My wife has told me I should write about air fryers ever since I started this blog.
She wants to get one herself and told me some information about them would be helpful.
I wrote it on my list of possible article topics but haven’t gotten around to writing something.
And it wasn’t until only a moment ago that I realised: I don’t actually know what an air fryer is!
So what is an air fryer?
An air fryer is a small specialized convection oven that uses very hot air instead of oil to cook food. The hot circulating air causes the food surface to get crispy and seals up the moisture inside, just like frying.
In this article I will discuss:
When I first heard the term “air fryer”, I had this idea of potato chips being fried in hot air instead of hot oil.
Something about it seemed a bit weird and I didn’t give it much thought thereafter.
Until it was recommended that I do an article on it.
To my big surprise, there are currently heaps of different brands on the market!
What is the definition of frying?
The traditional way of frying something is to fully expose it to hot oil, either in a pan (pan frying) or by submerging in hot oil (deep frying).
The average temperature of this frying oil is 284 °F to 329 °F (140 °C to 160 °C).
The reason for the oil needing to be so hot is to initiate the Maillard effect.
The distinctive flavor of browned food comes from the Maillard effect, also called nonenzymatic browning.
It is a chemical reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids and causes the browning in color with the accompanying changes in flavor.
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is a smaller and more compact version of a convection oven.
They both work on basically the same principle in that they both use a fan to circulate hot air around food.
Air fryers are designed, though, to mimic food being put in hot oil to fry. So there is still a little oil involved that is just enough to coat the food items. The use of a bit of oil with air frying is optional, though.
How do air fryers work?
Just like a convection oven, an air fryer has an electrical heating element.
A fan blows air over this heating element into the enclosed space that contains the food to be fried.
This hot air does almost the same as the hot oil in that it rapidly heats up the outer surface of the food.
That causes a type of seal around the food. As heat is conducted into the food, the water inside the food starts to heat up and the food items basically gets boiled from the inside.
Some people still use a little oil spray on the food to give it that bit of oiliness and oil-frying aroma.
The difference in frying with air and frying in oil
The main difference is that the food fried in an air fryer is much less oily than food fried in oil.
This has major health advantages, especially in an era where junk food has contributed to an all time high of cardiovascular diseases caused by fatty diets.
There are still people using a bit of oil on some foods in air fryers for a bit of extra flavour. Not much oil is used, though, with food only needing a small layer of oil to mimic genuine oil frying.
Air fryers are a good replacement if you are looking for a healthier alternative to oil frying.
If you are interested in buying an air fryer, be sure to check out this article to see which air fryers are the most popular!