Adventures in Air Frying
I’m guessing you’ve noticed that summers aren’t getting any cooler these days. Here in Portland, while we haven’t had heat waves, we’ve had plenty of hot days with little cooling at night.
And for those like me, who only have air conditioning in the bedroom, that can make for some uncomfortable days in the kitchen.
Not that I do a lot of cooking and baking in the summer, but I do some, and turning on my oven makes me wince – which is why I decided it was time to get an air fryer.
I opted for an air fryer oven model since I wanted the option of baking, particularly since it was replacing my toaster oven. It was exciting to think about trying new things and experimenting with cooking.
It’s taken a bit of experimentation, with some ups and downs, but so far, I’m enjoying it.
The first things I cooked in the air fryer were Italian sausages. Previously, I cooked them in my toaster oven, and I was curious how this would compare.
I’d say they definitely cooked faster in the air fryer, especially on the top shelf (mine has three shelves for the trays); the top cooks noticeably faster than items on the bottom shelf.
It was also an easy cleanup since the air fryer trays and the drip pan are nonstick. The only thing I had to figure out was where to put the trays to cool once I took them out of the air fryer. I didn’t want to put them on anything cloth, since grease had run through the drip openings, and I eventually put them on top of a bowl. But I’ve since gotten a couple of other small trays I can use as makeshift cooling racks, so that should be fine.
I’d also heard that air frying vegetables is easy and makes them taste great, so I wanted to try that next. My first attempt was with zucchini.
The online recipe I found said to slice the zucchini thinly, place the rounds on the trays, spray both sides with cooking oil, and air fry them for 5-6 minutes at 400 degrees.
I did that, and they looked good, but to me, the rounds had a strange aerosol taste. Maybe I put too much spray on them, or I had the can too close to them, but they weren’t appealing.
I decided to try a second batch, this time brushing the zucchini rounds with a little olive oil. That worked much better, with no funny aftertaste.
So from now on, I’ll use that approach for veggies. And I’ll add that the air fryer heats up a little, but it doesn’t get the kitchen as warm as the oven would if I wanted to roast veggies.
Then I decided to get fancy and try making donuts. But it didn’t exactly go to plan.
I used one of the many air fryer donut recipes online, one that used yeast, and for some reason, I didn’t get much of a rise with the dough, even though I’d just bought the yeast. I decided to try cutting out and cooking the donuts anyway, but the results were nothing like donuts. Not only did they not get puffy, but they tasted more like bread than donuts.
I scrapped those and asked my dad for his donut recipe, even though I knew he used a deep fat fryer instead of an air fryer. I immediately noticed two big differences: his recipe didn’t use yeast, and it called for a cup of sugar – whereas the recipe I used only had 1/4 cup of sugar. No wonder the results tasted more like bread.
I decided to try my dad’s recipe and see if I could make donut holes in the air fryer. What I got aren’t exactly donut holes, although they taste more like donuts than my first attempt.
I also realize that I’m facing an uphill battle by not only using an air fryer but also using gluten-free flour and flax meal as an egg replacement. So, I may try one more yeast recipe that claims it’s gluten-free and vegan – but I’m going to stay skeptical about just how much they’ll turn out like traditional donuts.
Fun of experimentation
Although I’ve had some setbacks on my air fryer journey, it’s been fun to experiment. And it’s a good reminder that food should be fun! It’s much more pleasant to approach cooking with that sense of excitement and adventure than as a chore and with the dread of my kitchen heating up.
From that standpoint, the air fryer has been a success. And I hope you, too, can find some fun with food this summer – and that you can avoid overheating.