low for fruits and vegetables with skins.

2. Pick your spot

Brands might create the perfect space for gallon-jug storage on your refrigerator door, but consider how quickly you will use highly perishable foods before storing them here. Why? Consider the temperature fluctuations of this region of the refrigerator.

If you go through a gallon of milk every couple days, then maybe it doesn’t matter, but those of use who just use a sprinkle in our coffee should definitely select a cooler spot, like the back of the fridge, which is less affected when the door opens.

Accordingly, produce like broccoli, asparagus and apples benefit from colder temperatures located near the rear, while corn and berries — for example — benefit from the warmest spot in the refrigerator, so choose those for the front.

3. Use a paper towel to keep your greens…green

I love making big salads, but we all know that greens (especially leftovers) quickly become yellows and browns.

I arrange washed greens between paper towels to absorb excess moisture and seal them in punctured plastic bags. I’m not sure how “official” this is, but it’s allowed me to eat salad leftovers for two days before.

4. Don’t pass gas

Ethylene gas, that is. Foods like apples, peaches and pears produce ethylene, a gas that kick-starts ripening, which can cause premature aging in some fruits and damage in others. Avoid storing ethylene-producing foods near others sensitive to it (see list here) or keep them in a plastic bag to contain the gas.

5. Know what NOT to refrigerate

Sometimes the refrigerator can do more harm than good — as in the case of avocados, bananas, tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes, potatoes and squash — which should be stored at room temperature. Cold temperatures can dehydrate and damage these foods.

Plus, I think that refrigerating tomatoes sucks all the flavor out, doesn’t it?

How long does a stove last?

February 17, 2011

This post is the latest in the series “How long do appliances last?”

Yup, you're stuck with it for the next 16 or 17 years. So you better be sure it's the right fit for you and your family (see how I just made another baby-with-appliances pic happen?).

The average lifespan of an electric range and gas range is 16 years and 17 years, respectively, according to data published by Appliance Magazine in 2010. The life span reflects how long the first owner of a range owned it, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it broke down.

Considering your range, statistically, will be able to drive before you kick it out of the house — the longest lifespan of any appliance in this series — you should probably invest the most in it.

(Or at least that’s my rationalization. But you may borrow it.)

I love comparing appliances to cars (here, here and here just to name a few), and this reminds me of my Toyota Corolla, which I hate. I shared my feelings with my dad, who asked, “Then why did you buy it?”

Being practical, I of course bought it for the reliability.

Being wise, my dad replied, “That just means you’re going to hate it for longer.”

Dang him being right.

The good news is our sales associates do a pretty good job asking you the kind of questions that really get at what you like, don’t like and really need in a new appliance. I like to think we’re the eHarmony of appliance retailers.

Verdict: Buy a range you love, because you’re going to be loving it for a long time. Or else you’ll end up cooking on my Toyota Corolla…or something like that.

 

Why HE detergent is a must

February 14, 2011

I’m going to eschew the obligatory Valentine’s-themed blog post for a topic close to my heart: oversudsing.

More laundry detergent does NOT mean more clean, especially in a front-loading high-efficiency washing machine.

High-efficiency washers use far less water by design than traditional washing machines. Less water and more powerful wash action means less dilution of detergent, leading to overproduction of suds.

High-efficiency detergent (or HE detergent) provides the just right amount of suds to ensure the cleanest clothes possible. HE detergent is labeled “concentrated” or “2x” oftentimes, and sports this symbol on its bottle or box.

Make sure to follow the instructions on the label based on load size. And not that tablet laundry detergent isn’t recommended by manufacturers because of issues dissolving in the washer dispenser.

If you don’t use HE detergent,Whirlpool Corp. warns of the following problems:

  • Poor cleaning results.
  • Detergent residue left on clothing.
  • Washer odor due to sudsing residue.
  • Wet clothes at the end of the cycle due to excess suds hindering spinning and draining.
  • Leaking due to excess suds.
  • Extended cycle times or excessive water usage from extra rinsing to remove suds.
  • Error codes.

So remember, less is more.

 

Outdoor kitchen ideas: Viking gas wok/cooker

February 11, 2011

 

Viking outdoor wok / gas cooker

Wok this way.

In Minnesota, when the winter weather starts creeping above freezing, I start pulling my shorts out of storage.

And especially this past Super Bowl Sunday, I started thinking of how much I’d like having a kitchen outdoors.

Outdoor kitchen designs usually always include a gas grill. And sometimes, gas grills are built in to a grill island, which offers counterspace and — more interestingly to this blog — space for more outdoor kitchen appliances.

(I’m going to feature several outdoor kitchen ideas over the next week or so, so subscribe to my blog and you won’t miss any of the beautiful outdoor kitchens photos you know are coming. See instructions.)

Outdoor gas wok / gas cooker
from Viking Outdoor Kitchen

Unlike any outdoor gas burner, the Viking outdoor wok burner/gas cooker just has more power. The super-high 27,500 BTU burner handles huge stir-fry portions, and a center trivet converts for large stock pots – perfect for crab or shrimp boils.

All that power means you can saute super fast in the 20-inch wide steel wok, but the wok burner also has enough control to let you simmer at low temperatures.

You can choose to run the WFWT241T on either an LP tank or a natural gas line using an easy, push-button electric ignition. The large knob carries easy-to-read labels, but is childproof, so you don’t have to worry about curious little hands.

The removable, stainless steel pull-out drip tray and grease pan makes clean-up easy.

Plus, it just looks really good, doesn’t it?

DIY Network ‘Rehab Addict’ Nicole Curtis talks appliances on Twin Cities Live

February 4, 2011

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I got to tag along yesterday as “Twin Cities Live” toured the lastest renovation project (watch the video) of Nicole Curtis, star of DIY Network’s “Rehab Addict” (watch new episodes Thursday at 9 p.m. CST).

(Also, you can meet Nicole and hear her “5 Ways to Increase the Resale Value of your Home” at our Edina store Wednesday, Feb. 23. )

Nicole Curtis, left, poses in her beautifully remodeled kitchen with Twin Cities Live reporter Emily Engberg.

I couldn’t stop gushing over the way the house now looked, having toured it (kind of) almost two months ago for the appliance delivery.

White kitchen remodel
Built-in microwave cabinet
Gorgeous, huh? The so-called kitchen episode of “Rehab Addict” airs March 3, but we’ll be premiering it with Nicole at our upcoming, in-store event.

How long does a dishwasher last?

February 2, 2011

This post is the latest in the series “How long do appliances last?” They’re written in a style I learned in journalism, called “By The Numbers,” which was often just another way to say “I need to take up space and do something visual.” Voila.

10

The number of years in the average dishwasher’s lifespan, according to data published by Appliance Magazine in 2010. The life span reflects how long the first owner of a dishwasher owned it, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it broke down.

215

The number of cycles washed annually by the average dishwasher, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s a little over four cycles per week.

4

How many gallons of water an Energy Star dishwasher uses per cycle.That’s 860 gallons annually.

6

How many gallons of water a standard dishwasher uses per cycle. That’s 1,290 gallons annually.

20

Up to this many gallons of water are wasted by well-meaning homeowners still stuck on pre-rinsing their dishes. Repeat after me: scrape, don’t rinse!

$550

Average price of an Energy Star dishwasher, according to national retail data from 2009.

$538

Average price of a standard dishwasher in 2009.

1.5

Amount of years it takes for the lower operations costs (assuming gas water heating) of an Energy Star dishwasher to make up, or “pay back,” for the initial sticker price difference.

10%/$54

Overall savings of an Energy Star dishwasher over its expected lifetime (assuming electric water heating).

Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer refrigerator drawers

January 28, 2011

Don’t get me wrong. I love my full-size, bottom-freezer refrigerator. But occasionally, my freezer runs out of space while my fresh food compartment maintains plenty and my eyes wander to the grass on the other side…

Recently I’ve been thinking, why can’t my fridge be more adaptable?

I had a very educational conversation with the produce manager of a local grocery last weekend about fresh basil preservation. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to refrigerate it! (Also, those of us in cold temperatures should take special care when transporting fresh basil home, as our subzero air can turn the delicious leaves black.) It should be kept in a cool (50-some degrees) spot.

That’s why I love these multitemperature refrigerated drawers.

Now you see it.

Now you don't.

The Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer (RB36S25MKIW1) lets you choose freezer, chill, fridge, pantry or wine at the touch of a button so that everything from fresh food to frozen meat to fine wine can be stored at the correct temperature.
So, if you buy a lot of produce one week you have extra fridge space.

Refrigerator (37°F)

Or if a family member comes home with a record catch of fish and the freezer’s full, voila.

Freezer (0°F) (Deep Freezer -13 °F)

If you want to keep it a little colder than the stuff you keep in your fridge, you can do that too.

Chill (31°F)

And if you plunk down more than you’d like for fresh basil and don’t want to see any of it go to waste (or pesto), you’ll love the pantry function.

Pantry (53.5°F)

Having a party? Store your wine and then chill it to precise serving temperature.

Wine (53.5°F for long-term storage, 44.5°F for white wine serving and 59°F for red wine)

And at 36″ wide, the Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawers keep everything in easy, ergonomic reach while being deep enough to fit wine bottles and 2-liter bottles, as shown above.

The spill-proof storage bins can come out or be moved around to do just about anything you need it to.

I'm imagining a Thanksgiving turkey, thawing at the recommended 40 degrees, not crowding my refrigerator for four days.

If you want to see it, we display it at our St. Paul store, our Apple Valley store, our Woodbury store and our Edina store.

And, for being so curious, you will be rewarded with free assorted ice cream treats when you open the drawer.

How sweet is that?

How long does a refrigerator last?

January 26, 2011

This post is the latest in the series “How long do appliances last?” They’re written in a style I learned in journalism, called “By The Numbers,” which was often just another way to say “I need to take up space and do something visual.” Voila.

12

The number of years in the average refrigerator’s lifespan, according to data published by Appliance Magazine in 2010. The life span reflects how long the first owner of a refrigerator used it, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it broke down.

14.75

Amount cubic feet of fresh food storage space in the average refrigerator, based on all active models in 2009.

6.76

Cubit feet of average amount of freezer space, based on all active models in 2009. Guess that means the average refrigerator unit is just under 22 cu. ft.

$1,180

Average price of Energy Star refrigerators in 2009.

$1,150

Average price of a standard refrigerator in 2009 (not much difference, eh?).

2.8

Amount of years it takes for the lower operations costs of an Energy Star refrigerator to make up, or “pay back,” for the initial sticker price difference.

$71

Net savings (energy savings minus initial higher cost) of an Energy Star refrigerator over its expected lifetime of 12 years.

How long does a washer last?

January 24, 2011

This post is the latest in the series “How long do appliances last?” They’re written in a style I learned in journalism, called “By The Numbers,” which was often just another way to say “I need to take up space and do something visual.” Voila.

11

The number of years in an average washing machine’s life span, according to data published by Appliance Magazine in 2010. The life span reflects how long the first owner of a washer used it, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it broke down, but it still offers a fair estimate for today’s shoppers.

392

The number of loads washed annually by the average washer, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s about seven and a half loads per week.

$750

Average price of an Energy Star washer, according to national retail data from 2009.

$492

Average price of a standard washing maching in 2009.

4.7

Amount of years it takes for the lower operations costs of an Energy Star washer to make up, or “pay back,” for the initial sticker price difference.

30%

Overall savings of an Energy Star washer over its expected lifetime.

How long do appliances last?

January 21, 2011

Dramatization. Warners' Stellian responsibly recycles all replaced appliances.

Replacing a broken down appliance ranks among our least favorite situations as a retailer, because our customers might not be so excited to getting a new refrigerator as we would hope. Instead, these shoppers meet us in many points along the appliance mourning spectrum (denial, anger, bargaining, depression).

I recall countless conversations consoling those bereaved, especially, of more “recent” appliance purchases — which, though a bit longer than 10 years ago, struck owners as not lasting as long as they should. Or certainly, not as long as “the old one.”

“They just don’t make ‘em like they used to,” I offer, and most agree and move into the last stage of appliance grief: acceptance.

What we didn’t generally get into was how they make ‘em today. Specifically, how long should your appliances last?

Over the next few (indeterminate unit of time), I will get into that. And I will throw in some other fun number factoids (bonus!).


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