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An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that cooks by circulating hot air around the food using the convection mechanism. A mechanical fan circulates the hot air around the food at high speed, cooking the food and producing a crispy layer via the Maillard effect.
Traditional frying methods induce the Maillard effect by completely submerging foods in hot oil. The air fryer works by coating the desired food in a thin layer of oil while circulating air heated up to 200 °C (392 °F) to apply heat and initiate the reaction. By doing this, the appliance is able to fry foods like potato chips, chicken, fish, steak, cheeseburgers, french fries or pastries using 70% to 80% less oil than a traditional deep-fryer.
Most air fryers have temperature and timer adjustments that allow more precise cooking. Food is cooked in a cooking basket that sits atop a drip tray. The basket and its contents must be periodically shaken to ensure even oil coverage. Some models accomplish this by incorporating a food agitator that continuously churns the food during the cooking process, while others require the user to perform the task manually.
It is generally agreed that the taste and consistency of foods cooked by traditional fried and air fried techniques are not identical.
Convection ovens and air fryers are similar in the way they cook food, but air fryers are generally smaller than convection ovens and give off less heat. Similar results can be achieved by using specialized air crisper trays and putting them in a convection oven.
Some air fryers are equipped with accessories, such as pizza pans, skewer racks, and cake barrels.
Air fryers use circulating hot air to cook food that would otherwise be submerged in oil. The air fryer's cooking chamber radiates heat from a heating element near the food, thus cooking it more efficiently. A fan is generally used to circulate hot air around the food. The opening at the top is used to take air in and there is an exhaust at the back that controls the temperature by releasing any undesired hot air. It is also used to counter any increases in internal pressure. The temperatures inside can go up to 200 °C/400 °F depending on the model. For safety, it is essential to not put oil inside the air fryer or have flammable objects near the air fryer. In general, cooking times in the air fryer are reduced by 20% in comparison with traditional ovens. This varies per brand and the quantity of the food cooked in the air fryer.
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The original patent for Air fryer was filed by Turbochef Technologies in 2005 and was targeted at large hotel chains and eating outlets.
In 2010, Philips introduced the Airfryer, a new kitchen appliance at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA), an important consumer electronics fair in Berlin. It was developed using the patented Rapid Air technology. It was introduced by Philips’ marketing managers and Fred van der Weij, the inventor of the technology, who also owned APDS, a small product development firm founded in 1990, and under which the retail-scale Airfryer was developed.
Several years prior to this success, Fred was not happy with the results he achieved with the fat-free fryer he bought via a television sales ad. As an engineer and food aficionado, his discontent triggered his desire to solve the problems he was encountering with his fryer. He started working on a better version of this popular appliance. By 2007, he had found a way to optimize the fryer so that it worked properly. At that time, however, he did not have the financial means or business insight to market the product properly. Coincidentally, Fred met Hans Brocker. After working for Braun as a commercial director for 24 years, Hans started a company that guides inventors in marketing their ideas. He immediately recognized the potential of Fred’s invention and became a shareholder of KCS, the daughter company of APDS, which was tapped to manage the new product. The partners first tried to secure a bank loan and external investors, but were not successful. Eventually, Fred developed the prototype himself by teaming with Chinese partners who were part of the network to which Hans had access. They subsequently filed for a patent. Two years later, the prototype was ready and Hans and Fred developed the product strategy. Because Fred had connections with Braun, they first presented their invention there, but Braun officials were not interested. As their next step they contacted Philips.
Since 2005, Philips had been trying to develop a fryer that makes the frying process healthier. They had the technology, but were struggling to transform it into a consumer product that was consistent with the Philips credo of sense and simplicity. The product they initially developed was too complex and too expensive. Early in 2009, KCS, the small company owned by Fred van der Weij and Hans Brocker contacted them. They had developed a product that not only used appropriate technology, but could also be translated into a consumer product that is simple and user-friendly. Godwin Zwanenburg, the Innovation Lead at Philips Consumer Lifestyle, presented the idea to his commercial team, and they decided to sign a letter of intent so they could start the investigation phase. In this phase, various aspects of a potential product undergo rigorous testing for safety, technical specifications, applicability, and quality. The product passed every test, and Philips decided to sign a licensing agreement with the inventors. They subsequently created the Airfryer, an appliance that uses 80% less fat than a traditional fryer by implementing Rapid Air Technology. The appliance was fashioned according to the typical look and feel of Philips’ products. It has achieved significant success in major markets across the world.
As of 2019, there are a host of brands selling Air fryers.
Counter-top air fryers provide an alternative to traditional oil frying. The circulating hot air has many applications in the kitchen, including cooking:
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