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November 2021 EnergyWise Tip: Air Fryers


November 2021 EnergyWiseSM Tip: Air Fryers

By: Energy Efficiency Program Manager Cory Fuehrer

Think quick: What is the most common side dish to serve with a cheeseburger? Naturally, you said "French fries". In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture cited during the 2000s, U.S. per capita consumption of frozen potatoes averaged 55 pounds per year. With that kind of eating, you would think we invented deep frying!

In reality, the process of deep-frying foods started in the 5th millennium BC. Having invented deep-frying during that time, Egyptians had no idea it would change the culinary world. During the middle ages, fritters, which are dough batter filled with meats or fruits, became popular throughout Europe. Finally, in the 1830s, fried potatoes or "French Fries" became popular in France and Belgium. Today, people have become very creative and will fry just about anything.

By the late 1800s, cast iron cookware became widely available and people began preparing fried foods in their homes. In 1918, the Pitco Frialator was invented. This piece of equipment quickly became a staple in restaurant kitchens since it extended the life of cooking oil. Shortly thereafter, National Presto Industries, one of the forerunners in the electric housewares industry, began selling some of the first electric home fryers. In 1976, they introduced "The Fry Baby," further solidifying our love affair with fried foods.

But the 1980s brought a new focus on the connection between nutrition and health. By the end of the last millennium, studies were underway identifying the correlation between fried food intake and increased risk of heart disease, elevated blood pressure and obesity, among other problems. To date, no study has shown a positive correlation between fried food intake and good health.

Does this mean we must give up our long-lived passion for fried food? No! Introduced in 2005 for commercial kitchens, air fryers have recently gained popularity for home use as a great alternative to oil fryers. Here are some of the reasons:

Efficiency – Traditional fryers work by flash cooking food. After an oil-filled vat is heated to the necessary temperature, food is placed in a basket and completely submerged. Since oil fryers often produce fumes, ventilation is recommended. But air fryers can cook with just a tablespoon of or no oil at all using a sealed cooking compartment and circulating hot air around the food. Thus, it emits no fumes and releases less heat. If someone is trying to keep the kitchen cool, this is appreciated. Though air fryer cooking times are slightly longer when compared to traditional fryers, more heat is kept in the fryer.

Safety – Ever notice what happens when frozen food is put into extremely hot oil? Oil splatters everywhere. In addition, potentially harmful fumes can be created during the cooking process. Air fryers dramatically reduce these risks because all the cooking occurs in a locked compartment. When finished, most models turn off, which reduces the chance of burnt food.

Easy to Clean – Since most of its parts are removable and dishwasher-safe, cleaning an air fryer is a breeze! Compare that to time spent draining, storing or disposing of oil, disassembling, and then scouring an oil fryer.

Less Cost to Operate – Quality cooking oil costs a significant amount of money. Assuming it is not scorched during use and stored properly, the oil may be usable a couple more times before it

becomes too contaminated from previous use and needs to be disposed of. With an air fryer, little or no oil is needed.

Healthier Meals – Using little or no oil when air frying ensures excess oil is not soaked up by your food. That translates to fewer calories and less fat.

Versatility – Deep fryers are strictly for frying foods. With an air fryer, different accessories allow users to grill and roast foods. Air fryers can even bake desserts!

Your local electric utility, in partnership with Nebraska Public Power District, want to help you make the most of the energy and cost of keeping you and your family fed! For additional ways you can become more EnergyWiseSM, visit with your local electric utility or go to www.nppd.com.

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