The holidays are coming…and that means hosting large gatherings for feasts — with the big bird usually taking center stage. Who doesn’t love the Norman Rockwell imagery of the family gathered around the table, father poised over a massive roast turkey, carving set in hand? While oven roasting is the most traditional method — it’s debatable if anything beats the day-long anticipation and aroma of the perfectly tender, browned bird finally being removed from the oven — other methods are widely used. More recent gadgets like pressure cookers and deep fryers greatly reduce cooking time and free up the oven for all those mashed potatoes and pies, but it is crucial to do some prep before the big day and get to know your equipment. The greatest takeaway is that thorough reading of instruction manuals is absolutely imperative in order to avoid serious, even catastrophic injury to self, others and home. Maintenance of equipment, even basic thorough cleaning, is a crucial component of this. For example, it is advisable to replace the lid’s rubber gasket if it becomes dry or cracked, ensuring a tight seal. A toothpick can be used to clean out the pressure relief valve.
The contents of pressure cookers reach scalding temperatures (above boiling, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit) and tremendous force (up to a few hundred pounds worth). They are equipped with safety valves which release steam when it starts to build, as well as lockable lids that won’t open until pressure is released. A safety plug should shoot up if a steam vent malfunctions. One of the greatest dangers is over-filling the pot with food, which can block or clog the sensor valve so that the steam is not released through the vent which can eventually cause the lid to fly off. Horror stories abound of people unscrewing lids prematurely or lids exploding, covering people and kitchens with food that can cause second and even third degree burns. Steam makes a rupture and then continues to vent from the hole, like a jet.
Deep fryers are an alternative method in the quest for the perfectly cooked bird, but they too come with serious potential risks. Oil heats to over 350 degrees Fahrenheit; much hotter than water. And we’ve all heard the adage that oil and water don’t mix. If a turkey is not fully defrosted before being lowered into the oil, the residual ice can cause a boilover and a fire hazard. Oil expands in volume at cooking temperature so the vessel must not be over-filled. The burner should be turned off before putting the turkey in the oil, so that in the event of oil overflowing, it will not ignite. The propane tank must be placed as far from the cooker as possible, always outdoors and far from any flammable materials. Heavy gloves, oven mitts and closed-toe shoes are a must. As these safety precautions and instructions suggest, the hazards of turkey fryers can be grave. According to the National Fire Protection Association, every year deep-fryer fires are responsible for five deaths, 60 injuries, the destruction of 900 homes and more than $15 million in property damage.
The holidays can be stressful – so stressful that consumers sometimes skip the most vital part of owning any new piece of equipment which is reading and understanding how to safely operate the product. CED Technologies Inc. has expertise in evaluating equipment failures and urges everyone to take the time to become familiar with and understand your cooking equipment to ensure a safe holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!
Senior Mechanical Engineer
Materials Science Engineer