Each year during the holidays we look forward to that perfectly prepared turkey waiting on the dinner table, like so many magazines and television commercials portray. Unfortunately, since most of us do not have the cooking talents, that dream is not always a reality. That is why so many people are turning to deep frying their turkeys. With a turkey fryer, what used to take several hours with no guarantees now takes only 45-60 minutes with the assurance of a plump, moist bird every time. But the question is: Are we willing to trade our safety for time and taste?
Every year, deep fat fryers are responsible for approximately 1,000 fires, resulting in five deaths and 60 injuries. As this trend increases, the statistics are likely to become worse–possibly leading to more loss of life. Because of the risks attributed to turkey fryers, Underwriters Laboratories will not certify any fryer with their trusted UL mark and other safety organizations warn against the use of unauthorized certifications from their laboratories as well. The Cartersville Fire Department would like to offer the following turkey cooking and safety tips:
Deep Fried Turkey Cooking Tips:
- Follow your fryer’s instructions. A good general rule is 3 to 4 minutes per pound at 350 degrees.
- Only deep fry smaller turkeys—up to 12 pounds.
- Use oils with high smoke points such as peanut, canola and safflower. Peanut oil adds flavor, but it can be a concern if guests have peanut allergies.
- To determine how much oil you’ll need, put the turkey in the basket and place in the pot. Add water until it reaches one to two inches above the turkey. Lift the turkey out, and use a ruler to measure the distance from the water to the top of the fryer. Pour out the water and dry the fryer completely.
- Remember that it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to heat the oil, depending on the outside temp. wind and weather.
- Before frying, pat the turkey dry with paper towels to keep the hot oil from spattering and popping.
- Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other material that can burn.
- Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages!
- Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
- Never leave the fryer unattended! Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you don’t watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
- Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. Even after use, never allow children or pets near the turkey fryer. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot, hours after use.
- To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
- Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
- Turn off the burner before introducing the turkey into the oil
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix, and water causes oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
- The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird thawed in the refrigerator.
- Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Remember to use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire. If the fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call 9-1-1 for help.
- Even after use, never allow children or pets near the turkey fryer. The oil inside the cooking pots remains dangerously hot, hours after use.
For more information on how you can help protect yourself and your family from fire go to http://www.usfa.fema.gov or call the Cartersville Fire Prevention Division at (770) 387-5635 Monday through Friday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.