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A warming drawer is a small appliance designed to, well, keep food warm. With modern lifestyles and disjointed dining schedules, it can be difficult to feed everyone in the family a hot meal – at least without standing at the stove all night. Many families simply cannot sit down to dinner at the same time. It’s not like the old days when mom just called out the window for her kids to come in and eat. Now they’re more likely to microwave something when and if they have the time, between practices and rehearsals, study sessions and time with friends. A warming drawer provides the perfect solution to providing a fresh, hot meal for each member of the family.

Energy efficiency: Warming drawers vs. microwaves

It is most convenient to make one large meal all at one time for the whole family. But with today’s fractured mealtimes, much of that food gets put in the refrigerator, then heated up again later in the microwave which uses even more energy. With a warming drawer, you do not need to worry about cooling and reheating each person’s meal. Take whatever will be eaten later and put it in the warming drawer to keep it at the optimum temperature to stay hot and fresh. They use a very minimal amount of electricity to keep whole dinners warm. The heat elements do not stay on the whole time but instead come on only as needed. Foods need to be kept above one hundred and forty degrees to avoid having them spoil. Most warming drawers will plug into available outlets, making use simple.

Popular brands

KitchenAid is a well known brand with a good choice of drawers to match your kitchen. They do have drawers that look like cabinet doors. GE has drawers of various sizes and heat from eighty to two ten degrees. They also offer moisture controls and variable temperature settings. Dacor and Wolf warming drawers use fan technology to heat more efficiently and quickly. Dacor usually ranges from one hundred to two hundred degrees and has a variety of styles to fit in any kitchen. Dacor usually includes a built in timer. Wolf are generally in the standard stainless steel styles. Frigidaire has a professional line of drawers. They feature the bigger drawers, up to thirty inches. Including a indicator light and more controls, such as temperature settings. Most drawers can also be removed for easy cleaning.

Standard sizes for warming drawers

Warming drawers can be located below the oven, in the space that used to be taken by a broiler, or hanging under kitchen cabinets, like certain microwaves and coffeemakers. Warming drawers come in a few standard sizes with widths of 27″ to 30″, but 24″ and 36″ are most common sizes to fit under most stoves or kitchen cabinets. You will want to know which size is best for your family. A 36″ drawer can hold up to six 9″ plates side by side, while a 24″ drawer will only hold four 9″ plates. You want the smallest drawer or appliance that will get the job done when looking for kitchen appliances. No reason to waste energy on big models if you only have a couple plates to keep warm.

Styles and colors

Warming drawers come in many styles and colors to fit in to your kitchen. The controls are just inside the door, so a closed drawer looks much like any other drawer or cabinet door in the room. A stainless steel drawer under a steel range looks great and modern and is easy to clean. While you can install the warming drawer anywhere the most commonly chosen place to mount them is under the stove. It tends to look and feel more natural and takes up less space. This is also the most convenient location. It is more energy efficient to take dishes right from the stove or oven to the drawer beneath because they do not have as much time to cool off as moving them to a drawer across the kitchen.

Moisture and temperature controls

Look for a warming drawer with moisture controls built in. Foods kept in the moist setting tend to retain the just cooked taste and textures people prefer. The dry or crisp setting is best saved for baked goods or fried foods, think potatoes and fish sticks. After a time you will discover which setting work best for your family’s meals. Most foods need to be kept at one twenty degrees or above to be safe so keep in mind the temperature ranges of the various models of drawers you look at. Most warming drawers average from one hundred to two hundred and ten degrees and only have a few temperature points to choose from rather than choosing and degree in the range you want. Lower settings do use less energy but are generally only good for baked goods and helping you let the dough rise before baking.

Food safety in warming drawers

For maximum food safety and efficiency always preheat the warming drawer before placing food into it. The more a food cools while waiting for the drawer to warm up the more risk of the food cooling to a point that bacteria will grow. Most models can preheat in about twenty to forty minutes. So it is best to start them warming while you are still cooking but near the end. A few warming drawers may use a convection fan to preheat more quickly so you may want to look for those.

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