August 27, 2014

Freeze Your Buns with the New Frigidaire Gallery Freezer

It can be hard to write a product review of a freezer in the middle of winter. The last thing you want to think about is keeping things cold. Fortunately, our editorial offices are in Beverly Hills, California where we’ve been blessed with 70 degree weather since December. So it might be winter, but ice cream is still on the menu. We’ve been fortunate to have the new Frigidaire freezer model GLFH21F8H in house for testing for the past couple of months.

Frigidaire Gallery Freezer The freezer we tested is a clean white upright model with just under 21 cubic feet of interior space. It is wrapped in a simple white enameled, textured steel with a sleek, low profile handle. The freezer sports a digital display with a control panel on the door front. In these days of cheap slapdash construction and assembly, it’s nice to see a product with solid fit and finish. It has no rough edges, nice square joins at the corners, a door that hangs well and moves smoothly on its hinges. The workmanship hints at decent quality control in manufacturing. While you could certainly put it in your garage, it would look fine in your kitchen.

Inside the freezer, you have clear visibility and access to the stored contents. The interior is well lit, with clear glass shelves that neither frost nor fog up. The storage system includes two fixed height, full size glass shelves and one adjustable glass shelf. You also get three full size pull out baskets and low profile slideout “Pizza Shelf” hanging beneath the top glass shelf. The storage system gives you a lot of variety for flexible storage. The pizza shelf is a great little addition. We generally use the top couple of inches in any shelf space to slide in pizzas, pies etc. and let them perch precariously on the tops of whatever is sitting on the shelf. In the Frigidaire Gallery Freezer, they’ve grabbed that extra air space and hung a nice flat slideout bonus shelf.

One of our favorite touches with the Frigidaire Gallery Freezer is the collection of movable spacers. These small vertical plastic dividers snap onto the back of the glass shelves and provide support and defined space. They allow neat stacking, and in our test freezer serve to keep bags of frozen fruit and vegetables from toppling onto each other. The flexible space control is carried over into the wire bins as well. Each bin comes with a twist in adjustable internal divider. Anchored by the drawer’s wire framing it can stand up to the pressure of a full load in a packed drawer.

The freezer door has five adjustable height bins in two columns on the top half of the door. Each bin is about 10 inches wide by 5 inches deep and can easily hold two half gallons of Ice Cream (French Vanilla or Fudge Tracks are highly recommended by this editor.) The bottom of the door is a full width wire bin that rocks out. We’ve been using it to store 5 pound bags of flour we’ll be using in an upcoming review of mixers and bread machines. The middle of the door has a second full length bin, and one of the Gallery’s signature features: a distinct full width closed shelf set aside as a soft freeze zone – ideal for ice cream. Our only complaint is that its scaled for pints, and when we want ice cream we can polish it off in half gallon doses.

While we found the storage system of the Frigidaire to be well conceived and implemented, one issue to keep in mind is that space efficiency is lost when you replace shelves with drawers. Each drawer needs clearance on all sides to allow easy motion, and that margin space is effectively removed from use as storage. In the case of the bottom drawer, the seven inch clearance just isn’t enough to make a satisfactory bread drawer, and we had less effective capacity than in another 20 cubic foot freezer.

An interesting feature set of the Frigidaire Gallery Freezer (GLFH21F8H) as tested, is the digital display panel on the door front. The display gives a digital readout of the current temperature and allows you to exactly set how you want the freezer to cool. The feature we found most impressive though were the alarms and warnings available on the front panel. On one rainy day, when we lost power repeatedly at our offices, I wasn’t particularly surprised when I checked the freezer to see the lost power indicator verifying that the freezer had lost power at least once that day. I was pleased to see that the high temperature indicator made it clear that the freezer never warmed up to a range that might cause the food to spoil. If the freezer had warmed during a lengthy outage, I would have been warned by the display that I had an issue. Living in a family of forgetful, and slightly negligent kids and dads, the idea of an alarm that will alert you when the door is left open also appeals to me.

As part of our test, we also made it a point to call anonymously into Frigidaire’s consumer support hotline. We found their tech support team knowledgable, friendly, helpful and generous. They were quick to respond and quick to offer solutions to whatever we asked about. Overall, we’ve found the Frigidaire Gallery Freezer to be a solid, well conceived appliance and would be pleased to recommend it to our readers.

Here are the detailed product specifications of the Frigidaire Freezer Model GLFH21F8H:

GLFH21F8H Features

* Frost Free
* 20.5 Cu. Ft. Capacity
* Enhanced Directional Airflow Port
* Enhanced Interior Lighting
* Lock with Pop-Out Key
* Power On Light
* Precision Set Digital Control
* Smooth Arc Door with Color-Coordinated Steel Handle and Hidden Hinge
* 2 Adjustable Leg Levelers
* Sabbath Mode Setting to Disable interior lights and temperature cycling

Storage

* 1 Full-Width Adjustable Glass Shelf
* 1 Tilt-out Wire Door Bin
* 2 Adjustable Shelf Bookend Organizers
* 2 Full-Width Fixed Glass Shelves
* 5 Adjustable Door Bins
* Retractable Pizza Shelf
* Soft Freeze Zone with Integrated Full-width Gallon Door Bin
* 1 Lift-out Lower Level Basket
* 2 Mid-Level Baskets with Dividers

Dimensions

Width: 32″

Height: 70 5/8″

Depth: 28 5/8″

Depth (door open 90 degrees): 59 3/8″

Depth (including handle): 31 1/8″

Carton: 35″ x 74″ x 33 1/2″

Shelf Area: 21.76

Approx. Shipping Weight (Lbs.): 258

Model Numbers:

Black GLFH21F8HB
White GLFH21F8HW

Here is a link to the product manuals for the model we tested. Frigidaire Freezer Model GLFH21F8H

Buy it here:

Frigidaire GLFH21F8H

glfh21f8hw-parts-manual

KitchenAid Adds Induction Cooktops to Series

KitchenAid, is now offering induction cooktops in its Architect Series II Collection. If you are not familiar with induction cooking and the difference between cooking with induction technology rather than conventional heating methods, you can read more about them in href="http://www.appliance.net/2007/induction-cooking-is-hot-and-cool/"> Conduction Cooking is Hot- and Cool and How Food Cooks – Conduction, Convection and Radiation. Induction cooking allows a cook to go quickly from a simmer to a sear. Because of this special electromagnetic process, cookware used with the cooktop must be made of magnetic metals such as steel or iron.
The Architect Series II induction cooktops feature nine heat level settings and a performance boost function that increases the temperature level above the highest setting to quickly bring liquids to a boil. A hot surface indicator light provides a warning if the surface is too warm to touch, even after the burner has been turned off. Another helpful feature is size pan detection that automatically adjusts to fit the size of pots and pans in use, a keep warm function, touch activated controls and a frameless design with beveled glass edges.
The suggested retail prices range from $1,999 to $2499.

Appliance Design Magazine’s Excellence in Design Winners Announced

Appliance Design magazine has announced the winners of its 21st Annual Excellence in Design competition.

Entrants were evaluated by an independent panel of three experts in the field of design. The products were judged by four criteria: aesthetics, human factors, innovation, and technical merits.

Products were entered into one of several categories. The winning entries, listed by category below, received recognition at one of three levels: Gold, Silver, or Bronze.

The Gold winners are listed below.  Note that three of our favorites here at Appliance.net are listed as Gold winners:

Electronics: Tatung VOIP Phone

Major Appliances/HVAC: Bosch Nexxt Laundry – Our Pick

Major Appliances/HVAC: Bosch Integra Dishwashers – OurPick

Major Appliances/HVAC: Indesit Moon Washer

Major Appliances/HVAC: KitchenAid Architect Series II Built-in Double Oven

Medical/Test Equipment: Gendex expert DC Intraoral X-Ray System

Medical/Test Equipment: Heath Decto-Pack Infrared Gas Detector

Medical/Test Equipment: Reichert TONO-PEN AVIA Applanation Tonometer

Outdoor/Leisure Appliances: Life Fitness X7 Electronic Adjustable Stride Cross Trainer

Small Appliances: One Touch Automatic Jar Opener -Reviewed here

You can see all the winners listed here.

Immersion Blenders – Indispensible?

Back in July of 2006, I cast my vote for the immersion blender, with my article about my old Braun blender. Well, I’m not alone in my opinion. You can read Marlene Parrish’s thoughts in the Pittsburgh Post -Gazette. She’s even more enamoured of the tool than I am.

I chose model KHB300OB, in black. With one-touch ignition, multispeeds and powerful performance.

No, it’s not an ’08 BMW. It’s the latest Kitchen Aid appliance, a new immersion blender. Not for you? Fine. You probably don’t need or want one more thing that plugs into a socket.

But think a minute. Leaving out the coffee maker and dishwasher, what is your favorite kitchen appliance right now, and why?

It could be a food processor for all-purpose duties, a hand mixer for cakes and whipped cream, a blender for soups and smoothies, a coffee bean grinder for you know what and so forth. The appliance has earned favorite status because it has multiple uses, is convenient to use and easy to clean and store.

You might even call it indispensable.

The immersion blender is the latest appliance on the market to vie for that coveted crown. It does all the tricks my 25-year-old, wearing-out Waring blender does, but does them lots faster and way smarter. It also whips, aerates, emulsifies and purees. Results are immediate, and cleaning is a snap.

My immersion blender looks like a giant candlestick. The hand-held, ergonomically designed wand comes with multiple bells and whistles. It has a detachable blending attachment, a whisk, a chopper attachment, blending beakers and a chopping beaker.

There’s only one way to find out if it’s as good as it looks. I decided to put this baby to the tests.

In the kitchen

First project: creamy soup. Into my largest pot, I tossed a coarsely chopped potato, two stalks of celery, an apple, a banana, an onion and broth to cover, then simmered until the ingredients were soft. Seasonings and milk were added. Then came the moment of truth. I snapped the blending wand onto the base, plugged in the cord, submerged the business end and pressed the power button. Whoosh, whirr, slurp — done. I had a velvety puree, no lumps and no blade-bitten rubber spatula, either, as often happens in my blender.

I pressed the dual-ejector buttons, snapped off the attachment, swished it under hot soapy water and started on the mayonnaise.

Holding the wand at a slight angle (yes, guys, I read the owner’s manual), I moved it slightly up and down within the container as I added a cup of oil to the egg, vinegar and seasonings. Flash, shazam! Done. I tossed two scallions cut into thirds and a half-handful of parsley into it and pulsed again. Smooth, pale green mayo appeared before I could say “Martha Stewart.”

And so it went for an afternoon.

• To gauge the efficiency of the nine-speed dial, I made salsa in the chopping container using a pulse action. Had I kept the motor running on a higher speed, the salsa would have morphed into gazpacho. The fat switch is rubberized and the slightest pressure of your fingers turns it on and off. I like that.

• I harvested my entire basil crop to make superb pesto, using less than the usual amount of olive oil because I had complete control of the power.

• When I whirled the soup, the 5-foot power cord was an easy reach from the outlet to the stovetop and into the pot.

• Using the whisk attachment and the beaker bowl, I whipped cream. Next time I’ll try egg whites.

• Using the chopper attachment and the chopping bowl, I took some nuts down to flour, although I don’t know what I’ll do with it yet. Toss it into cookie dough, I suppose. A couple of leftover slices of breakfast toast became crumbs to brown in olive oil for a pasta topping at supper.

In the future, I can see the ease of pancake and waffle batter and smooth gravies. Lumpy sauces are past tense.

Decisions

A small kitchen has only so much storage. And most people only use what they can see or reach. Where will my new toy live and what, if anything, can it replace?

It won’t replace my chopping boards and knives. It’s a joy and comfort to slice and chop through a bag of produce. It won’t replace my beat-up, hand-held old Sunbeam mixer either; the thing is older than my children.

It will not and does not replace my Cuisinart food processor; they are complementary machines. My beloved workhorse processor is for mixing pastry and pizza doughs, shredding cheese and slicing vegetables. Not jobs for the immersion blender.

But the immersion blender will replace my mini-processor, which has been a loser from the get-go, with a whiny motor, too-little capacity and poor handling. My Waring blender also is going on the garage-sale shelf. It’s been a good friend and companion, but, like other friends, it’s old, overweight and slow, overheating and balking at simple jobs.

Be warned. There’s a safety factor to contend with. The chopping blade, while well-designed to be covered and protected, is super-sharp. Fingers can find that blade like a moth to a light. I’m putting all the attachments in a plastic box in a kitchen drawer.

Not that you’d know, but people can get careless under the influence of, um, cooking wine. So let’s borrow the slogan “don’t drink and drive” and change it to “don’t drink and immerse.” And not that you need to be told this either, but never let the kids play with the parts.

Which model to get? My Kitchen Aid retails for $99.99 and is loaded with attachments. But then I’m of the “you-get-what-you-pay-for” school of thought, and I like Kitchen Aid products. They are the All-Clad of plug-ins. If I were to re-think the purchase, though, I’d buy just the immersion wand. I could do without the whisk attachment and possibly the chopping blade, both of which duplicate jobs done by my hand-held mixer and food processor.

There is certainly a model to suit your specific needs and wallet. Braun, an excellent company, has two models at $29.99 and $69.99. Cuisinart has one for $49.99. Some have a cord, some are cordless. Others are blender wand only, while some have attachments. Just be sure the one you settle on is sturdy enough to handle the jobs you have in mind.

Refrigerator Drawers Handy and Expensive

Many of us could use the space an extra refrigerator in the kitchen would provide. I have a spare freezer in the garage, but when I’m cooking for holidays or other large gatherings, my large fridge bursts to overflowing. I have even stored food for neighbors who have the same dilemma.

If you don’t need a lot of storage space and can spare a cupboard or two, a refrigerator drawer might be right for you. A refrigerator drawer is just what it sounds like- a fridge that fits under the counter and pulls out like a drawer. They can be installed near a prep sink, making them just right for fresh produce.

At consumerreports.org , they offer a complete look at some brands, pointing out both pros and cons.

Refrigerator drawers provide not only additional storage space but also some conveniences. If you have young children, for example, you can stow snacks in an easy-to-access spot. Or, when you’re prepping for that big dinner party, you can keep your fresh ingredients at hand. And on the KitchenAid Superba ($2,500), you can place one drawer at a standard refrigerator temperature and the other at a “pantry” setting of up to 60° F. This would allow you, for example, to chill beer, white wine, and other beverages for your gathering in the bottom drawer and store root vegetables in the top. (All five tested models have two drawers.)

Other upsides are on the design front. Refrigerator drawers don’t eat up much floor space: On average, the units we tested are 35 inches high (they’ll fit below a standard-height counter) and 24 inches deep (matching the standard depth of base cabinets). Three models are 24 inches wide (same as a typical dishwasher), the other two, 27. And, as with many other fridges, they can fit in with the kitchen décor. All five models are available with a stainless-steel look, and the Sub-Zero 700BR ($3,200) can be fitted with a panel to match the finish of cabinets.

But you’ll pay dearly for those limited benefits. The tested models cost an average of $2,500 (prices range from $1,800 to $3,200) for what we measured as only about 4 cubic feet of usable fridge capacity (none of the models has a freezer). What’s more, while fridge drawers cost little to run (about $32 to $42 a year), they’re far less energy-efficient than any type of full-sized refrigerator in our Ratings, scoring poor in our calculations. Some other drawbacks: The Marvel 60RD ($2,500) has no bins, dividers, or shelves, and its controls are inside the top of the front frame, requiring you to open the top drawer much of the way to access them. And the U-Line Echelon ($2,500) is not equipped with an on/off switch. To unplug the unit, you need to pull the fridge out from the wall. So far, we lack repair data for refrigerator drawers.

A different solution to the problem, though possibly not as attractive, is to purchase a small freestanding refrigerator, or even a portable one that can be plugged in on an as-needed basis.
Or, there’s always the neighbors…

Deep Fryer Reviews

Every small appliance has its moment, and the deep fryer’s moment might just be now. Even Thanksgiving turkeys are getting tossed (quite carefully-hot oil, you know) into the deep fryer. The Los Angeles Times reviewed six new deep fryers, of which, the smaller models could fry about one cup of, say, mushrooms; the larger models could handle about as much as four cups of, for example, hand-cut fries at a time. They range in price from $20 to $130. The machines were assessed based on the quality of fried food each made (In this case, battered zucchini sticks using canola oil.) , the ease of use and cleanup, safety, whether special features were useful and effective and whether the fryer was a good value.

“All six machines offered up crispy zucchini in three minutes or less and were easy to assemble and operate. But some had safety and/or cleaning issues. And choosing the right machine for your kitchen depends on how much room you have and how many servings you want to prepare at one time.”

The fryers are listed in order of preference:

The favorite fryer was one of the mid-size, mid-price models, the Presto CoolDaddy cool-touch deep fryer. It has a sleek, modern look, and its oil tub is nonstick and removable, making cleanup a breeze. Zucchini fried in it for two minutes was tender and moist, tucked inside a light, crispy crust. The mid-size Presto CoolDaddy deep fryer, with its sleek black plastic “cool-touch” exterior and nonstick interior, has a 1,500-watt heating element housed under the removable oil tub. There’s a charcoal antiodor filter in the lid. A large window lets you keep an eye on the food. A clever mechanism allows an exterior handle to lower the basket into the oil when the fryer lid is closed, to prevent splattering. When the cooking is done, the handle raises the basket back up so the excess oil can drain off. It retails for about $50.

Though it’s not much bigger than a toddler’s shoe box, the Cuisinart Compact Deep Fryer has a 1,000-watt heating element, which is permanently affixed to the underside of the die-cast frying tub. The housing unit is brushed stainless steel, with black plastic cool-touch handles. The lid and cooking basket are dishwasher-safe.

The square oil tub has a spout to pour out the used oil. The tub is not removable; to clean, you fill the unit with water and baking soda and boil. Great results in a machine that takes up very little counter space. A nice design feature allows the oil to drain from the elevated basket before it is removed. Warning: Be careful to touch only the handles; other surfaces get hot enough to burn a finger. This also retails for about $50.

The T-Fal Family Deep Fryer has a 1,500-watt heating element housed under the removable, nonstick oil bowl. There’s a large odor-control filter and a viewing window.

This is a mid-size machine, but it can handle as much food as some larger models. Like the T-Fal family deep fryerPresto, it has the same clever basket-lowering and -raising mechanism. The entire exterior remains cool. Smooth operation and easy cleanup. The only drawback was that when the lid was popped open after cooking, the steam that had collected on the inside splattered into the oil below. About $50.

The large Waring Pro machine can fry more than 2 pounds of food in its 1-gallon removable stainless steel oil container. The 1,800-watt heating element is inside the cooking unit. Three mesh frying baskets are included, with collapsible handles for storage. There’s an on/off toggle switch and a built-in timer.

If your goal is to fry large quantities of food, then this machine gets the job done. The immersion-style heating element makes for quick oil temperature recovery time, a good feature if you’re cooking for a crowd. But you can’t wash the heating element. Larger is pricier at about $130.

The stainless steel Euro-Pro can fry about 1 1/2 pounds of food at a time. The 1,800-watt heating element is inside the oil container, with the food. The control panel is an easy-to-use digital display. After you set the desired temperature, the machine beeps to let you know when it’s ready to start frying.

For such a high-tech machine, there should be a safer way to lower the frying basket into the hot oil. You have to manually maneuver it, prompting this warning from the manufacturer: “Lowering the frying basket too quickly can result in the oil overflowing and splashing.” About $80.

Rival’s Cool Touch Deep Fryer looks like a mini rice cooker. Its 1,000-watt heating element is under the permanently affixed fry tub. There are dual filters to reduce cooking odors, and the lid can be removed for cleaning. This fryer does not come with a food basket. Instead, there’s a heat-resistant slotted spoon for putting in and taking out the food.
This is a basic, no-frills machine. The small price and size are nice, but cleaning the nonremovable bowl was challenging. Following the temperature guidelines in the owner’s guide produced overcooked food. You may have to experiment to find the right temperature and frying time. About $25.

All deep fryers come with many warnings about the dangers of cooking with hot oil. You have more control with a deep fryer than you would on the stove, so read the directions, be careful of hot fryers (and oil), then enjoy some crispy fried treats.

Cuisinart Waffle Maker Review

My family,  like many enjoys pancakes or even better- waffles- on Sunday mornings.  Crispy on the outside, puffy, tender golden brown waffles.  I’ve been making them for years using my almost eighteen year old Toastmaster waffle iron and we all love them.

Just recently, the old Toastmaster started having a bit of trouble with waffles sticking to the pan.   Good excuse to review a new waffle maker.  I dislike giving a completely negative review, so I will say that the Cuisinart waffle maker has a lovely stainless steel exterior and comes with complete instructions, including some recipes.

I followed all the instructions exactly, including seasoning the griddle plates before the first use.  All the waffles stuck to some degree.  As expected the first ones stuck the most.  I used the temperture setting three as recommended in the manual, and it did seem better than the others.

The manual says to use 1/2 cup of batter.  This is not enough batter for the pan and is certainly not enough to spread with a spatula as it instructs.  You can see in our photo the misshapen results of using a spatula.  We followed the instructions exactly.What does work is to use about 2/3 of a cup of batter and pour it carefully in a circle around the griddle, ending with a bit in the center.  This produced our only decent roundish waffles.  Of all our test waffles, only one came out round and the size of the pan. 

The maker itself feels flimsy, the hinges wobble and it does not sit securely on the counter.  I wish I could say this was a keeper, but it’s not even close.  My old Toastmaster waffle iron, with the occasionally sticking waffle is unquestionably better than this new one.

Product description:

Bakes one large traditional-style waffle
Five-setting browning control
Regulating thermostat
Red and green “ready to bake/ready to eat” indicator lights
Nonstick baking plates
Brushed stainless steel housing
Instruction/Recipe book
Limited 3-year warranty

Retails for around 29.99

Air Cleaners – What You Need to Know

Many people believe that an air cleaner will help their family be healthier.  Using an air cleaner or air purifier in your home supposedly helps reduce dust, pollen and other respiratory irritants.  There are three types of air cleaners,  High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, electrostatic precipitators, and ozone generators.

From the Arizona Daily Star:

1. High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters: Consumer Reports says air cleaners with these filters are among the best performers. But homeowners can more easily improve their indoor air with other methods, such as banning indoor smoking, keeping pets out of bedrooms, removing carpeting and other dust-mite havens and opening windows, the magazine says.
2. Electrostatic precipitators: They apply an electrical charge to particles and deposit them onto filters. They commonly emit small amounts of ozone as a byproduct. This month, Consumer Reports withdrew its endorsement of them after 15 years of recommending some models, saying, “We now believe that air purifiers that emit even small amounts of ozone are not your best choice.”
Ozone is a common air pollutant, an indicator of smog’s presence. The Environmental Protection Agency says that relatively low ozone levels can cause respiratory problems.
3. Ozone generators: Manufacturers say that ozone will purify the air, but Consumer Reports recommends against such machines, saying its tests have found that their ozone production generally exceeded federal Food and Drug Administration limits of 50 parts per billion set for medical devices. The California Air Resources Board just approved new rules, requiring such generators to limit ozone to 50 ppb by Dec. 31, 2008.

Newer houses with better insulation, double-paned windows and weatherstripped doors save energy, but they also seal pollutants into our homes. I try to limit my impact on the environment. Air cleaners are just another electronic device to run, with uncertain results. My choice is to vacuum and wash floors and bedding regularly and to open windows daily. Those are results you can see.