Thursday, October 9
I love me an empty refrigerator. This is a weird example of how my neurotic tendencies (a desire for cleanliness) overcome my survival instincts (having food to eat). It’s weird, but seriously, when the fridge is half-full (or would that be that half-empty?) it makes me happy! But, I’ll admit, my fridge is not always in such a clean, empty state. At any given moment we most certainly have food in there that needs to be tossed and I definitely don’t wipe down the shelves as often as I should. Let’s not even get started on the fingerprints on the outside of the fridge!
But here’s the thing – when I do properly maintain the fridge, keep the food fresh, and the drawers and shelves clean, I feel sooooo much better! And we have far less food waste. So, today, in order to inspire us all to maintain beautiful refrigerators and to eat all of our food, I think we need to share some fridge tips and tricks with each other!
As you know, about a year ago KitchenAid supplied us with a brand new, beautiful 20 Cu. Ft. French Door Counter Depth Architect Series II fridge. One year later and I am still loving this fridge. And, yes, I’m still happy that we have a counter-depth fridge, although I will admit that it’s been nice having our old fridge in the garage for overflow at the holidays and to house the occasional larger item like a birthday-cake-in-the-making. Anyway, the fridge is fabulous and, now that I have a fridge I actually care about, I’ve gotten into a better groove about maintaing the fridge and keeping our food fresh. Here are a few of the things I have learned!
- Replacing the Water Filter is Easy, So, You Know, Do It! I don’t know how many people I know who don’t use the water dispenser in their fridge because they stopped replacing the filter. Luckily our fridge tells us when to order a water filter. We listened to our fridge and went online to order the filter, which arrived right around the time that the fridge said it was time to replace the filter. It was kind of magical. Anyway, it was really easy to replace and I even did it ALL BY MYSELF, no help from Nate. (This is saying something, I normally don’t put anything together in our house, not even LEGOs.)
- Don’t Use Cleaners on Stainless Steel – A Damp Cloth is All You Need! Okay, I’m sure a lot of you already know this, but when my fridge was brand new I used a mild general-purpose spray cleaner and the entire front of the fridge ended up with tiny rust marks ALL OVER IT, which I then had to carefully scrub off with baking soda and a soft towel. I opened the manual afterward and, sure enough, it says to only use cleaners made for stainless steel and nothing else. DUH. Now I just use a damp towel to wipe down the stainless steel, followed by a dry towel. I don’t even bother with the stainless steel cleaner, water does the trick!
- Use the Humidity Controls on the Crisper Drawers. For some reason I could never wrap my brain around the humidity controls on produce drawers, but I finally have it figured out. The higher the humidity control (so on my fridge #5), the more sensitive the veggies and fruit should be in that drawer. So, you know, high maintenance produce gets a high setting. Like lettuce. The lower the humidity control (on my fridge #1), the heartier, more low-key the produce, like fruits and veggies with peels. I guess if you really don’t want to think about it just throw the setting in the middle and call it a day, but if you decide to utilize the settings, your produce will last longer!
- Clean Out the Fridge Once a Week (for example, when you plan your weekly menu!). Fridges packed with food seriously stress me out. I know, I’m weird. But they do. I try really hard to stay on top of it and keep food cleaned out that has gone bad. When I can actually see what’s in the fridge, we are much more likely to eat the food inside and end up with far less food going bad.
- Wipe Out the Fridge Regularly, and Don’t Be Afraid to Take the Shelves and Drawers Out. Sometimes I wipe the shelves and drawers out frequently. Sometimes I neglect them and then we discover a giant blob of sticky goo underneath the produce drawers. I find that if I just wipe out the shelves each week when I clean out the old food, then it’s pretty easy. And the mystery goo blobs don’t appear nearly as often.
- Get a Fridge with a Temperature Management System. When we got our fridge I’ll admit I didn’t think much about what KitchenAid’s “ExtendFresh Temperature Management System” meant. Now that I have had the fridge for a year I really appreciate it! The system controls the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer compartments separately, it responds to temperature changes as small as 1º and adjusts accordingly, and the fan transfers cold air immediately from the freezer to the fridge for a faster response to temperature changes without needing to turn on the compressor. The system also maintains consistent temperatures, regardless of external temperatures or even the temperature in other compartments inside the fridge. Basically, it’s a super fancy system and it works GREAT. There’s even an alarm that alerts you if the temperature goes too high, which happened to me just the other night in fact! The door was barely open when we went to bed, but it didn’t trigger the door alarm for some reason. Once the temperature raised enough, the fridge started beeping and woke me up, but not before I dreamed about the fridge and it’s alarm first. 😉
So, what gems of refrigerator wisdom do you have for us? Spill your fridge maintenance guts! (Feel free to confess your less-than-perfect maintenance skills, too!)
This post was sponsored by KitchenAid. All opinions are 100% my own.
Thursday, December 5
When we bought our house there was no refrigerator. We bought our neighbor’s garage fridge to tide us over until we found something we really wanted and loved. Thankfully I work with KitchenAid and they graciously offered to supply our home with a brand new fridge. (Another 10 points for the blog!) I wanted to share the fridge we chose with you, explain why we chose what we chose and share the best features, in case anyone is in the market for a fridge or will be in the future.
Things to Think About as You Start Shopping for a Refrigerator:
Space and Size:
One of the biggest things to consider when purchasing a fridge is your space. My mother-in-law, for example, has a small space boxed in by cabinetry. When their fridge died, they were very limited in what models they could choose from based on dimensions. Nate and I found ourselves in a similar situation. The kitchen in our home was redone about 10 years ago, so it’s in wonderful shape. But the placement of the cabinets is all original, dating back to 1969. As a result, we too were limited by particular dimensions as the fridge space is enclosed by cabinets. (Granted, our space is much bigger than my in-laws…I’m not complaining!)
Another factor we had to consider was whether or not to get a standard-depth or counter-depth fridge. Based on the height and width of our fridge space, we were pretty limited in our choices, but we could choose between standard and counter depth. My mom has a counter-depth fridge and she hates it. And when I asked the appliance salesperson at Home Depot about them, they didn’t even have any models on display and she said it’s her most returned appliance. Needless to say I was a bit nervous about getting a counter-depth fridge! But with the way our kitchen is set up, a standard-depth fridge (which is deeper) stuck out too far into our kitchen and took up precious space, right where you walk through from the garage to the dining room. We took a deep breath and decided to dive in with the counter-depth.
Lucky for us we knew that the KitchenAid fridges we had to choose from were all high-quality appliances. As you narrow down your list of contenders, be sure to take quality into account and balance that with the budget. Once you buy a fridge you’re going to have it for a long time!
What We Love About Our New Fridge:
We ended up getting the KitchenAid 20 Cu. Ft. Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerator, Architect Series II. It fits PERFECTLY in our space and we are loving it. But simply telling you we love it is not helpful, let’s get into specifics! Now that we’ve had the fridge for a few months, I definitely know what features I love and would tell people to look out for.
- I love how the counter-depth fridge takes up less space in the kitchen, and it looks really nice having it flush with the cabinets. In terms of capacity, it’s worked great for us so far. Despite my mom feeling like there just isn’t enough room in her counter-depth, I haven’t felt that way. The reason we chose french doors over the side-by-side model was because there was more fridge capacity with the french door model (plus I like having a wider space rather than a narrow area to work with). On the other hand, the side-by-side has significantly more freezer capacity, but since I have a chest freezer (more on that in a minute), I wasn’t as worried about freezer capacity. Also, when I compared the capacity of the french door counter-depth to our old fridge that was standard depth and HUGE, it actually had almost the same exact capacity. Whether you choose french-door or side-by-side will really depend on your own needs. Just be sure to check out the specifications to compare the cubic feet.
- The cheese drawer is AWESOME (it’s the wide drawer you see underneath the produce drawers in this picture). It holds a ton of stuff and is my favorite part of the fridge. I also love that I can fit 2 gallons of milk on the door and the butter compartment is nice and big. All of these things combine to make for easy organization and lots of storage capacity.
- I thought I would hate the freezer drawer, but I actually love it. And my favorite part about the drawers in the freezer in this particular model is that they are solid instead of basket-style, so things don’t fall through to the level below and they are easier to clean.
For the record, this is NOT my freezer drawer, lest you think I keep a tidy freezer.
- Our fridge comes with a water and ice dispenser. It takes up a lot of real estate inside the fridge, but it’s worth it. The ice and the water both taste great (I usually HATE how ice tastes coming from fridge dispensers) and the filter is easily accessible.
- Thank goodness for the alarm that tells me when the fridge is left open! There is also a vacation mode, which we used when we were gone for a few weeks this summer.
- KitchenAid uses the ExtendFresh™ Temperature Management System, which uses sensors in the refrigerator and freezer to help ensure all the ingredients remain at the appropriate temperature. Our food stays super fresh and nothing is frozen or melted when they’re not supposed to be (can you tell I had some really great fridges in the past?).
- Is the fridge really, truly big enough for our family of five? Yes, I can say that it is. Keep in mind that we DO have a chest freezer in our garage, which we’ve had for years. I freeze a lot of stuff and would need the extra freezer no matter how giant my fridge was. We did keep the old fridge and put it in the garage to see if we would need the extra fridge space. I will admit that it came in handy during Thanksgiving week, mostly for holding our giant turkey until it was time to cook and for keeping lots of soda cold for our guests. But I could have made it work with just my inside fridge if I’d had to, and the rest of the year the outside fridge is pretty much empty.
- Even though I chose the french door model for strictly utilitarian reasons, I love how it looks! So pretty!
Hopefully this is all helpful information! I know whenever I go to make a big purchase, I get overwhelmed with information, so I tried to highlight the features and benefits that have been most valuable for us to make it a little easier for you when looking around.
May all your refrigeration dreams come true! (Sorry for the cheesy line – a visit to Disneyland will do that to you.)
UPDATE 3/16/16: We still love this fridge. I am really glad we got counter depth and the water/ice dispenser, but I think the reason I can have those things is because I have a second fridge in the garage. If it wasn’t for that second fridge, I would probably feel frustrated by the space in the fridge, so consider that carefully when choosing your own fridge. Also we are getting ice buildup in the bottom of the freezer under the doors, which will sometimes melt onto the floor. It’s not a big deal and it’s really easy to remove the ice if we know it’s there, but just thought I should let you know about that quirk. Other than that, it’s been a great appliance!
A big thank you to KitchenAid for providing us with our refrigerator. All opinions are 100% my own.