Hardware and Design
The Philips Viva Collection Airfryer is a small household appliance made primarily of plastic. It ‘s circular design takes up minimal counter space – more than a two slice toaster but less than a microwave – and adds visual interest. The polished, black exterior shines and wipes clean easily. The Viva Collection Airfryer features Philips’ new universal removable handle which allows you to easily mix and match the right cooking accessory. Two accessories, the removable mesh bottom and grill pan, come inside the box. The attachments as well as the removable drawer have a non-stick coating that makes cleaning a breeze. Although the parts are dishwasher safe, I always clean them by hand with hot, soapy water and it’s quick and easy.
For this device to be such a technological wonder, it’s input controls are very basic; two rotary buttons, one to set the temperature and another to set the timer. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. There is a model with digital input controls and an LED screen. I’m spying that one for when it’s time to upgrade. There’s a brief cooking guide printed on the top of the device which I love. It enables me to review cooking details for six of the most popular dishes at a glance. And, when the device is not in use, it can be easily stowed away in a cabinet or on a kitchen shelf. There’s also a built-in solution to wrap the cord and tuck it away.
Technology: How it Works
The Viva Collection Airfryer works based on patented Philips TurboStar rapid air technology which swirls hot air rapidly in the top upper compartment of the device then through the cooking basket. This process distributes heat more evenly therefore creating more evenly cooked food. I didn’t have to turn or toss the food as it cooked. It’s basically a set it and forgot type of appliance. According to Philips, the powerful, direct heat from above quickly crisps the food well. In addition to the technology within the device, there’s a companion app available. It contains useful information about the device and a ton of recipes. The app is available for Android and iOS devices.
It’s not hard to assemble the parts for use – unless you read the directions. There are two leaflets of information included that convey safety info in several different languages. The literature also includes what I like to call, “IKEA-style directions”. You know… a series of black and white printed photos crowded by a cloud of confusing arrows and NO WORDS? Yeah, that. Once I set the directions aside and actually looked at the pieces, figuring out how to connect and detach them was easy. I truly appreciate that the appliance doesn’t need any warm up time. Once you’ve prepped your food, you’re ready to cook.
The airfryer sat on the floor of my kitchen for a couple of months before I actually used it. I think having to set it up, read directions and capture my first experience with it was a little off-putting, but alas, I was ready to use it. The plan was to make something relatively simple that I could easily compare other preparation methods for so I decided on fries. Simple, right? Nope. Wrong. When I read the directions in the recipe booklet that’s included in the box, I learned that for best results, homemade fries need to soak in water for at least 30 minutes. Then they need to dry for a substantial amount of time too if the desired outcome is crispy fries. So, I did what any wife and mother of two young kids with about 40 minutes to prepare dinner would do. I put the fryer back in the box and let it sit in the corner of my kitchen for another couple of weeks until I had time to soak and dry potatoes before dinner. This could’ve been a deal breaker but the promise of healthier food for my family prevailed and I gave it another shot.
The first time I let the potatoes soak for 30 minutes and then let them lay on paper towels to dry for about 40 additional minutes. That’s an hour and ten minutes of prep time total. I let them dry so long primarily because I wanted to set perfect conditions to test how well this appliance would cook. I tossed slices of a small potato in about a teaspoon of olive oil. The recipe book called for half a teaspoon of oil but noted that you should use a little more for crisper fries. I set the timer for 24 minutes and waited for the outcome. The first thing I noticed was that the air quality in my home wasn’t compromised. Normally, the aroma of oil and fried foods pervade every porous thing in the house and I really despise that. The airfryer however contained all of the air and consequently the aroma inside the device. It does have a mild hum when cooking (likely from the fast, swirling air) but nothing unbearable or disruptive.
When the timer was up, I pressed the handle on the drawer and slid it out with the anticipation of a little kid. I was almost afraid to look into the basket. The moment the drawer opened, the aroma of freshly fried potatoes consumed me. I looked inside to find perfectly cooked home fries that were evenly fried, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. I sprinkled sea salt on them and had a little taste test. They were delicious! And, every member of my family agreed. I was sold – right then and there. The only downside is the prep time required for cooking good fries. I’ve perfected my process and gotten the time down a bit. Soaking and drying for 20 minutes each (total prep time 40 minutes) seems to be the sweet spot to churn out fries the way I like them.
Chicken on the other hand does not require additional prep time nor do you have to use oil! I still drizzled a little over mine for taste and crispness. I’ve cooked both boneless, skinless breasts and legs. I was able to get about 4 pieces in the basket for each cycle. Everything I read says that food can be stacked but I haven’t tried cooking with layered food yet. Cooking only one layer of food in the compact device makes it hard to churn out enough food for a family of four in a timely manner, so I usually do either my sides or the main in the airfryer; not both. But just like the fries, the chicken was absolutely delicious. It was tender and juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
I grilled an assortment of mixed veggies using the airfryer and it came out reasonably well. It was a mix of zucchini, onion, red bell pepper and broccoli drizzled with coconut oil. Veggies can be a bit tricky. You want to choose a good mix of things that will cook well in the airfryer’ system. Carrots are not recommended and broccoli wasn’t the best choice either. It was the only ingredient that didn’t cook well.
Philips claims that the Viva Collection Airfryer is a low-fat fryer that produces healthier food. For example, they boast that the airfryer can produce fries with 80% less fat than traditional frying methods and I believe them. Prior to using the airfryer, I would deep fry potatoes in an insane amount of oil. Reducing that to just a teaspoonful truly changes the composition of the food. Best of all, the food still tastes good.
The Viva Collection Airfryer is in my home to stay. It has become a staple in my kitchen and I don’t see that changing. I can’t wait to try more recipes and create some of my own.