12/25/05 — Experts say frying turkey is dangerous

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Experts say frying turkey is dangerous

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 25, 2005 2:05 AM

KENANSVILLE -- Frying that Christmas turkey can mean a delicious meal but the technique is dangerous, experts say, and cooks need to use caution.

Turkey frying has become a popular way to prepare the holiday bird in recent years but if you choose to cook it that way you are literally playing with fire, Duplin County extension agent Trudy Smith said.

Manufacturers have made some improvements to the fryers on the market. Newer models are heavier, with sturdier bases and aren't as likely to tip over. And most now have thermostats to prevent overheating. But they still present a danger, Ms. Smith said.

"The primary problem that causes injury is the splashing of hot oil," she said. "They are safer, but not completely safe."

Underwriters Laboratories still won't give its approval to any turkey fryer on the market, Ms. Smith pointed out.

The optimal temperature for frying a turkey is 340 degrees, and different oils have different levels at which they ignite. Ms. Smith said peanut oil has a lower flash point, and that is the kind most cooks use.

Authorities say most fires from frying turkeys occur while the oil is being heated, Ms. Smith said. She suggested having these items on hand to avoid problems.

*Heavy, fire-proof gloves or oven mitts.

*Heavy footwear. Flip-flops are definitely out.

*Long sleeves and pants.

*No synthetic clothing. Synthetics will melt if hot oil spills on them.

*Long, heavy duty stainless steel tongs, spoons, etc.

*Something heavy-duty with which to lift the bird out of the fryer.

*A meat thermometer.

*An adjustable wrench. Ms. Smith said this will allow you to turn off the fuel at the tank if necessary. For example, if the oil in the fryer starts to smoke, turn it off at the gas supply.

*A fire extinguisher.

If a fire breaks out, call 911 immediately, she said.

Before being placed in the fryer, the bird should be completely thawed and wiped dry. When water touches hot oil it will pop.

Most fryers are made to use outdoors. Never not use an outdoor fryer indoors.

Keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on. Keep the fryer away from walls, furniture and fences. Never use the fryer on a wooden deck, on a windy day or under a tree. Leave at least two feet between the propane tank and the burner. And keep children and pets away from the cooking area.