This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.
It was a Tuesday evening, and my boyfriend and I were making veal Parmesan and crispy salmon with lemon caper sauce in my studio apartment. (Yes, both.) He manned the cast iron while I took hold of the stainless-steel skillet and we seared, together. Despite the open window and whirring range hood, smoke hung thick in the air— so much so that my upstairs neighbor knocked on our door mid-sear to lend us his Blue Pure 411 Auto air purifier.
I plugged it in and watched the light quickly turn red, signaling poor air quality. (The “auto” refers to the fan speed, which adjusts depending on real time air conditions.) By the time we cleared our plates, the light had turned blue and the Blue Pure had filtered the air in the entire apartment. We enjoyed our surf-and-turf without a cloud of smoke swirling around the ceiling, and I was pleased to find that the smell of salmon didn’t linger on my bedding the next day.
I needed one for myself. I opted for a similar model from Blueair, the Blue Pure 411. It’s as powerful as the 411 Auto, but without the auto detect feature and built for a smaller square footage—perfect for my studio. Right off the bat I appreciated the system’s minimalism. There’s just one button to control all three fan speeds, and its appearance is sleek. This Blueair air purifier has a machine washable cover to keep large particles out of the main HEPASilent filter, which catches all the good stuff (well, bad stuff, I should say). When I’m cooking, say, crispy chicken thighs, charred cabbage, or one of my go-to pan-fried fish recipes, I click the button three times, setting it to high speed. The best part? It circulates the air almost silently, so I can still hear my playlist or take part in conversation as food sears and sizzles on the stovetop.
I snagged a Blueair air purifier with one primary goal: to allow me to cook freely without setting off the fire alarm or smoking out my neighbors. But the secondary benefits are numerous. While the inner layer of activated carbon specifically tackles odors and smoke, for everyday use I keep it on low to take care of the usual impurities in the air like mold, dust, bacteria and viruses, pollen, and pet dander. Knowing that it can help filter out airborne viruses (COVID-19, too) has certainly provided added peace of mind when having friends over. Plus, as an allergy prone city sweller, I can’t help but notice how it’s aided my all too frequent sneeze attacks. But the biggest selling point for me will always be that this air purifier has allowed me to achieve the perfect crispy salmon skin without frantically fanning a kitchen towel under my smoke alarm.