There’s no denying that air fryers are immensely popular as it’s recipes are sweeping the nation. But if you have ever wished to know, “what is an air fryer?” or “how an air fryer works?” This guide reveals all about this cooking giant.
What is an Air Fryer?
This small appliance “fries” food using a small amount of oil and hot air. It cooks crispy fried foods such as meat, pastries and potato chips with less fat than deep-frying and faster than a conventional oven. An air fryer is similar to an oven, with the difference of its top-located heating components. Moreover, it consists of a huge powerful fan which is designed to evenly distribute the heat, and thus, results in cooking super crispy food with less oil in no time.
How does Air Fryer work?
Firstly all you need to know is- air fryers don’t really fry. Instead, the food is baked in a perforated basket and the machine cooks the food at a high temperature by blowing heat air around it. The hot air is speedily circulated around food, which in turn produces a crunchy, crispy exterior.
Foods like frozen chicken tenders, french fries or tater tots will become brown, once the temperature of the air exceeds 320 F.
Here, it brings the air fryer under the limelight as it just uses a little amount of oil instead of entirely toasting it in the container full of oil. And result- the exact similar taste and texture as deep fried foods, in fact better than that.
What Can be Cooked In An Air Fryer?
If you do decide to invest in this appliance, let’s take a look at the foods that can be cooked in an air fryer.
Air fryers are best used for:
Simply done in an air fryer — burgers, chicken breasts, steak, pork chops — it’s not required to bread them. The air fryer cooks the food to the perfect temperature. There’s no need to add oil in most meats as they’re already so juicy. So, just add salt and your favorite herbs and spices and they are done.
Vegetables: Air fryers are great for cooking vegetables like Broccoli, Cauliflower, French beans, root vegetables and much more.
Heating the food again: This is the best service of an air fryer. You can quickly reheat leftovers, especially pizza and french fries. They come out so crispy!
Remember You can’t cook foods dipped in liquid batter. Also avoid putting cheese, onion rings or fried chicken in an air fryer. While the former will turn up into a cheesy gooey mess, the latter will simply drip through the holes and cook unevenly. So you are confined to breaded or dry-seasoned food items.
Difference between an Air Fryer and Deep Fryer?
Air fryers work under high temperature with a high-intensity fan to bake food whereas deep fryers use more oil which has been heated up to a particular temperature in order to cook food.
The time consumed is another big difference, as the deep fryer takes upto 10minutes to cook food while an air fryer needs practically zero preheat time. Moreover, air fryers require little or no oil as compared to deep fryers where they require a lot of oil. The food which comes out is both crispy and juicy in both the kitchen appliances, but the huge difference is reflected in the taste. It may be because foods in deep fryers are coated in batter and it gets cooked differently as compared to an air fryer.
So, if you are ready to happily live with minimal oil and fried veggies, then yes, air frying is definitely a healthier option as compared to deep-frying.
Are there any Problems in an Air Fryer?
Though air fryers are designed to be enduring, they may experience problems from time to time, like any other household apparatus. But most of the problems are small and can be fixed easily. Some of these common issues are:
A Lingering odour
You can experience a lingering odour on your air fryer which is basically left by the foods with a pungent smell. So it’s important to clean the fryer once you are done with the cooking. If the smell still prevails, you can clean it using soap water or you can also try neutralizing the odour by using the lemon and rubbing it over the pan and the basket of the air fryer.
Bubbles coming out
The components of an air fryer have a non-stick coating on them. So, if you accidentally place the basket in the fryer or got the pan scratched by any utensil, you may witness the bubbles that are caused by the heat from cooking. But, there’s no need to worry as the non-stick coating is not harmful and does not even pose a health risk. You can contact the customer service if bubbles occur in the lining, you can also ask for a warranty replacement.
The pan doesn’t fit into the fryer
If you will put extra food in the basket, then you may face the difficulty of sliding the pan into the fryer. So, in such kind of issues, remove some of the food and try to cook your meal in two rounds. Also, check for the basket if it has been attached properly to the pan. If not, then drag the basket out of the pan and implant it again. Ensure it click, to know it’s been properly fixed.
Discharge of white smoke
If you see white smoke coming out of the cooking pan it means an excess of grease has been collected in the bottom of the drip pan. This, in turn, breaks down with the heat and discharges as the white smoke. In order to avoid it, you should clean the pan after every usage and while particularly cooking greasy items like sausage or bacon. Need not to worry as the smoke won’t cause any damage. Just unplug the fryer, cool it and then clean out the grease.
The food is not cooked properly
If you are facing the problem of improper cooking of food, the issue might be related to percolation. As it happens sometimes that food in the top layer absorbs the heat from the coil of the fryer instead of percolating to the lower layers.
Therefore, always try to cook small chunks of food or shake the basket halfway through cooking. It will result in better circulation and will allow the heat to get distributed evenly over the food.
You should always toss your food with at least a little amount of oil. Manufacturers also give the same suggestion. However, there are a few food items that require no oil while air frying. For example- chicken drumsticks with skin on. But most do.
If you do not have any other cooking appliance, you can use your air fryer for roasting or baking. Just remember to not expect the same results as you get in a traditional oven.
Most of the air fryers brands advertise that their gadget doesn’t require pre-heating, but is always advisable to preheat it before cooking. An air fryer will take just 2-3 minutes to preheat and which is worth for ideal cooking.
As long as it fits inside the basket, you can use any microwave-safe dish, ovenproof material or mold made of glass, good quality ceramic, steel, silicone, and cast iron as long as it fits inside the basket. Paper molds for cupcakes and muffins are also allowed to be used.
As mentioned above, you can’t cook foods dipped in liquid batter. Also, the food that requires wet heat cannot be cooked in an air fryer. The liquid can splash everywhere due to the circulation of hot air and it can also stick to the bottom of the air fryer, leading to burnt, chewy food.
You can cut a lot of calories as the air fryers use significantly less oil than traditional frying. This is the major reason that you can opt for air fryers. Any day, air-frying is a healthier option than regular frying. However, if you have planned to serve the food for a big crowd (during get togethers), the size of the air fryer may spoil your plans. This is because you cannot cook a lot of food in one go. You will have to cook food in smaller batches.
Yes, aluminium foil can be used in an air fryer but you will have to be extra careful with it. These tips can be your saviour:
Avoid placing the foil on the pan, rather use the aluminium foil at the bottom of the basket.
Remember to not cook acidic foods like lemon, tomatoes and vinegar based items on top of the aluminium foil. It may result in metallic taste and can also leave its residues.
Keep the small portion of the aluminium sheet on the basket. Do not cover it entirely
Never place the food below the aluminium foil. Keep it at the top or else, it can get absorbed in the heating vent leading to a fire!
Air fryers are surely a king-maker to your recipes in the kitchen. They are a great alternative to deep fryers and touted as one of the healthiest methods of frying food. So, focus on your health benefits by forgoing so much oil and get your air fryer today!