While roasted turkey is the more traditional preparation for Thanksgiving, turkey frying is becoming increasingly popular for its ability to produce a juicy and tasty bird!
Unfortunately, this cooking method is not without risk, accounting for a significant number of home fires and injuries every year. Here, we would like to discuss steps you can take to ensure you have a safe holiday!
What you'll need:
• Goggles and Hand Protection:
Keep in mind that even an experienced turkey fryer can experience oil overheating or splash back. Always wear appropriate hand and eye protection and stand a comfortable distance away from the fryer when adding or removing the turkey.
• Fire Extinguisher:
Your Fire Extinguisher should be kept outside near the turkey fryer in the event of fire. Ensure that your fire extinguisher is rated for oil fires (Class B), is fully charged, and you know how to use it.
Where to place the turkey fryer:
• Turkey Fryers should ONLY be used outside:
This may seem odd, but this does happen. Turkey Fryer's, like grills, should only be used outside.
• Find a place away from structures:
When selecting the perfect place for your turkey fryer, you should keep in mind that you want this to be away from structures such as sheds, fences, etc., and out from under eaves, porch roofs, or overhanging tree branches, or on wooden decks. Piles of leaves or other highly combustible materials should be well away from the location of your turkey fryer as well. Essentially, you want to eliminate any potential ignition opportunities in the event of a flare up.
• Your turkey fryer should be placed on a flat, level surface:
When in use, your turkey fryer holds a significant amount of scolding hot oil, making a tip or spill hazard very real. For this reason, you want to reduce any likelihood of that happening.
• The propane tank should be at least 2 feet away from the turkey fryer
How can you prepare for the big day:
• Determine the safe oil level beforehand:
An easy way to do this is by placing your turkey inside the fryer and filling it with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2" of water and remove the turkey. Mark this water level, as this will be the amount of oil you will need when it's time to fry the turkey. Drain and dry your turkey fryer completely. Some turkey fryers also have recommended oil levels based on approximate bird size, but it is recommended to double check these levels yourself.
• Start with a dry, completely thawed bird:
Water can cause the hot oil to bubble up and spill over, making it incredibly important to start with a completely thawed turkey (The USDA recommends thawing a turkey for 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds). Once thawed, pat down the turkey completely to remove any surface moisture that may still be present.
• Do I marinade the turkey?:
Be careful of marinades as some contain water (Which you definitely don't want). When selecting your marinade, ensure that water is not an ingredient to ensure safe frying.
• Keep the turkey fryer in FULL View while the burner is on:
Much like a grill, a turkey fryer should be watched at all times while it is in use.
• Keep children and pets away from the fryer:
• Raise and lower food slowly to reduce splatter and avoid burns:
While splatter is more likely when lowering food into the turkey fryer, this can happen at any time and can result in severe burns. Don't forget your safety equipment!
• Check the oil temperature frequently:
The oil temperature may increase during the cooking time. By checking regularly, you can adjust the temperature before the oil gets overheated.
• Allow the oil to cool completely:
Keep in mind that the oil can remain hot for several hours after use.
• If a fire does start, never use water to put it out:
Oil and water do not mix. Use a fire extinguisher rated for oil fires (Class B).
• The oil begins to smoke:
If any smoke whatsoever is coming from the oil, it is overheated and should be turned down immediately. Overheated oil can ignite and represents a significant fire risk.
We hope that you and your family have a happy and safe Thanksgiving Holiday!
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Photo by Isaac Wedin.