Recent trends are leading towards air frying methods, rather than traditional deep frying. This provides numerous benefits that cater to health-conscious consumers, as well as different cost-saving benefits that deep frying doesn’t have.
Air frying is a dry cooking method much like roasting, baking, grilling, and frying. Just like traditional deep frying, the air frying process revolves around the inherent moisture in foods. However, the main difference is instead of submersing food in expensive cooking oil, hot air paired with the right ingredients enables you to achieve crispy, golden brown delicious food that your customers enjoy.
How does air frying work?
There are three cooking periods with air frying to get a crispy brown, golden delicious product. What happens in each stage dictates the temperature at which to cook the product and the settings it needs:
- Settling period: This step starts with a sudden expulsion of steam at 212˚F from the product, which is caused when the water releasing from the product comes in contact with oil. In air frying, we use oil is as an ingredient rather than a cooking medium. Hot air at high velocity causes the same reaction. This steam then surrounds the food and wicking it away becomes the first stage in air frying.
- Constant rate period: Next is where the “cooking zone” begins taking place. The steam surrounding the food dictates how hot the food will be. The water vapor repels the oil and keeps it from penetrating beyond the surface of the product. The steam insulates the surface, buying time for flavors to develop and for the heat to make its way to the center of the food without burning around the edges. In air frying, utilizing independent air speed and temperature become key.
- Falling rate period: The final step is what is perceived as “frying.” The “cooking zone” from the previous step now moves internally in the food product. As a result, the exterior is exposed to the oil or hot air. Now you receive that golden brown and delicious food item you were looking for. Here, the addition of oil as an ingredient becomes key. Producing the crispness in conjunction with hot air and the flavor we all love.
How to Adapt Food Products to Air Frying
- Cook Time – Here you will need to increase the time to cook your food product and allow water to evaporate throughout the cook. A temperature range of 400-450˚F should be the target.
- Air Flow – This is where you will increase air flow to allow water to evaporate and crisp the product. You can achieve a crispier product through elevation with racks, airflow with perforated pans, and the right fan speed. The air will wick the moisture away from the food product and speed up the second stage of air frying. Alto-Shaam offers racks and pans as accessories for air frying products to perfection.
- Add Oil – Rather than using oil as a cooking medium, air frying uses oil as an ingredient. The product must have oil, as it adds an insulating factor to the product and smooths it out. Here are the actual fat contents to commonly fried foods:
- Chicken 15-47%
- French Fries 20-33%
- Fish 15-28%
- Onion Rings 20-30%
- Potato Chips 28-44%
- Donuts 25-35%
Expand Menu Offerings
Although not all products will work in an air fried food program, some are better than others. Alto-Shaam’s team of culinary experts will help support you with menu development and testing different cooking methods to perfect each item. For a perfectly crispy, golden-brown product, liquid battering foods is not recommended; however, perfect products for air frying are:
- Par fried, oven-able, or “air fryer ready” products: Some pre-made products on the market today take the step out of hand breading items yourself, saving time and labor. These include tater tots, hashbrowns, corn dogs, and beer-battered cod fillets.
- Hand breaded items: Use oil, water, and breading methods with ingredients such as cornmeal, breadcrumbs, flour, and seasoning. This gives the starch in food something to grab onto. Adding a pre-dust to products also adds a layer of seasoning and flavor. With the right settings, products and procedures this can be a great solution.
Limitations and Considerations
- Longer cooking times. Air frying can often take longer than deep frying, due to how long it takes to move through the three phases of cooking. Luckily, with a Vector® or Converge® Multi-Cook Oven, the speed of cook is matched with an increased throughput thanks to the multiple, independent chamber design. Foodservice operators can turn just as much, if not more, product than a deep fryer with the ability to cook up to four batches of air fried food simultaneously in up to four independent ovens in one – all without flavor transfer between items!
- Proper holding. With multi-cook ovens, air frying food programs are successful with a focus on batch cooking. An essential component to batch cooking is the gentle, radiant holding equipment to increase efficiency and food quality right up until service. Alto-Shaam’s range of heated holding solutions include Halo Heat® to ensure crispy, golden brown fried foods stay at the exact same quality for hours. These units are less harsh than other methods of holding, as they operate with a radiant and precise thermal cable as opposed to added humidity, fans or calrods.
- Consistent Outcomes. With recipe programmability on the ovens, menu development is the key to finding the best settings and ingredients for an air fried food program. Alto-Shaam’s multi-cook ovens feature precise programmability and ChefLinc™ remote oven management, making menu development simple and easy in the early stages of setting up your program. Once the recipe is locked in, all employees need to do is load the oven with your product, select the recipe and walk away. Alto-Shaam has a full team of culinary experts and culinary partners to help you achieve the best crispy, golden brown and delicious air fried food!
Beyond an air fryer
Alto-Shaam multi-cook ovens are versatile and perform the work of multiple kitchen appliances in a single unit—allowing you to achieve more than just air frying. Transform your foodservice program and save money with a single piece of equipment that expands your menu and exceeds customer expectations. Many Alto-Shaam products are ideal for limited spaces through different size options and stackable combinations, with some options eliminating the need for an exhaust hood.
Reach out to one of our culinary experts or check out Alto-Shaam’s other commercial kitchen offerings to see how you can optimize your kitchen operations and deliver top of the line food operations.