Preserving your Kitchen During Canning Seasonby Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2017-09-01 16:32:47
As summer draws to an end in Ohio, canning season is in full swing, giving us a way to enjoy the fresh taste of homegrown produce year round. September is the perfect time to preserve Ohio-grown sweet corn, peaches, pears, and applesauce. Late-harvest tomatoes are also a popular September canning item, yielding savory pasta sauces as well as tomatoes and tomato juice for soups and stews.
While home canning is a rewarding process, it can be taxing on your kitchen if precautions aren’t taken. Here are some tips to help you preserve your kitchen.
Make sure your stovetop is safe to use for canning
Glass or ceramic stovetops may not be suitable to use with canners, especially pressure canners, so it is always a good idea to check your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer before you start canning. Coil burners are generally safe to use for any type of canning, but it is still a good idea to check the owner’s manual for specifics about your model.
Some glass-top units are built with a sensor that automatically shuts the burners off if they get too hot — a feature that prevents potential cracking or damage. Glass-top burners may also fluctuate temperature continuously in order to maintain the desired heat without overheating. When using pressure canners, either of these scenarios can present an inconsistent pressure problem, resulting in undercooked and potentially unsafe food.
If you learn that your glass-top stove is safe to use for canning, keep in mind that many glass-top stoves have a weight limit, so excessive weight in the canner could cause damage to your stove top. Also, canners that are full and heavy can easily scratch a glass surface, so avoid sliding or dragging canners across the surface.
Consider the effects of canning on different countertops
Heat damage While surfaces such as granite, marble, quartz, and stainless steel are more heat resistant than laminate, they are not completely heat proof. Care should be taken with all countertops during and after canning to protect against heat damage.
If you plan to use your countertops to store canned jars as they cool, use racks, towels, hot pads, or trivets to protect the surface. Even heat-resistant countertops can crack under extreme thermal pressure, and laminate surfaces can melt, warp, or become discolored. With any surface, it is best not to place hot pots and pans directly on countertops without protection. Not only can pots and pans cause heat damage, but the bottoms can scratch many surfaces.
Etching and stains In canning, vinegar is a must for pickling, and lemon juice is often added to jams, fruit, and even tomatoes, depending on the recipe. On any surface, care should be taken to clean up these acidic liquids right away. Acids can etch and stain surfaces such as marble, and can soak into and stain granite or quartz if left on the surface too long. Laminate countertops stand up well to acidic liquids, but juices from tomatoes or grapes can stain a lighter surface.
Scratching One of the most laborious tasks in the canning process is the prep work, which often involves chopping or cutting fruits and vegetables before canning. While surfaces such as quartz and granite are scratch resistant, cutting directly on those surfaces can dull knifes. Marble, laminate, and solid surface are prone to scratching.
No matter the surface, it is always best to use a cutting board to protect countertops from scratches and even stains from certain fruits or vegetables.
Regulate humidity to prevent damage
The canning process can leave any kitchen hot, humid, and generally uncomfortable to work in. Extreme humidity can cause damage to wood surfaces such as cabinets, especially if they are close to the stovetop where you are canning. Cabinets that have a laminated outer surface—or are painted—can bubble or peel when exposed to steam or moisture for long periods of time. While you may not see noticeable damage to surfaces right away, if you can multiple times a year, year after year, eventually you may see the effects.
Control the humidity in your kitchen by running your range vent throughout the process. If the temperature and humidity outside is lower than inside (one of the many benefits of fall), consider opening your windows. Otherwise, running your air conditioner will help regulate the humidity and keep you comfortable throughout the process.
Canning is hard work, but the rewards far outweigh the investment of time upfront. If you are an avid canner who is considering a kitchen remodel, Lutes Custom Cabinetry and Furniture can help you choose the best options for your kitchen!
Stay Organized Throughout the School Year by Creating Zones in your Homeby Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2017-08-03 11:40:18
August is back-to-school time, and for many families, that means life is about to become chaotic again. Mornings will be bustling, and after-school activities can makes afternoons and evenings just as hectic. Taking some steps in your home now to get organized can help things run more efficiently when school begins.
Create a drop zone in your home for items such as backpacks and shoes
No parent wants to have to run to school to deliver a forgotten backpack, or be frantically searching for shinguards just minutes before soccer practice is supposed to start! Creating a place for family members to drop these items off when they get home makes it easier for kids (and parents) to remember them the next time they head out the door.
Entry ways, mud rooms, laundry rooms, and even attached garages are great areas for this zone to be located, providing a central home for items such as backpacks, coats, purses, shoes, sports gear, and rain or snow accessories. Clutter can be kept under control by using built-in storage cubbies, coat hooks, storage benches, and shoe organizers so that every item has a place. Families with multiple kids can even designate a special zone for each child using fun labels.
Organize lunch items so they are easy to grab and go
Designate space in a lower cabinet, drawer, or pantry shelf for school lunch items. Custom, pullout sections inside cabinets and pantries work great for this purpose. Storage containers, water bottles, lunch boxes, and non-perishable lunch items can be stored in this space for quick and easy access. In the refrigerator, keep lunch items such as deli meat, cheese, yogurt, fruit and veggies, and cold drinks together. Divide food into serving-size portions ahead of time using resealable plastic bags or storage containers.
Stay on top of paperwork by keeping it in a central location
School handbooks, sign up sheets, classroom schedules…the list goes on and on! In the first fews weeks of school, kids tend to bring home a steady stream of paperwork that can quickly consume your kitchen counter or dining room table.
To get a grip on the paperwork, choose a central location in your home (preferably not your kitchen counter!) where kids can unload their school papers each day. Having all the paperwork in one place makes it easier for you to sort through.
Prevent stacks of paperwork from accumulating by immediately tossing papers you don’t need. Whether it’s for a sport your child just isn’t interested in, or a chaperone signup slip for a field trip you know you won’t be able to attend, don’t let these papers create unnecessary clutter.
Then, separate paperwork into manageable categories using labeled folders, trays, or plastic bins made for hanging file folders. Categories might include:
- Urgent. Use for items that need to be reviewed and returned to school ASAP. This would include permission slips, medical forms, school picture forms, sports signups, or volunteer forms.
- Review. Placing items such as school handbooks, classroom rules, or school-year calendars in this folder lets you sort through the paperwork now and review these items later. Just make sure to check for acknowledgment slips that might need returned to school by a specific date.
- Out. Use for items that have been reviewed and are ready to go back to school.
- Reference. Use this folder for things you may need to refer to throughout the school year.
Create a family message station
Creating a family message station in a high-traffic area of your home, such as your kitchen, can help ensure that everyone in the family sees the messages and is on the same page. Hang a dry erase board for writing notes or lists, or use a bulletin board to pin important information such as invitations. Keep track of school activities, sports schedules, and appointments with a dry erase board calendar.
If you’re thinking it might be time to add some custom-built solutions in your home to help your family stay organized, just give us a call. We’d love to help!
Why choose custom cabinets over manufactured (box) cabinetsby Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2017-07-07 09:19:33
Whether you’re building a new home or considering new cabinets as part of a home remodel project, one of the first decisions you’ll face when it comes to your cabinets is whether to choose custom cabinets or pre-manufactured (box) cabinets.
There are many advantages to choosing custom cabinets to increase your home’s value and efficiency. Here are just a few ways custom cabinets really outshine box cabinets:
Custom cabinets can be built to any size
Each home is unique, and one of the greatest benefits of choosing custom cabinets is the flexibility to design something that will work within your specific space.
Box cabinets are produced in a factory and come in standard sizes in set increments (typically 3”). More often than not, the space you need to fill will not be within those exact increments. The solution is to order cabinets that are smaller than the total area, using fillers to make up the difference. While fillers can be made to look like they are part of the overall cabinet design, they will not be utilizing the space to its fullest capacity.
Custom cabinets can be built to any size, maximizing storage potential. Cabinet makers can help you figure out how to take advantage of spaces around appliances, windows, plumbing fixtures, and other existing elements. Even in odd-shaped areas where it may be impossible to find a box cabinet that would work, custom cabinets can be built to fit exactly.
Custom cabinets can incorporate built-ins for better functionality
Just as custom cabinets can be designed to maximize storage, they can incorporate functional, built-in features that help keep you organized and decrease clutter. Box cabinets without these built-ins may leave you constantly rummaging through drawers and cabinets to find what you need.
Custom cabinet makers can help create built-in solutions for your specific needs, or suggest options such as:
- Pull-out shelves
- Vertical dividers for baking sheets and pans
- Under-sink storage solutions
- Custom drawer organizers for silverware and utensils
- Plate racks and drawers
- Trash can pullouts
- Small appliance “garages” or pullouts
- Spice cabinets
You can create a one-of-a-kind look, or match an existing style
With so many choices between door styles, profiles, hardware, finishes, and wood species—and the ability to mix and match them—custom cabinetry provides endless possibilities for creating a unique look.
Custom cabinetry is also a good option if you are looking to match the style or finish of existing cabinets or woodwork, especially if you want to enhance the original, timeless charm of an older home. With box cabinets, many styles eventually become discontinued, making it difficult to find a match for older cabinets.
Custom cabinets are hand-built in a cabinet shop
Working with a custom cabinet maker means that your cabinets will be carefully crafted by hand in a cabinet shop—not mass produced in a factory and then stored in a warehouse like box cabinets. In a cabinet shop, custom cabinets are built with attention to detail, and your cabinets will be manufactured as a group, ensuring the finishes match meticulously. Once completed, they are ready to be installed in your home!
Wondering if our experts can design the perfect custom cabinetry for your space? Just give us a call!
Protect your Cabinets from Summer Humidityby Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2017-06-02 15:44:32
Aside from your basement, the most humid areas of your home are kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms—the hub of all cooking, cleaning, and—you guessed it—moisture! Since your cabinets happen to be conveniently located in these busy areas, it is important to understand how they can be affected by humidity, especially during warm summer months.
While a couple days of high humidity probably won’t permanently alter your cabinets, you may start to notice subtle changes, such as doors and drawers that stick when opened.
Over time, the effects of high humidity can cause wood to swell, creating noticeable and sometimes permanent problems such as:
- Warping, buckling, or bowing
- Changes to stiles and rails on cabinet doors
- Exposed stain lines or unfinished areas due to movement of pieces
While all wood naturally expands and contracts with temperature and humidity changes, some species of wood “move” than others. Finishes can help slow expansion and contraction on wood, but they will not stop it.
Cabinets should be designed and constructed to be able to reasonably tolerate this natural movement without compromising appearance or functionality. It is important for cabinetmakers to ensure that purchased wood has been properly dried and stored so that the finished product doesn’t contain too high a moisture content from the start. This reduces the chance for extreme movement down the road.
To protect your cabinets from humidity, take the following steps:
- Monitor the humidity level in your home. If you don’t have a hygrometer built in to your thermostat, purchase an inexpensive digital hygrometer. In fact, it is a good idea to have more than one, so you can place them in high humidity areas and compare the humidity levels in different areas of your home. Your hygrometer should alert you when the humidity is too high. During the summer, levels should be around 45%-55% relative humidity.
- Avoid opening your windows when it is humid outside. Hot, humid days are obvious, but sometimes cool days can be surprisingly humid, especially in the morning or evening.
- Maintain a consistent temperature inside your home. Along with keeping your house cool, a properly sized HVAC unit can work wonders at reducing indoor humidity during the summer months.
- Use vents or exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom.
- Consider dehumidifiers for humid areas, especially if vents or exhaust fans aren’t an option, or if you do not have an HVAC system.
- Promptly address plumbing leaks or moisture problems that could increase your home’s humidity and cause damage to surfaces.
- Do not allow clothes to dry inside your home.
Do you have questions or need more information? Just give us a call. We’d love to help you discover the best solution for your home!
Choosing a Countertop for You and Your Kitchen Part IIby Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2015-02-12 21:41:19
As we mentioned last time, new countertops are a great way to refresh your kitchen and add to value of your home. Plus, they are normally a critical part of any kitchen remodel or renovation project.
In our prior post, we discussed the more common countertops, including Granite, Marble, and Laminate. This time, let’s take a look at the newer and/or more unusual countertops that are on the market.
Solid Surface countertops are seamless, durable, and nonporous. Importantly, a scratch can easily be buffed out due to its accommodating composition. But as these countertops are susceptible to heat, a cutting board is a must.
Soapstone countertops are relatively durable, stain- and bacteria-resistant, and definitely unique in appearance. In fact, no two Soapstone countertops will ever be the same. While durable, soapstone is softer than most other surfaces and prone to scratching, pitting, and other damage. Some maintenance may also be required if you desire surface consistency as the countertop ages.
Concrete countertops can offer nearly unlimited design options relative to color, shape, and edge profiles. Likewise, a concrete countertop is highly durable and stain-resistant when sealed. However, the sealer can also hinder heat resistance, a tradeoff the homeowner will need to consider.
Bamboo countertops are not just for the tropical get-a-ways! With pricing comparable to other hardwood options, Bamboo can be an excellent renewable, environmentally-friendly choice. However, it is susceptible to heat and, despite its strength, can be nicked and dented.
Copper countertops are truly beautiful and can quickly add character to your kitchen. They are easy to clean, and by nature, are anti-bacterial. Depending on your tastes, though, a change in color when in contact with various substances can be a plus – or a negative. Copper can also scratch and dent easily, resulting in even more “character” over time.
Pewter countertops are easily stamped and formed. As a result, Pewter can accommodate nearly any shape and used for decorative, unique edges. Original Pewter contained lead and was not recommended for surfaces that would contact food. Today’s Pewter, however, is typically lead-free and can be used for countertops, backsplashes, and more. Soft by nature, Pewter can be scratched and dented.
Zinc countertops are unique as they are beautiful. Plus, they are resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew. Like other metal countertops, Zinc can scratch and dent and are susceptible to marks from hot pans.
IceStone® (or Bio-Glass) countertops are made from recycled glass and cement. If looking for an eco-friendly countertop, this may be your solution! They are durable, relatively nonporous, and heat-resistant. However, they are prone to cuts and scratches and require regular sealing.
Paper Composite (such as PaperStone®) countertops are a composite material made from post-consumer recycled paper. These countertops are durable, relatively heat- & stain-resistant, and easy to clean. They do, however, require sealing and shouldn’t be cleaned with abrasive materials. Some scratching can occur, as can staining on lighter colors.
That rounds out our discussion on the many countertops that we’ve seen used in kitchen and bathroom remodeling & renovation projects as well as new construction. If you have questions or need more information, just give us a call!
Check back again! We’ll continue to add helpful information for your remodeling, renovation, and new home projects.
Choosing a Countertop for You and Your Kitchen Part Iby Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2015-01-15 17:15:58
New countertops are a great way to refresh your kitchen and add to value of your home. Plus, they are normally a critical part of any kitchen remodel or renovation project.
Before choosing your new countertop, however, you should ask three important questions.
- First, what is my budget and how much can I afford? You don’t want to reach the halfway point and discover you’re out of money!
- Secondly, what is the “look” I am trying to achieve?
- Finally (and if not remodeling the entire kitchen), what color and textures will complement the rest of my kitchen?
Answer these questions and you are on your way to new kitchen countertops!
As there are many choices available, we would like to provide an overview of the pros and cons of the most common countertops. In the first half of our “Choosing a Countertop” discussion, we’ll take a closer look at some of the more common surfaces. Then in the second half, we’ll discover some of the newer and/or more unique countertops that homeowners are enjoying!
Let’s take a closer look:
Granite countertops offer plenty of character through unique grain patterns. For endurance, however, sealing is the number one priority.
Quartz, an engineered stone, is tough, nonporous, and eco-friendly. However, it’s not heat resistant so additional care must be taken to protect it from hot surfaces.
Marble countertops are heat resistant and the mainstay of classic elegance. Just ask any pastry baker you know! Everyone loves their unique patterns that come in countless color tones. While beautiful, the relative soft surface will etch and scratch. Accordingly, nonabrasive cleaning products are required to protect the surface when cleaning.
Laminate countertops are the surface of choice for budget-conscience homeowners. These materials are available in countless patterns and colors. Wood grains to glossy to marble-like looks are all available. Unfortunately, laminates are more susceptible to heat damage. Plus, they can take on an older, dull appearance as more scratches and dents occur.
Butcher Block countertops go with nearly all styles. They are truly beautiful and add warmth to any kitchen. Importantly, Butcher Block countertops are easy on knives and other cutting utensils and your options are limited only by available hardwood species. As a natural wood product, surfaces can be damaged by sharp edges and hot items. Proper (and regular) sealing can limit this and other damage from water and chemicals. Likewise, sealing will prevent germs from residing on the porous wood surface.
Tile countertops can offer homeowners a complete new look at an affordable price. Tile is durable and offers a wide array of selections that allow one’s creative sense to reign supreme in the kitchen. Unfortunately, keeping the grout clean may become a least favorite household chore. Likewise, rolling pie dough on a tiled surface will be a little more difficult.
Stainless Steel countertops are the mainstay of commercial kitchens. Stain-resistant, easy to clean, durable, and long-lasting are all factors that make them worthy of consideration for your home, too. However, water spots, smudges, and fingerprints are hard to keep at bay.
As you can see, there are many countertop options from which to choose. Next time, we’ll take a look at some other countertop materials, such as Solid Surface, Soapstone, and more!
Do you have questions or need more information? Just give us a call. We’d love to help you discover the best solution for your home!