Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Looks Good, Feels Cold, But The Frigidaire 21 Cubic Foot Stainless Steel Freezer Just Can't Keep Ice Cream Solid!

The Good: Spacious, Energy efficient, Looks good
The Bad: Can't keep ice cream hard!
The Basics: A beautiful looking, but ultimately disappointing freezer ruins this potentially fine appliance.

I have, in general, shied away from reviewing appliances because - unlike most media - I feel there is only so much one may write about an appliance using good judgment before one runs out of things to write. However, on the rare attempts I have made to write about appliances, those who review my reviews always seem to want more. So, I've decided to take a stab at getting it right the first time with my review of the Frigidaire Gallery Stainless Steel Refrigerator/freezer.

First of all, this Frigidaire stands almost six feet tall, with interior dimensions that give it 21.2 cubic feet of storage space. This is a massive refrigerator and the freezer is nice as well with about a third of the space of the refrigerator. I'll be honest; this is a great appliance for a big family needing to store a lot of food. As it is, only two people (and a cat) make use of it in my household and were it not included in the house we bought, odds are we would have gotten something smaller. However, it is very nice for the option of stocking up on a lot of food.

We opted for the stainless steel finish, though it is available in the classic white and the black as well. The stainless steel finish is nice and fits our decor well. In addition, it is very easy to clean. Usually, one pass with a sponge and anything that's on the outer surface comes right off. One of the mystifying elements of this device, however, is that while the stainless steel seems fine on the sides, no magnet we have purchased will stick to the front of the refrigerator or freezer doors.

Inside the freezer is a single shelf. An ice tray and ice cube holder came with the freezer as well. The freezer door (on the inside) has the standard (horizontal) split level shelf going for it (the type that holds the average frozen juice jar). The refrigerator door has one full length shelf good for holding large bottles and four split level shelves (i.e. they each take up half the width of the door) which may be configured in a dizzying number of arrangements to hold various bottles of different sizes. Inside the refrigerator are two crispers with varying humidity control (does it actually work? Who knows! Everything seems fine without drying out in there!), and four split level shelves that pop easily into their brackets and (after six months of continuous use) show no signs of slipping out of their brackets without warning.

In short, the inside of this refrigerator/freezer is an homage to the power of choice. There are literally hundreds of ways one might configure the shelves inside the refrigerator. It's easy to clean and, when set at medium settings, it is VERY energy efficient. This refrigerator/freezer set had one of the lowest energy usages of any refrigerator/freezer we looked at. The fine print, I noticed, is that the energy efficiency is for the medium (factory installed) settings. In truth, since I've cranked the freezer up (or, I suppose, down), I have noticed no significant change in the energy bill.

However, there are two significant problems with this refrigerator/freezer set. The first is the doors. The doors look great (though they can't hold magnets) and seem to close easily. However, the freezer door is a model for the not-lazy person. If one were to simply close the refrigerator door by letting go of it, it would, but the vibration would open the freezer door. It pays not to be lazy. Within the first two days I discovered that even well-balanced, our refrigerator door needed to be closed gently to prevent the freezer door from opening.

The real problem is in the freezer. I preface this by saying that: 1. There is no problem with the seal on my freezer, 2. I learned early on in my relationship with this machine how to close the refrigerator door so as to not disturb the freezer, and 3. I have never had any food in the refrigerator go bad. The freezer, however, is a mystery to me. For some reason, the freezer cannot seem to stay cold enough to keep ice cream hard.

Perhaps one of my under-emphasized qualities in my reviews is my love of ice cream. I am an ice cream fiend. If you read my review on my milkshake maker (click here for that!), you'd know, I am a person who loves the ice cream. I like ice cream hard, cold and flavorful. This freezer is possibly my worst nightmare. I have it stationed well away from anything hot, warm or even remotely lukewarm. But the ice cream never gets hard. I have tried every possible configuration in my freezer and waited DAYS before opening it and never does the ice cream get hard.

I have filled the freezer to 2/3 full as the manual directs and I have placed a box of ice cream near the back near the cooling element, near the front, top shelf, bottom shelf, emptied the freezer, filled the freezer, made sure of adequate circulation, you name is, but never have I enjoyed a hard to scoop, ice cold lump of ice cream since I've owned this machine. I am in soft ice cream hell. And let me tell you, it stinks to be here.

In short, the freezer is the real drawback here; the only thing that has gotten hard in it is ice cubes and meatloaf. And before someone comments on this review; I've tried every brand of ice cream in this freezer from Breyers to Ben & Jerry's to store brand generic. Even now, in the middle of winter, I have the fool thing cranked to the coldest setting and I still cannot make this stuff solid.

This refrigerator is excellent (I'd likely give 10/10 to the refrigerator) and I've had no problems with it and the ensemble looks fantastic. But the freezer is a liability to those who like things actually worry-free frozen. And you don't have to be a lover of hard hard ice cream to want things in the freezer to last a long time. Now that I'm done with that, I'll go make some juice; coming out of the freezer, it'll be pretty much ready to go. Darn . . .

For other kitchen appliance reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Frigidaire FEF336EC Electric Range
Frigidaire FFC07C3A Chest Freezer
Cuisinart ICE-20/ICE-21 Ice Cream Maker


For other kitchen appliance reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010, 2004 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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