With the cost of living crisis affecting many, the hunt is on to find not just affordable food but also the most economical way of preparing it.
And because food is so vital to our physical and mental well-being there’s also the added incentive of ensuring it is tasty and healthy.
This combination has led to a surprise newcomer in the festive and New Year sales charts because battling it out amongst the Playstations and Boba Fett’s Lego starship, Barbie Folls and Play-Doh is a kitchen appliance that has taken the nation by storm.
Sainsburys, John Lewis, PC World and others all report bounce-back trading figures for the last quarter, with air fryers leading the way.
With stocks of the most in demand models selling out quickly there were even reports of some customers bulk buying and then selling air fryers at a profit on ebay and other sites as word of the latest miracle gadget spread.
The first air fryers started appearing a decade ago, they’ve improved rapidly since then and it’s now estimated over one third of UK households own one.
Rather than “fry” food, air fryers actually operate by circulating very hot air. This uses far less oil than deep fat frying so as a result items taste crispy but have far fewer calories. A portion of french fries cooked in an air fryer will cost you 176 calories – deep fried it will be 471 calories. Meanwhile, air fried crispy chicken will have half the calories of deep fried.
And whilst an air fryer operates more like a convection oven that a deep fat fryer, because it is more compact the amount of energy used is less than that of a conventional oven and food cooks quicker.
Research by Iceland and Utilita found that an air fryer would cost £52.74 per year to power, while electric and gas cookers cost about £316 and £264 a year respectively.
A couple of caveats to that. You can cook more food in an oven that an air fryer so if you batch cook the comparative cost of an oven will come down. In addition, most air fryers can’t cook for more than three people so you’d have to buy and use two appliances or more for big meals, which pushes costs up.
So, whilst air fryers might put deep fryers on a back burner, they are unlikely to replace the traditional oven for larger households or those who like hosting dinner parties. However, if you have the space they are a worthwhile cost effective and health conscious addition to the kitchen.
And they are just perfect for cooking food made by SK Chilled Foods!