If there's one thing most of us have realized while spending more time at home - especially in the laundry room and kitchen - during the Pandemic, it's that appliances are here to make our lives easier. But for some of us there is still so much to learn! Here are some examples of things we can do with our appliances that you may not have thought of yet.
Oven-Baked Bread is Just as Good as Machine-Baked Bread
Although baking results can differ from one bread maker to another, the texture of bread baked in a machine is quite different from that of oven-baked bread, even when the same recipe is used. Rather than light and airy, bread machine bread generally has a heavier and more compressed dense texture. Just make sure you use the right pan! Check out this recipe for great tasting bread!
Your Oven Is the Original Slow Cooker
Slow cookers were developed for a mostly hands-off cooking experience, and you can use your oven in the same way. In fact, people have long been using ovens (electric or wood-burning), hearths and even pits in the ground to prepare food over many hours. Converting traditional stovetop recipes into oven recipes is quite easy. Consider slow-roasting tomatoes for sauce, vegetables for soup or caramelizing onions in the oven. Check out this tasty low, slow roasted beef recipe.
The Position of the Oven Racks Matter
We already mentioned that heat rises, but the bottom of the oven is where the heat comes out. So although the top is the hottest, the bottom also packs a blast of heat. A rule of thumb is the closer the rack is to the bottom of the oven, the crispier the bottom of the food will be. Generally, the middle rack position is the sweet spot.
The Broiler Does More Than Melt Cheese
The broiler is an underrated oven feature. It's really great at melting cheese, but it can do plenty more. Your oven broiler is an excellent way of cooking thin cuts of meat, quickly roasting vegetables, and reheating take-out food like pizza. Certain veggies, fish, meat and poultry are great for cooking on the broiler. Check this out for some great tips for broiling.
A Convection Oven Cooks Food Hotter and Faster
This might explain a few things! Conventional ovens typically are 25 to 30 degrees cooler than a convection oven set to the same temperature. Since most recipes are intended for conventional ovens, you'll need to adjust the temperature to around 25 degrees F (about 15 degrees C) lower to accommodate the difference - otherwise you might end up with a burned mess.
Also, even with the temperature adjustment, you'll find that convection ovens cook 25 percent faster than conventional ovens, especially if the food is a large item, like a turkey. You will need to reduce the cooking time, or at least keep an eye on your food.
The Fuller It is, the Better
What you didn't know is that the refrigerator is more efficient when it's full than when it's empty.
Some people may say that when it's empty, it consumes less energy as there aren't a lot of things to keep cold. However, when it's 80 percent full, the foodstuff stores the cold and it's easier for the low temperatures to be maintained even when it's opened regularly.
The Doors are the Warmest Area of the Fridge
Since the doors are most susceptible to temperature fluctuations thanks to the constant opening and closing, you'll find that that's the warmest spot. Instead of storing highly perishable foods like eggs on the doors, stick to keeping condiments, cooking oils, sauces, fruit preserves, and nut butters that don't require super-cold temps on the door.
The Bottom of the Fridge is the Coldest
If your fridge doesn't come with an ice maker, then the back of the bottom shelf will be the coolest spot. Why? The back of the fridge is farthest away from the warmer air that enters each time you open the fridge doors. And since cold air sinks, the bottom compartments will always be chillier.
Not All Food Belongs in the Fridge
Cold storage is a necessity for many foods, but the chilly air of the fridge can have a negative effect on some favorites. Keep these foods at their best by keeping them out of the fridge: Melon, tomatoes, unripe avocados, apples, nuts, bread (although refrigerated is good for coeliacs), stone fruits, citrus fruits.
Dust Bunnies can Shorten the Lifespan of a Fridge
You know those thick dust bunnies hiding under the floor of your fridge? They may be doing your appliance a disservice. Making sure you remove the grill and clean underneath regularly can help your fridge maintain cool temperatures without using too much electricity. Since the condenser coils (which keep the refrigerant cold) are usually hidden on the bottom, keeping them free of debris helps them release heat and helps the compressor maintain efficiency.
Some Washers Have Soil Level Settings
If you select low soil, the agitation time will be shorter but increases as the settings are changed. Many washing machines have a soil level feature that allows users to indicate the amount of soil or dirt on clothes to be washed and adjust the cycle accordingly. The soil levels are typically "Light," "Normal" and/or "Heavy" and increase the cycle time and agitation depending upon the selected soil level, eliminating the need to presoak items prior to washing.
Your Washer Needs a Wash Too
Run an empty load of hot water with 2 cups of white vinegar. In the middle of the wash cycle, add ½ cup of detergent. Let the full cycle complete. Don't forget to wipe down the drum door and gasket too. Following this cleaning routine every month will promote a sparklingly clean and odor-free washer - as well as effectively cleaned laundry.
Full Loads are Better Than Half Ones
If you do full loads, you'll spend less time doing laundry this way, and save water and energy, too. Your washer manual will guide you on load size. This seems like common sense at first glance. If you run your dishwasher, your washing machine, or your dryer with only half a load of clothes or dishes, you're losing out in terms of efficiency.
Even if you run the machine with small load settings, the machine is still using most of the water and most of the energy of a full load.
You Can Wash Your Dry-Clean Only Clothes in the Washer
Believe it or not, most garments with a dry-clean-only tag can actually be washed at home; you just need the right technique. dry-clean labels are often just slapped onto garments as a precaution. Indeed, with a little time and effort, you can wash most of your "dry clean" or "dry clean only" clothing at home.
Cotton, linens, and durable polyesters can be washed in the washing machine, so long as they are placed in a laundry mesh bag and set at the most gentle cycle using a mild detergent and cold water. Hang dry immediately and definitely do not place in the dryer.
Wool, silk, and cotton material can be hand-washed using a mild detergent like this Woolite Delicates detergent. Be sure to dry clothing afterward by rolling garment between two layers of clean towels, then laying flat on a third clean towel afterward.
Using a Towel in the Dryer Speeds up Drying Time
When you need to dry clothes fast - like a few pairs of moist jeans - add a large dry towel into the dryer with them. Adding this will act as a moisture separator - taking moisture from the damp clothing. Thus reducing the moisture level inside of your dryer and allowing each item to dry much faster.
COVID-19 has changed a lot of things in our lives. Spending more time at home has allowed us to learn more about our own appliances. Some areas have fared better than others. Here in Coquitlam, Burnaby and throughout BC our community has worked hard to flatten the curve and we are now starting to recover. At ElectraFix we are proud of our communty and hope that some of these tips will help you get the best out of your appliances.