Air fryers are the new top dogs of kitchen appliances and find their spot reserved on many countertops today. They have completely flipped the script for fried foods and sped up the process of cooking in general. If you want to grab a quick bite before leaving or it’s Thanksgiving and the oven hasn’t stopped beeping since morning, you can quickly air-fry some recipes and get done quickly.
With kitchen appliances like an air fryer comes a responsibility to avoid hazards. It is important to learn the dos and don’ts before diving into a recipe. You cannot experiment and take risks around electricity and fire. You should be au fait with the air fryer— what is safe to put in it and what isn’t, even if it is a common everyday product like an aluminium foil.
How does an air fryer work?
There are various parts to an air fryer. A food basket, heating coils, a heavy fan, and holes that circulate the heated air. They allow hot air to cook the food in the basket uniformly from all the sides, giving it a crispy texture comparable to deep frying but without using any oil. The heating element (a hot coil) and a blower that pumps the air are both hidden on the base of conventional air fryers. When the heat is above 320 degrees Fahrenheit, the pressure of the warm air delivers a convection oven effect.
Can you use aluminium foil and tin foil in an air fryer?
A loud booming yes! Both aluminium foil and tin foil can be used in an air fryer in place of baking sheets. It prevents the foods from creating a mess, and the gentle nature of foil allows it to be malleated into any shape as per your need.
Since most air fryers feature their heating coils and fans on the upper half of the appliance, just above the hollow in which the basket is housed, you would be okay, provided you just use aluminium foil to line the basket or the meals within it.
Any oil, sauce, or other fluids that drip while the items are cooking will be caught on the foil at the bottom of the basket, leaving it much simple to wipe the air fryer after each use. Due to the apparent mesh-like structure of the basket, it is not difficult to dirty an air fryer. It is expected to make the dispersion of hot air easier, but it will let a lot of crumbs, leftovers, fluids, and seasonings fall through and accumulate at the base. Aluminium foil may, of course, be used to prevent this.
Where does the foil go in the air fryer?
If something is safe to put in an oven, it should also be safe to put in an air fryer. Many people use a layer of foil in their ovens to duck wiping the mess after every use. Therefore, it is safe to use aluminium foil in an air fryer. However, there is a proper way of doing so.
The thumb rule to get around air fryers and aluminium foils is to sit the foil only in the basket. It should not be laid in the bottom of the drawer because the foil will get tossed around and displaced. It is a dangerous predicament as it can get caught in the heating element and cause the fryer to overheat, which can spark up a fire.
Another thing to keep in mind is to never use the foil without some food pressing down on it. Preheating the air fryer with just the foil layered over the basket can also make jam the heating element and cause a grease fire. The foil should not block the fan that is responsible for blowing out the air inside the fryer. It will basically render it useless and the food will remain uncooked.
What foods to avoid with aluminium foil
Although aluminium foil is safe to use with heating appliances, it does not necessarily mean that they are naturally concomitant, especially in cases of foods with high acidic value. Aluminium is a reactive metal that can cause a negative reaction when paired with acidic eatables. The acid starts to break down the aluminium and the food item absorbs it, making it unfit for consumption. Items like tomatoes, citrus fruits and peppers should stay on the sidelines if you are cooking something in the fryer using a foil.
How much foil to use?
It is important to use a small sheet of foil that fits the basket just perfectly. It should not engulf the basket and cover its holes or pour out from the edges. If you are cooking something that involves a rather pasty, semi-solid ingredient, the foil sheet should be big enough only to prevent the goo from trickling down.
Moreover, the holes located at the bottom of the basket maintain a steady circulation of air in the fryer that cooks the food evenly from all sides. Covering these holes that are all the reason why an air fryer is an ‘air’ fryer would be shooting yourself in the foot! The food will turn brown on the top and remain uncooked from the bottom and the sides.
A smart way to safely use foil in an air fryer is to lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of it. It would not react to the ingredients and prevent any seeping of substances or stickiness. There are many options for parchment paper in the market that have specially designed circles for air fryers and are also environmental friendly. These papers adjust well with all foodstuffs because they are not sticky, they are heat-resistant, they absorb oil, and they simplify the task of cleaning once the cooking is done.
You can also skip the foil entirely and use only parchment paper. It does the job just as well, except when you want to lift your food a little for better cooking. You can use the foil for storing the food after you are done cooking to maintain freshness and warmth.
The sling technique
This could sound funny at first, but anybody who has struggled to remove something hot straight out of a saucepan using a pair of tongs is aware of how risky they are. The bottom of the item hits the pan’s rim and you end up losing hold of the tongs or your wrist hurts. The safest and easier way to do this can be by using aluminium foil. They are soft, moldable and can be shaped however you like.
You can use sheets of foil to make a ‘sling’. It is a strip of aluminium foil rolled into a band that you draw from the pan before lifting your baked good. This makes pulling out food from the pan easy without it crumbling apart or sticking to the bottom.
You can make this sling by taking a long narrow sheet of foil and folding it in half twice to make a slightly thick piece that can give you a good grip when you are putting food into the fryer. After that, you can simply pinch these pieces in, and pull them out again when the food needs to be taken out.
Aluminium foil for elevating food
If you are cooking something dense and want it to be nicely brown and crusty, you can pull out your roll of aluminium foil again. After tearing a piece of foil, you can knead it in your fist lightly to get it in an uneven shape (go as creative as you want!). This bumpy hunk can be placed in the basket under a food item to lift it a bit and bring it closer to the heating element. This proximity will cook the food at greater heat and give you a warm crispy meal!
What to avoid putting in an air fryer?
An air fryer essentially blows hot air around the hollow of the appliance and cooks food without using grease or oil of any sort. Since this air is heavy and high in pressure, you should avoid putting in foods that are too light or have tiny seasonings on top of them as they might get fanned and displaced, or they can get stuck in the fryer’s heating coil. This can result in overheating or blockage and is very dangerous.
Wet batters should also be prevented since, as you might guess, the fan will blast the mixture across the air fryer, making a mess on the internal surfaces. You should use a thicker batter than normal to guarantee that the batter clings to the food rather than getting sprayed all around the air fryer.
Using foil in an air fryer is perfectly okay as long as basic safety measures are taken. In the end, foil isn’t the nicest heating paper for using in an air fryer. The safest way is to use an empty basket or one lined with perforated parchment paper.