Safety Considerations in Panini Presses
Safety may not always be the first thing you consider when shopping for kitchen appliances like a panini grill, but it’s definitely something that you shouldn’t ignore. The high temperatures that can be achieved with panini presses make them a higher risk for causing kitchen accidents, but there are a few simple ways you can put safety first when you buy your next press.
Check for Exposed Heating Areas
Hands down, the most dangerous part of a panini press are the heating plates, since they are the areas that are going to be conducting the heat necessary to cook your foods. The most important aspect of the plates that you need to be aware of has to do with the edges, where you could accidentally come into contact with an exposed section. For maximum safety, there should not be any section of the edges of the plates that remain exposed when the press itself is closed. The outer material of the press, which may be plastic or stainless steel, should curve around the edges to offer a buffer from direct contact.
Be Aware of Fire Hazards
You should also think about the rear of the panini press, especially if the model also converts into a griddle or grill. Some of these models may have exposed areas at the back when in panini press mode that are meant to line up when in grilling mode. If this is the case, make sure that there is ample room behind the press and that it is not near any flammable or combustible materials. In some instances, steam or smoke from using the press may also accidentally set off smoke alarms.
Look for Protected Handles
Since the press is going to be reaching incredibly high temperatures, it’s very important to locate a model that has adequate protection on its handles. Any press that has completely metal handles with no plastic or rubber coating can burn you when it heats up. Also, you should not have to use a towel or oven mitts to operate the press, as this can impede your ability to operate the press and may lead to additional safety complications.
Type and Position of Drip Tray
Many presses that also double as grills may include a drip tray to catch oil and liquid runoff, but improper placement of the tray can lead to serious risks. Many presses require you to place the tray at the front of the device so that liquids can run out the front, meaning that you must place the tray so that nothing spills out onto your counter. Pools of liquids near appliances such as these are serious electrocution risks, so make sure that you have enough room to properly place the tray as directed. Models with built-in trays take up less space, but still need to be emptied after each use.
The Importance of Locks
Locks on panini presses allow you to firmly and securely keep the lid in the closed position when you are not using the device, though some may also use the lock to keep the lid pressing down on the food during cooking. These locks, which are typically sliding mechanisms rather than anything that would require a key, ensure that you don’t accidentally open up the press during transport or other situations. Many models do not feature any locks, so take this into consideration when reviewing the specifications for each model.
A Note on Child Safety
While all of the tips above apply to adults, there are some extra precautions you should take if you have small children in the home. In order to prevent children from accidental harm, you should avoid any models that have open heating areas or that have separate drip trays, as the child may attempt to reach up for it and spill it.