Get the most from your oven

If you are like me, there is no room in your kitchen for another countertop appliance. While air fryers, Instant Pots, food dehydrators, and other devices have benefits, they demand too much space in my small kitchen to be practical. Despite this limitation, I do not feel bereft when I read all of the ‘air fryer’ recipes because I have a convection oven, which is essentially what an air fryer is. The Guardian’s Ann Ding agrees, and provides several everyday oven ‘hacks’ that will make your appliance more versatile.

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You can use your oven to do a variety of things besides baking cakes or making roasts. Most modern ovens will retain heat well enough to allow you to make yogurt and dehydrate food. Ding provides tips on how to set up your oven to accomplish these tasks. Some ovens even have a “proofing” mode that maintains the oven at a very low heat so you don’t need to fiddle much with the controls.

An important benefit touted by air fryer makers is that it’s perfect for reheating fried foods while maintaining their crunch. You don’t need an air fryer to do that because as noted above (and confirmed by home economics expert Fiona Mair) “if you’ve got a fan-forced oven, you’ve got an air fryer”. Larger ovens might take a bit more time to preheat, but often you do not need to bother with that step so the time savings are not significant. Plus you don’t need to devote a couple of square feet to an extra appliance.

One of the ‘hacks’ is really just a diagnostic tool for your broiler (grill) – mapping the hot spots. Place sliced bread on the largest sheet pan that will fit in your oven, filling the pan from edge to edge with bread. Put the pan under the broiler/grill for a few minutes until the bread starts getting dark. Most ovens will not provide perfectly even heat, so by doing this you will know where the hot spots are and can arrange food accordingly for more even cooking.

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  • Pamsy  on  June 23, 2023

    I bought my air fryer last summer during a heatwave. My conventional Bosch oven makes the kitchen too hot and the fan runs for 40 minutes after being switched off! Whereas, the AF takes a few minutes to preheat and cool down. In the hot weather it’s a winner.

  • averythingcooks  on  July 3, 2023

    We are in the midst of heat/humidity/severe thunderstorm warning days and I have used the air fryer the last 2 nights for dinner. I echo Pamsy re: the benefits of the super short preheat, fast cook time and fast cool down time. I know not everyone has the space, money or desire to have one but for us, it was money well spent and worth the storage space I carved out for it in our pretty small, “no appliances live on the countertop” home.

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