Appliance Considerations

The kitchen has long been considered the heart of the home. Then appliances are the engine that drives what the kitchen does: cooking, cleaning and preserving. This section will provide you with some basic considerations to help choose the best appliances for your kitchen. I have included some reading references in the References and Links section to provide much more detail than is practical here.

Questions: The first step in understanding what appliances you need is by understanding how you cook. Some questions to be answered are:

1. How many people cook at the same time?
2. How many people eat at home on a daily basis?
3. How often and for how many people do you entertain?
4. What is your favorite menu for entertaining at dinner?
5. How often do you grocery shop?
6. What appliances do you like to use the most, and the least?
7. What appliance that you do not have would you really like to have?

Answers to these questions will allow you to prioritize your appliance selection and budget. Put your money on your priorities. If you love steamed vegetables you may want to invest in a steam oven. If you shop for groceries every day or so you probably do not need a lot of freezer space in your refrigerator. I think you get the point that investment in appliances should be in line with how they are used.

Considerations:

There is no substitute for heat capacity when it comes to stove tops, cook tops or range tops. The higher the available heat the better cook you will become because your food will have less grease, be juicier and more flavorful.

Ovens come in a variety of sizes and configurations. There are five main types of ovens: the standard radiant oven, convection oven, microwave oven, convection/microwave oven and steam oven. There are also some combinations of these.

A ventilation system is a must, as houses have become more energy efficient, to protect the occupants from cooking order and pollutants. The market place for ventilation systems offers a wide variety of options. Ceiling and wall fans are basically useless. Re-circulating units do not work at all. Downdraft units, that try and pull naturally rising air down, are only marginally effective. Updraft units, your typical vent-hood above the cooking surface, are the only ones that really work.

Most people tend to undersize their vent hood. Typically, if they have a 30” cook top they get a 30” vent hood when they really need a 36” vent hood. This is because as gas rises from the cook top it spreads out.

Dishwashers today are more energy and water efficient than washing dishes by hand. They also clean better and can be used to sanitize dishes when family members are sick. Some of the higher end dishwashers can even sense how dirty the dishes are and adjust their cycles to ensure they get them clean.

The role of the sink relative to clean up has changed with the modern dishwasher. As a result the need for a two-bowl sink has diminished and is being replaced by a single bowl deep sink which that offers more functionality like being able to fill a large pot with water.

The concept of trash compactors came about with good intention. However, they are more trouble than they are worth with leaks, odor and animal attraction. Consider also the fact that compacted trash weighs about four times more that the same volume of un-compacted trash. A recycling center is a much better and less expensive option

Refrigeration preserves food. They are measured in terms of cubic feet of space. This measurement is really meaningless. What really is important is shelf space. Consider the fact that most people enter the refrigerator portion somewhere between 17 and 21 times more than the freezer portion. Based on this, top freezer models are not ergonomically friendly. Also be careful of 36 inch side by side models since you get way more freezer space than you need and useless refrigerator space that can’t hold large platters of food.