Updated: Mar 12
A year ago, I received an air-fryer as a gift for Christmas. I'm not one big on countertop appliances. I don't own a microwave or a toaster, but I was intrigued when my sister-in-law told me how much she loved hers. I thought I would give it a try considering my love for homemade french-fries.
I don't much worry about fat content. I have studied medical articles, studies, and journals in-depth about cholesterol, fat, and heart disease. I side with the idea that unrefined and minimally processed fats and oils, such as slow-rendered lard, are perfectly healthy when they come from farms that raise animals all-natural on pasture with whole foods and not refined bag feed, such as my homestead. I have done my studies here with animals and taken medical tests that support these beliefs.
I was excited about the idea of less of an oil mess than my deep fryer and perhaps speeding up the process. I threw out the recipe book right away. I went to slamming organic taters through my dicer, oiled them with a drizzle of lard, tossed them with salt in a bowl, flipped them in airborne circles, and threw them in the fryer. I pounded the french-fry button, and within minutes I watched sultry steam pour from the sides of the appliance.
I aimed my little kitchen fan at the air-fryer to help waft away the excess moisture for a crispy fry, and after a few basket shakes and a little more waiting, I had a pile of excellent crispy organic potatoes on a plate. This was heavenly! I quickly learned that extending the cooking made super crispy "shoestring" potatoes that went well with sandwiches.
When done cooking, I'd put the entire bottom two baskets into the dishwasher for a quick no-scratch clean. This was so much better than wiping grease down from all over my stove and tossing out paper towels full of oil. Clean up was a snap! It was so easy to use, I made organic french-fries every weekend, instead of just once or twice a month.
Spring came, and the organic asparagus started popping up in our patch. I had just learned how steaming or boiling asparagus gives it a more grassy and bitter flavor, but hot, dry-heat gives it a meatier, less sour taste. It wasn't long before I was tossing asparagus in the fryer and shaking the basket. Sure enough. This hot, dry-heat put just the right amount of crisp on the edges, cooking them thoroughly without making them soggy. It was perfect for a quick and healthy green lunch each afternoon. What an awesome tool!
Summer storm power outages made the air-fryer out to be a fast cooking fajita maker on the front porch while directly plugged into the generator. I loved this thing! Endless crispy french-fries at my fingertips to my lips in about twelve minutes, and I was already looking forward to next year's asparagus.
Fall came, and I was cleaning the house getting ready for Thanksgiving. Trying to break up the holiday food scene, I made a large batch of Hawaiian brats from our pasture-raised Berkshire hogs, and I was too tired to put them on the grill for dinner. I thought I would air fry them instead. I opened up the air fryer to see a glimmer of silver at the bottom of the pan. On a little closer inspection, I could see all of the non-stick coatings had come off of the raised ribs in the cross-sections of the basket.
I was shocked! I had never put a utensil in the pan and never scrubbed it. Just the gentle shaking of french-fries and asparagus had worn the non-stick coating off. Why is this a big deal? Because it means we ate it!
Well, what's wrong with that? Derived from highly toxic chemicals, non-stick coatings cause harm, not in acute stages, but over the life of a pan, more so using multiple pans. Possibly in dangerous amounts, if your entire set of cookware is non-stick. These chemicals are not supposed to come released from cookware under 570 degrees. My air-fryer unit only was said to reach 400 degrees, so I assumed it was safe. Clearly, I was wrong! ...and who has never overheated a non-stick pan on the stove? Once overheated, the coating is compromised and degrades.
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylates (AEPO), and Graphene and Thermolon (used on ceramic cookware) have known health risks. NMP is now being labeled as safe because it is excreted through urine, but not enough tests document human toxicity, only the expulsion rate. N-ethyl-2-pyrrolidone (NEP), a chemical Ozeri claims is a toxic coating used in competitor pan manufacturing, but I could find no record of such a non-stick coating on the Internet. It is a chemical used in printing (perhaps on the handles of some pans).
Non-stick coatings could be causing you to gain weight instead of losing weight. Your low-fat foods that pick up these chemicals interfere with your metabolic rate, slowing the burning of calories, likely by altering gut bacteria. These same chemicals have been found in high amounts in children with behavior and conduct problems (ADHD).