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Frying Up a Mess O' Turkeys

I have been looking all over the Internet for the answer to this question and have yet to find it. I want to fry turkeys this weekend. I hate to heat up 5 gallons of peanut oil to fry just one turkey. How many 12- to 13-pound turkeys can one batch of oil do before the oil begins to break down and get nasty?

Oil can be surprisingly fussy. You generally fry at temperatures that are quite close to the oil's smoke point, and the more a quantity of oil has been exposed to heat, oxygen, and impurities, its smoke point decreases and the oil breaks down. Frying is usually done between about 350F and 375F (175C and 190C), while the smoke point of peanut oil starts out around 410F (210C).

If you keep oil clean, it can usually be used 5 to 7 times. How well you control the temperature of the oil (keeping it from overheating), how dry the turkeys are when the go into the fryer, and how committed you are to skimming off impurities will determine how many turkeys you can fry. The oil will darken as you continue to use it, but this is not a problem until it is accompanied by an unpleasant odor, excessive foaming, and eventually smoke and uncontrollable flames. We suggest you call it a day at the unpleasant-odor stage.

And tell us again why didn't you come to Ochef first? The Internet can be a pretty scary place, you know....

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