This kitchen appliance is in the spotlight at the moment. Maybe you have one already, or you’re wondering if it’s worth giving up that valuable storage space and getting one. Air fryers are a way to make deep-fried foods healthier, by using much less oil. They were first introduced in the early 2000s, but popularity really took off in the last year. An air fryer is actually a compact countertop convection oven. Food is placed in a suspended basket and high speed fans circulate hot air which cooks the food. Oil droplets in the hot air coats the surface of whatever you’re cooking in a thin layer of oil. So although you do use some oil, it’s only a few teaspoons – compared to deep frying where you completely submerge food in oil and need several cups of it. The food therefore absorbs much less oil than deep frying, which means it is lower in fat and kilojoules.
Air fryers brown the outer layer of the food and make it crispy and crunchy. Although the texture and taste isn’t exactly the same as deep fried food, it is pretty close. The most popular things to make in them are chips, roast vegetables, bacon and breaded chicken. But they are very versatile and essentially you can pretty much make most things that you would in a normal convection oven, and most brands also sell other accessories like pans and tins to go with the air fryer so the possibilities are endless.
The main drawcard of air fryers are their ability to make healthier versions of deep fried foods. However there are other benefits too. They use less energy than a conventional convection oven. They are very efficient and can reduce cooking time drastically. You also won’t have to clean up splattered grease all over the kitchen for hours, they can be cleaned quite easily. Another way in which air fried foods are healthier than deep fried is their lower amount of acrylamide. Acrylamide is a chemical compound that forms in starchy foods, like potatoes, during high temperature cooking, and many studies show that it is a potential carcinogen.
Air fryers range in prices according to brand and size, but will set you back several thousand rand. They also take up quite a bit of precious counter space. But if you’re wanting to make healthier versions of fried foods or you just love trying out any innovative new cooking techniques it might be worth getting one. Because they are so versatile many components of our DayToDay meals can be made in an air fryer.