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The air fryer first debuted in 2010 for the fry-loving, small-kitchen-having European market. Its popularity continued to expand even into Christmas as they were popular holiday gifts. Let's explore what they are and how they work. Although we are told they are good for "fried" foods. They also have other uses.

An air fryer is a technological innovation on the way we cook and prepare foods in the kitchen. It is a machine that is said to fry delicious dishes without having to use cooking oil.

It works by cooking your food using super-heated air that it circulates within its chamber. A fan inside the air fryer helps circulate the hot air and help the air fryer create a reaction called the Maillard Effect.

The Maillard effect, named after the French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, is chemical reaction characterized by the bonding of amino acids and reducing sugars. This chemical reaction is most notably known for how it gives browned food its unique taste and aroma.

The air fryers circulate air at high temperatures up to 400 degrees. Food comes out crispy on the outside while moist and tender on the inside. Air fryers provide a healthier alternative to conventional frying because they use very little or no oil during the cooking process. You can also grill, roast, and yes, even bake foods in it.

Air fried food has 75 percent less fat than traditional fried food, making it a healthier alternative, achieving that fried food taste without the health risks. They use less oil, electricity, and cook meals faster. As an added bonus, that fried cooking smell is reduced as well.

Food safety guidelines need to be considered when using these new appliances. Using a food thermometer is the only way to ensure safety of meat, poultry and egg products when air frying. Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, making sure not to touch bone, fat, or gristle. You should follow the recommended internal temperatures according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Here are 10 cooking tips for your air fryer. These will help you get great results from the foods you cook.

Smaller ingredients usually require a slightly shorter preparation time than larger ingredients.

For best results with smaller foods such as fries, onion rings and chicken nuggets, remove the fryer basket halfway through preparation time and shake to mix around the food in the basket. This will help to evenly fry the food being prepared.

Add some oil to fresh potatoes for a crispy result. Fry your ingredients in the air fryer within a few minutes after you added the oil. Do not fill basket with oil.

Do not prepare extremely greasy ingredients such as sausages in the air fryer.

Snacks that can be prepared in an oven can also be prepared in the air fryer.

For French fries, use 17 ounces of fries at a time for best frying results.

This air fryer is great for reheating food. To reheat your food, set the temperature control to 300 degrees and reheat to 165 degrees.

Overfilling the fryer basket will interfere with the browning process and foods will not cook evenly or reach the proper temperature.

Don't be afraid to open the basket to check the progress of your food.

Mix fine ingredients, such as salt and spices, in with oil to keep them from getting blown on the wall of the air fryer. Or add them after you spray oil on the food and before it gets absorbed.

Try this air fryer recipe from The Easy Air Fryer Cookbook. If you don't have an air fryer, you can cook in the oven at 350 degrees. You will need to adjust the cooking time for doneness and your food thermometer reaching 165 degrees.

Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken

1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

tsp hot sauce

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (cut in half lengthwise to make 4 equal portions)

6 tbsp corn flakes

3 tbsp stone-ground cornmeal

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp paprika

tsp salt

tsp coarse-ground black pepper

nonstick cooking spray

In a small bowl, stir together buttermilk and hot sauce. Place chicken in the buttermilk mixture. Allow to stand 15 minutes.

Place the cornflakes into the bowl of a food processor. Process until coarse crumbs form. Add the cornmeal, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper and pulse until evenly mixed. Pour the crumbs into a shallow bowl. (No food processor? Crush the cornflakes in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.)

Drain the chicken, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip back into bowl. Coat the chicken pieces evenly in the cornflake mixture. Place the coated chicken pieces on a wire rack.

Place the chicken in the air fryer basket. Spray with nonstick cooking spray for 2 seconds (do not crowd the chicken; cook in batches if all the chicken doesn't fit). Set the temperature to 375F and air fry for 7 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces. Air fry for an additional 710 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest parts registers 165 degrees.

Nutrition Facts: 4 Servings, Serving Size 1 (4 oz) piece of chicken, Amount per serving: Calories 160, Total Fat 3.5g, Cholesterol 65mg, Sodium 190mg, Total Carbohydrate 7g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Protein 24g, Potassium 230mg.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609. We're online at [email protected], on Facebook and Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.

Carla Due is a county extension agent-staff chair with the Miller County Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

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