Should you leave your Actifry™ unattended during operation, or not?
Of course the safe “lawyer’s” answer for every appliance is “no”, but I want to examine the actual real-life aspects of the question.
I was brought up to never leave any kitchen appliances unattended. My mother wouldn’t even go out and leave the oven on. And she was always returning to the house just after leaving to make sure that she had indeed switched a kettle or clothes iron off, so yes, my instinct is to be cautious because of how I was brought up.
I think now, though, in my mind I do risk assessment. I might go out for a short while and leave the oven on, if in it were a long cooking item such as a pot roast and the oven were on low, because my stove’s oven is a fully insulated device. But that’s probably about the only thing, and I’m not saying anyone else should.
Otherwise, my leeriness was compounded a few years ago when the house of a friend’s aunt in England burnt down, in a fire caused by a stuck paddle in a bread machine. (I always stay in ear shot of my bread machine, because I can tell by the paddle noises if the flour is dry and needs a bit more water, etc.)
T-Fal itself looks like it’s of two minds when it comes to the Actifry.
Here’s a 2009 press release for T-Fal Canada, by Noel Gallegos, which says that you can leave an Actifry unattended:
However, here’s a screen capture excerpt from the UK manual for the Actifry classic / standard, which disagrees and says no:
I’m going to try to square the circle here by saying they could both be considered right.
I would say you do not need to and should not stand at the machine and watch it every second, as we all do the first few times we use it simply because we are fascinated and stand there like idiots staring at it; we all do!
I would say, you are wasting your time in doing so, because you ain’t missing anything, you know what’s going to happen: the food is going to get stirred and the food is going to get cooked. The story ends up the same every time. Get on with other things: peeling some veggies to go with what you’re cooking in the Actifry, empty the dishwasher, answer email on a laptop at the kitchen table, or any other chores that need doing within smell and hearing range of the Actifry so that if anything goes wrong you are immediately aware of the issue and can be on it in a microsecond.
Do not, however, go out back to do a half-hour of gardening or go to the other end of the house where you won’t know there is a problem until it is too late.
I would say that while you don’t need to see what is going on inside your Actifry (though a good cook should check up on what s/he is cooking in it at least once to adjust seasoning, etc), that you do need to be able to hear and smell what is going on, and that means staying within a range that enables you to do so, and that will depend greatly upon the layout and size of your home.
So you can leave it unattended in the sense that you get on with other things while it’s doing its thing, but you can’t leave it unattended in the full, true sense of that meaning because it is an appliance, switched on, and and all small kitchen appliances in operation always need a human being to watch over them. You should, like a parent, always be keeping an eye on it through the eyes in the back of your head!
I have been grateful more than once for the training / instinct I got from my Mum, because I have had chunks of potato get stuck in the Actifry and cause the machine to start grinding, and I dread to think that if I hadn’t been near enough to leap on the problem right away, that I might have been facing an expensive burned out motor, or worse.
So, get on with other things, but stay within ear and nose shot of your machine when it’s on!
T-Fal Canada excerpt retrieved August 2014 from: http://www.nutritious-delicious.ca/nutritiousdelicious/en/pdf/2009_ActifryE_pressrelease.pdf
* Actifry™ and T-Fal are registered trademarks of SEB, France.