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This Is What Happens When You Deep Fry a Frozen Turkey 164

Posted by timothy
from the arson-excuse-maker dept.
Too late for many east-coast Americans, but perhaps in time to stop a blaze or two in California, an anonymous reader writes with this video of "a controlled demonstration of why it is a bad idea to fry a frozen turkey." My brother this morning assembled (despite poor directions and questionable parts fit) a deep fryer for a Thanksgiving turkey; we're optimistic, and the turkey seems to be fully thawed at least.
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This Is What Happens When You Deep Fry a Frozen Turkey

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  • Why so full? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 22, 2012 @01:41PM (#42067065)

    Every video of the turkey being put in results in an overflow of displaced oil which catches fire.

    The water will 'boil' due the very high oil temp.. but most of these videos seem to fail at 'use the proper amount of oil'.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      throw an ice cube in any amount of hot oil and you will quickly see how much that shit jumps and bubbles up

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rtfa-troll (1340807)

        throw an ice cube in any amount of hot oil and you will quickly see how much that shit jumps and bubbles up

        This is nothing special. If you can get a decent quantity of water under a pan of ignited oil (just pouring it on top works - remember water denser than oil) then you can get a pretty good fireball. I've seen it done with a few tens of grams of oil and a decent water-pistol - that was enough (in the sort of "don't do this at home kids" sort of sense of enough).

        What I'm really curious about is whether this would happen with a normal dry cleaned turkey straightforwardly frozen or if it's extra water added

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          That's kind of what I was thinking. Why would a frozen turkey contain any more water than a thawed turkey. I had no idea that they put extra water in the frozen ones to jack up the price. Of course, we only buy fresh, (never frozen) turkeys for thanksgiving, and for almost all our meat.
          • I would guess the biggest difference is the reaction of the tissue to heat - normal meat will just cook, but frozen might crack, which suddenly increases the surface area tremendously, leading to a huge release of steam.

            Of course, they also committed a massive safety fail by not turning the burner off while lowering the turkey in, so it's really hard to judge.
            • by rtb61 (674572)

              Obviously you don't do much cooking. Frozen products are often covered with a layer of ice from a couple of sources. Major source, warm bird as it is getting frozen, the freezer is a very dry environment drawing moisture from inside the warm meat to the surface where it freezes. Next the movement from the freezer to the fryer takes time and frozen meat will condense moisture from the atmosphere and freeze on it's surface. So upon first insertion you have free water to react with the oil. Specifically water

          • That's kind of what I was thinking. Why would a frozen turkey contain any more water than a thawed turkey. I had no idea that they put extra water in the frozen ones to jack up the price. Of course, we only buy fresh, (never frozen) turkeys for thanksgiving, and for almost all our meat.

            Okay, so I got curious after this. Given that we are talking about thanksgiving turkeys, so the US, I found the USDA explanation [usda.gov]. Summary. No actual water injection. Apparently no glazing like seafood [seafish.org]. However 12% or so "retained water" or "absorbed water" should be declared on the label and things like "up to 10% of a Solution" may be used to help with flavour. The poultry its self likely has more than 65% water, but I guess that is normally more bound up with the meat, since it doesn't cause a prob

        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday November 22, 2012 @03:26PM (#42067867) Homepage

          "Normal" and "dry cleaned turkey" don't logically fit, at least in my universe. In fact, I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around a dry cleaned turkey.

          Please don't invite me over to your house next Thanksgiving. Nothing personal.

        • For the ManPro - Manufacturing Processes - class at GMI (Before it became Kettering) we did green sand casting. Had to pour the molten aluminum in and were warned entering the room if you so much as sneeze, spit, sweat, etc in the vicinity of the aluminum you will get hurt, badly. That was a fun class!
      • by meldroc (21783) <`meldroc' `at' `frii.com'> on Thursday November 22, 2012 @03:00PM (#42067679) Homepage Journal

        My very first job, I worked at an A&W, and they put me to work at the deep fryer. The procedure there (OSHA would not approve) was to take a big bag of fries out of the freezer, cook some of them, put the fries back in the freezer, and repeat for a few iterations. They freeze-thaw cycles would cause the fries to get covered with ice crystals.

        One particularly frantic dinner rush, I was scrambling to get fries out, and I jammed a whole bunch of ice-covered fries in the deep fryer. Of course, the crystals flashed to steam, and splashed my arm with napalm-hot frying oil. I still have the scars.

        • When I was a kid a family friend threw a large pan of water onto a fat fire in his kitchen, he spent the next couple of months in hospital.
        • by Sir Holo (531007)
          In my very first job, we pre-melted the deep-fry oil in the back, and carried it into the kitchen in a pot held by tongs and wet towels. I went off to college, but returned for breaks. Once, upon return, I found a horrifically scarred African-immigrant cook, who had dropped the pot, resulting in a splash-from-hell to the face and hands.

          I probably deserve to have my own scars from throwing ice cubes into smoking-hot pots of oil, but had the sense to stand back, so no scars from that (knives are another m
    • Re:Why so full? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday November 22, 2012 @02:12PM (#42067297) Journal

      This one failed at "use the proper amount of 'film in the camera'". Why was it cut off while it was still interesting? So lame... There needs to be legal penalties for posting bad videos.

    • by mark-t (151149)
      Actually, the chief problem seems to be that people are trying to do this with a deep fryer whose volume is not significantly more than that of the turkey they are trying to cook. Even if the oil level were initially at the lowest level possible such that once the turkey is in, the oil will fully cover the turkey, the top of the oil is still going to be too close to the top of the fryer to be safe. For the size of turkey they were trying to cook, they should have used a fryer with at least 50% taller,
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Actually, the chief problem seems to be that people are trying to do this with a deep fryer whose volume is not significantly more than that of the turkey they are trying to cook. Even if the oil level were initially at the lowest level possible such that once the turkey is in, the oil will fully cover the turkey, the top of the oil is still going to be too close to the top of the fryer to be safe. For the size of turkey they were trying to cook, they should have used a fryer with at least 50% taller, and i

        • by mark-t (151149)

          I'll agree that it's probably not worth getting a larger one for most people... I was only pointing out what appeared to be the general problem with the ones shown in those videos.

          Now that said, what I might suggest people who are going to try this do is do a test run by putting the bird into a clean and completely empty deep fryer first to see how it fits... before putting heating it, and before putting any oil in, then fill the fryer with water such that the bird is covered as you would expect it to be

          • by PPH (736903)
            And don't do any of this in the garage, carport, under eaves or on a wood (flammable) deck. I'd shield the propane line and use one long enough to be able to reach the tank valve even with the fryer fully engulfed in flames.
            • by mark-t (151149)
              If the oil level is high enough that there is a serious spill risk after the turkey is in, then the turkey is too big for the fryer. Deep frying should not be a dangerous experience other than the increased health risks that might come with eating certain deep fried foods. The cooking itself should be no less safe than cooking anything else.
        • Plus you'll need 30 gallons of oil to put in your one-time-use 55 gallon deep fryer and a much, much bigger heat source.
  • finally (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Now how do i sneak this on a plane?

    • In a snake?
    • The TSA wants to have a word with you.

    • Just strap the turkey to your stomach, it'll just look like you have a horribly misshapen belly on the nudie scanner. Then bring the oil in a large number of tiny containers. If you need a larger container, simply buy a large bottle of soda in a store in the airport terminal. For heat, use any AC-powered device like a Prescott-powered laptop, planes generally have a power socket in the seatback now.

    • I got kicked off an airplane for bringing my own food. My argument was that the food prices on the airplane were outrageous. Besides, I haven't had deep fried turkey in years.

      With Apologies to Steven Wright [evula.com].

  • Maybe it's just me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198)
    I can't help thinking that the average Slashdot reader has already watched every episode of Good Eats and knows not to do this already.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I can't help thinking that the average Slashdot reader has already watched every episode of Good Eats and knows not to do this already.

      From what I've seen over the years ... such demonstrations don't serve to dissuade Slashdotters from doing something. It's more of a starting point for something to try at home. :-P

    • by alanw (1822)

      I can't help thinking that the average Slashdot reader has already watched every episode of Good Eats and knows not to do this already.

      Insert "North American" between "average" and "Slashdot".

      However do I remember this video made by Underwriters Laboratories [ul.com] from many years ago.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbLqFQQdvoY [youtube.com]

    • I can't help thinking that the average Slashdot reader has already watched every episode of Good Eats and knows not to do this already.

      And if you haven't, that'd be S10E12 - Fry Turkey Fry [youtube.com]. Enjoy your next 21 minutes, or read the transcript [goodeatsfanpage.com].

      (For anyone just looking for the big fireball, it's at 10:32 [youtube.com])

  • Does it not make sense to put in the raw turkey while filling with oil to get the volume right?
    • The problem isn't the right volume of oil to submerge the bird, they had that right in the video as you don't see oil slopping over the side of the pot as the bird goes in. What happens is the hot oil melts and boils the ice around the bird and the steam explosion throws the oil over the edge of the pot.

      Now, a very tall pot, say 2m, might contain that oil.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        If they turned off the flame before lowering the bird in the overflowing/flying oil won't catch on fire either.

        But the flying hot oil can still blind, permanently disfigure and maim people.

        My guess is chunks of ice can end up creating bigger expanding bubbles of steam than water for the same amount of water, since the ice = more water stuck together. And bigger expanding bubbles = more flying oil. But either way too much water in oil is not a good idea.
        • Aerosolised oil might ignite merely with the heat, same way a diesel engine ignites without a spark, so it may not help.

          There might also be more water present in a frozen bird. I know when I thaw a chicken, there is a lot of water sitting on the plate afterwards, so thawing the bird lets that water drain and not be dumped in the oil as it is boiled off.

          • A diesel engine ignites without a spark from the heat generated by compression. Aerosolised oil will rapidly drop in temperature. Cooking oil won't combust without an ignition source unless it is over 350C.
          • by c0lo (1497653)

            Aerosolised oil might ignite merely with the heat, same way a diesel engine ignites without a spark, so it may not help.

            It will happen if you adiabatically increase the atmospheric pressure around the pot at a compression ratio over 14:1 [wikipedia.org] or you use fuels [wikipedia.org] to deep fry the bird or just slowly raise the temperature of the pot to the point of it glowing-red

            Cooking oil
            * flash point (emits fumes capable of ignition by an external source): over 200C
            * autoignition point (no open flame present): over 400C [goo.gl] - iron glows deep red, visible in the dark [hearth.com].

        • by isilrion (814117)

          ice = more water stuck together

          FYI, ice is less dense than water. That's why it floats.

          • That's not the point he was making, what he is actually talking about is surface area vs volume. A block of ice does not disperse when it hits the oil, it sinks toward the bottom as a block, liquid water disperses quickly and may not get a chance to sink as deep as ice. GP speculates this may result in larger bubbles with ice.
            • by isilrion (814117)
              Ah, "stuck together" was the important part. I missed that. Thank you for the clarification.
        • by PPH (736903)

          Ice isn't more water stuck together. Ice actually has a lower specific gravity than water (ice floats).

          I think the biggest problem is that the heat of fusion (the amount of heat needed to melt the ice) actually gives it an opportunity to melt and then boil a bit slower. And that gives the ice more time to sink below the oil. Once it melts and then boils (at the bottom of the pot) it displaces a larger column of oil above it. Once that oil makes it out of the pot, it either hits you in the face (burns) or s

  • by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Thursday November 22, 2012 @01:45PM (#42067103) Homepage

    Stuffing a non-frozen turkey in a frier that fast will lead to bad things, remember dip it in slowly so any excess water in the turkey boils off without turning the entire thing in to a conflagration.

    Oh yea, never fry in your garage, on a wooden porch, or close to anything that will catch on fire.

    On that note, I have two turkeys on my counter ready to be injected with butter and a nice rub put on them before I fry them. Fully defrosted, no need for a hospital visit.

    • by ThePeices (635180)

      This must be an American thing, but, why would you want to deep fry a turkey in the first place?

      • by hondo77 (324058)
        Because there are a large number of Americans who want to fry everything they eat.
  • We deep-fry turkeys all the time.

    You do it with a thawed or fresh turkey and you don't use a pot that's too small for the amount of oil it must hold.

    • by batkiwi (137781)

      They know they're doing it wrong, that's the point of the video!

      Many people think that you can use deep frying as a short cut if you forgot to thaw your turkey.

      People are stupid, news at 11!

  • What's the deal with turkey fryers? I've always done them in the oven.
    • by tchuladdiass (174342) on Thursday November 22, 2012 @02:18PM (#42067343) Homepage

      Deep frying a whole turkey makes it come out extremely juicy -- it doesn't have that "fried" flavor or taste. Cooking in the oven gets you a bit dryer turkey. What happens is the hot oil sears the skin, trapping the juices inside. Usually you inject them with a butter based solution, seasoned with various spices, and that gets embedded into the turkey meat. Oh, and when you inject the bird, first figure out which way you are going to position it in the pot, and make sure the injection holes are at the top (try to reuse the same injection site, and with different angles / depths), so that the juice doesn't run out into the oil when cooking.

      And yes, the first time I had seen this done was in Arkansas. But like I said above, it doesn't come out greasy or anything like that.

      • by fermion (181285)
        Have you tried brining it?
      • What happens is the hot oil sears the skin, trapping the juices inside.

        I've heard this for steaks, and I've also seen the experimental rebuttal from (IIRC) the Cook's Illustrated/Test Kitchen people which showed additional moisture loss from searing. In fact, many cooks advocate exactly the opposite: slow-cooking a steak before searing in order to minimize overcooking and produce a juicier steak.

        I've also heard that deep frying is the most efficient (heat transfer/loss) cooking method. Perhaps the fas

      • by Russ1642 (1087959)
        You're injecting them with butter, but it "doesn't come out greasy or anything like that". Seriously?
        • No, it doesn't. Really. These are fried turkeys, but they're not breaded first, so very little oil is retained - the skin keeps a little, but that's it.
  • Better video... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bomarc (306716) on Thursday November 22, 2012 @01:52PM (#42067147) Homepage
    This one by State Farm [youtube.com] is better... and it shows the ice in the oil trick!
  • do it right, and thaw the turkey first.

    otherwise it will explode as shown.

    You CAN fry a turkey and it is delicious.
  • i wonder how many people will deep fry a frozen turkey on purpose just to see the explosion.

    and for good measure, drop a pumpkin or two in the deep fryer, also just to see what happens.

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday November 22, 2012 @02:12PM (#42067303) Homepage

    I think the last part of the video which explains the science behind this and compares turkey-and-oil-induced BLEVE [wikipedia.org] to similar incidents involving exploding gas tanks and storage facilities.

    Even a dramatic reading by William Shatner [youtube.com] would have been more interesting.

  • Err... (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by pev (2186)

    I'd never even considered doing that in the first place?! (OK, ignoring me being vegetarian that is...!)

    How many Slashdotters had that cross their mind? Do our American cousins not get taught cookery basics at school? Should they be doing demo videos of why one shouldn't also cook turkeys using [ petrol / napalm / thermite ] as well just in case?

    I'm flummoxed.

    • Re:Err... (Score:5, Informative)

      by bmo (77928) on Thursday November 22, 2012 @02:43PM (#42067549)

      1. You're missing out.
      2. You don't have deep fryers in jolly ol'?
      3. Deep frying is basic cookery.
      4. The turkey comes out juicy and not dried out.
      5. It akes 30-45 minutes.
      6. Crispy turkey skin.
      7. It's safe if you read the instructions and warnings and *pay them heed.*

      You can take your American bashing and shove it.

      --
      BMO

    • Despite bmo's bravado, the answer to your question is "No". I'm male, and I learned no cooking in school. I learned at home, and out in the woods. Females? Well - when I was in school, they had Home Economics. I'm not real sure that they learned anything in Home-Ec, because a lot of those girls couldn't boil water without scorching the pan.

      I don't even think they have Home-Ec anymore. Due to the fact that they can't beat a young man into wearing an apron in Home-Ec, they decided that the class is sexi

      • I'm female, and I learned no cooking in school. My husband is a little older, and he did learn a bit of cooking. But it was mostly done away with by the time I entered highschool. I don't know if it was because it is sexist or because it means people won't be buying from McDonalds and such. Where will all the future McDonalds workers the schools are churning out go if people aren't buying their food from McDonalds?
        • by Viceice (462967)

          Maybe what needs to happen around Thankgiving is community kitchens. Have a temporary commercial kitchen setup somewhere in town staffed by people with a clue where, for a small donation, people can go get their turkey cooked.

          Heck, I can even see sponsors being brought in to defray some costs, and a sense of community being built up around it.

      • by uncqual (836337)
        Although, many years ago when they still offered but did not require Home Economics in high school and boys were allowed, some guys took it thinking it would be both an easy class and a good place to try to pick up girls. The former was true, the latter I'm not so sure of as I didn't hear many stories of "success" with this strategy.
    • by sjames (1099)

      Frying the turkey is growing in popularity and is a perfectly good way to cook turkey.

      You just have to make sure it's well thawed first, and inevitably with a population of 300 million, a few forget that every year.

    • Dear Flummoxed.

      We are told that in your country there are people who eat roast beef well done, by choice. You have no claim on the culinary moral high ground.
      • by radish (98371)

        I'm British. The only people I've ever met who eat beef well done have been American (for example all of my wife's family). Quite a shame given how good the beef is over here in the US of A.

  • The DHS warned about this last year. [go.com] Where there aint be no terrorists or journalists, there be birds without feathers.
    And don't mind that strange man in a trench-coat lurking outside your house; he's just one of many TSA agents volunteering to frisk your turkey. If you stuff it in a diaper first, he'll give you free Pre-Check when he's finished.
  • But how did it taste afterward?

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