Recently, many people have adopted a healthier lifestyle, a big part of which involves healthy eating. A lot of healthy diets require reduced oil and fat content. So, whether you want to lose weight or just maintain your health while enjoying delicious food, it is a good idea to invest in a kitchen appliance that can reduce the oil content in your food.
Luckily, many companies have manufactured some helpful products you can use to cook plenty of healthy foods with as little hassle as possible. Two of those products that allow you to cook healthy but tasty food include the air fryer and the food dehydrator.
However, the following debate arises: air fryer vs dehydrator. Which of these products is more suited for your cooking needs? Read on to get to the answer and more.
What Is an Air Fryer?
An air fryer is a small countertop appliance that works like a convection oven. It is designed to mimic deep frying without actually drenching the food in oil. An air fryer does not fry your food per se, but uses the same hot air circulation method a traditional oven uses to do the cooking.
The air fryer has a heating element that produces hot air and a fan that circulates the hot air in the cooking compartment. Depending on the model, the temperatures can go as high as 482°F (250°C). Some models also have timer and temperature setting adjustments to give you more control over the cooking. Plus, it only needs minutes to heat up, cooks faster than stoves and ovens, and uses less energy.
Conventional frying methods require you to submerge food in hot oil for cooking, heated well above the boiling point of water. On the other hand, air frying requires you to coat the food in as little oil as possible, place it in the air fryer basket which sits on an oil drip tray, then allow the circulating hot air to cook the food. As a result, the air fryer is able to brown foods using much less oil than a conventional deep fryer.
What Can You Do With an Air Fryer?
Air fryers are so versatile that you can use them to prepare several types of food, from homemade snacks to a wide variety of delicious meals. A few of them include:
A standard air fryer can cook, fry, and bake proteins like lamb chops, steak, fish, chicken breast, and beef. Whether they are breaded or not, the air fryer cooks them evenly until they are juicy and tender.
You can also fry frozen foods that normally need to be deep-fried like french fries, frozen chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and tater tots. Plus, if you freeze foods after drenching them in wet batter, you can fry them in an air fryer without worrying about them dripping.
Air fryers can prepare delicious vegetables without turning them into a soggy mess. Try cooking okra, potatoes, chickpeas, mushrooms, eggplants, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peas, or green beans. With a tablespoon of oil or more, the air fryer softens the veggies but maintains a crunchy outer layer.
Everyone knows if you try to reheat leftover foods like pizza and other baked goods in a microwave, it turns into a soggy mess. If you use an air fryer, you can heat it up while also reviving the freshness.
Another great option is to use the air fryer to bake pastries such as cookies or cakes. With just a few baking accessory molds, you can also bake cakes, loaves, and muffins.
Grilling & Roasting
Some air fryer models allow you to grill and roast foods.
Pros and Cons of Using an Air Fryer
Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of using an air fryer for your healthy cooking.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Air Fryer
Because there are different models of air fryers on the market, it is in your best interest to carefully select the ones best suited for your needs. Here are some things to consider before buying an air fryer:
While some models have temperature controls that can regulate or set temperatures up to 400°C, others have a singular temperature setting. You may also prefer a model with programmable cooking functions such as a reheat button for leftovers, or preset buttons to cook certain types of food like chicken or fish.
Ease of Use
Consider how convenient it is to use the air fryer. Can everyone in your household use it without having to consult the manual every time? How easy is it to load, disassemble, and clean? You should only consider buying one that offers you relative ease.
The size of the air fryer you buy depends on the amount of food you plan to cook and your available counter space. Most air fryers can cook food for 1-2 people at once. If you are cooking for more, you should consider getting a larger model, even though it will take up more counter space. If you don't have enough space, you can always buy a smaller unit.
Some air fryers have front drawers to load food in the air fry basket, while others have a flip-top lid. The models with a front drawer are more convenient and safer to use.
What Is a Food Dehydrator?
A food dehydrator is a kitchen appliance that helps you to prepare nutritious food from the comfort of your home by removing moisture from food products without sacrificing taste and nutrients. Food dehydration makes a healthy snack of dried fruits by removing the water content in ordinary fruits. Vegans or people on a raw food diet can enjoy the many benefits of using a dehydrator.
Food dehydrating has always been a popular method of food preservation because the bacteria and other microorganisms that cause food spoilage thrive in moist foods. However, removing the moisture content of food inhibits bacteria growth, increases food shelf-life, and eliminates food waste.
A dehydrator uses warm air to remove water from food. Compared to other products that perform a similar function, the power consumption of a dehydrator is low, which is a bonus once you consider the extended periods of time required to fully dry foods. The food dehydration process takes time but the finished product is worth every minute spent.
A major benefit of using this device is that dehydrated foods maintain their nutritional value because the heat from the dehydrator is not high enough to break down important nutrients. Even the healthiest method of cooking foods (e.g., steaming) still uses temperatures high enough to break down nutrients.
There are two major types of dehydrators, depending on their airflow: horizontal and vertical.
What Can You Do With a Dehydrator?
Dehydrators have so many uses, depending on the type of food you are cooking. Some of them include:
Different types of fruits can be dehydrated at a high temperature of 135°F. A dehydrated fruit will have an intensified sweetness and flavor, and can stay on the shelf for an extended period. Plus, fruits that are not usually sweet end up with a better flavor. This is good news for people who have a sweet tooth but still want to eat healthy.
Vegetables that are sensitive to heat can be dehydrated at a lower temperature of 125°F to retain their nutrients and color. The temperature can even go as low as 95°F to accommodate herbs and other delicate types of foods. This means you can buy fresh food in bulk to be dried and stored for later.
Meat can be dehydrated to produce delicious beef jerky by dehydrating at 160°F, then at 130°F to eliminate any remaining bacteria.
You can also make dry, homemade pasta, fruit bars, granola bars, and ferment yogurt using a dehydrator.
If you have stale baked foods like cookies, a food dehydrator can reheat and restore crispness.
Some artsy people also use a dehydrator to dry molds and potpourri for DIY projects.
Pros and Cons of Using a Food Dehydrator
Now, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of using a food dehydrator:
Things to Consider Before Buying a Dehydrator
Having a good idea of what to expect with a dehydrator will help you make more informed choices on the model that best suits your needs. The following are some of the things to consider before buying a dehydrator:
Airflow and Heat Distribution
The biggest challenge of using a dehydrator is ensuring the heat is evenly distributed, which ensures uniform drying. Make sure your dehydrator has effective airflow so it can distribute heat evenly to food items further from the heat source.
Convenience and Ease of Use
A dehydrator should be easy to clean and put together once taken apart. Also, although using a food dehydrator is a relatively easy process, you could benefit a lot from a few features that allow you to dry food without having to constantly monitor the process or switch trays. Some of these features include:
Size and Capacity
The bigger the dehydrator, the larger the capacity, and the more space it takes up on your counter. Your choice depends on how much food you will be drying and how often you plan to use it. If you plan to dry a lot of food and in short intervals, then a larger-sized model will work better for you. Otherwise, get a smaller one.
Since dehydrators are equipped with a fan, you would expect them to produce some amount of noise. However, the amount of noise produced varies by model. If you want to enjoy as much quiet as you can at home, stick to higher-quality models that don’t make much noise.
Similarities: Air Fryer vs Dehydrator
Although they both serve different functions, there are still similarities between both appliances. Some air fryers can even serve the purpose of a dehydrator. Some of these similarities are:
Differences: Air Fryer vs Dehydrator
A dehydrator has several stainless steel trays where you place food to be dehydrated. Once you power it on and set the right temperature, the fan blows hot air to dry your food.
On the other hand, an air fryer uses fast-air technology to circulate hot air and heat up food that would have required a large amount of boiling grease to cook otherwise.
An air fryer cuts down conventional cooking time, allowing you to cook even faster than traditional methods. A food dehydrator may take several hours to complete the drying process.
Dehydrated foods always have a different appearance from their hydrated versions. Sometimes, due to the moisture loss, they appear duller. The reverse is the case with foods cooked in an air fryer, as they become even more vibrant in color.
Food cooked in a dehydrator can last for months without spoiling. You can effectively manage surplus food, especially when stored in a vacuum bag. However, food cooked in an air fryer is subject to the same spoilage time as regular foods.
A dehydrator has a lot of storage space to dry large amounts of food at the same time. If you want to cook large quantities of food with the air fryer, you need to complete the process in several batches.
While a dehydrator completely eliminates the moisture content of food, an air fryer maintains the same relative moisture content that the food would have had in conventional cooking styles.
As you can see, you can still eat healthy without sacrificing flavor. Modern technology has given us two kitchen appliances that make the food options for healthy living limitless. Your choice on which is better in the air fryer vs dehydrator debate depends solely on your needs. Once you have figured out what those are, you can invest in buying one of them or going all out to splurge on both!