The moist, succulent taste of deep-fried turkey and the speed at which it cooks can easily leave you with a desire to make it yourself. Besides the turkey fryer safety issues, you've probably noticed that this can be a costly endeavor. You need to purchase a good turkey fryer and a regular-sized turkey requires several gallons oil. If you're like most people, you simply won't cook very many turkeys a year to justify the expense. Don't let that deter you because you can reuse oil for frying.
Under normal conditions, oil can be heated for up to six hours. A deep-fried turkey can cook in under an hour (three minutes per pound) so you can fry six items on six different occasions with a single batch of oil.
Choosing the Oil
The first step is choosing the right oil. An oil with a high smoke point will let you heat it up to a high temperature without it breaking down. When oil begins to break down it will go rancid and ruin the flavor of anything you cook in it. You don't have to worry about bacteria since it will be killed off when the oil heats up, but rancid oil should not be used.
Good oils for frying turkeys include peanut oil, corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil.
Once you've finished cooking and let the oil cool down, you can prepare it for storage. The first trick is to get rid of all the little things floating around in the oil. You can do this by pouring the oil through some cheesecloth over a funnel back into the oil's original container.
The problem with this is that if you used 10 gallons of oil it will weigh around 80 pounds. Trying to pour that amount of liquid is not a good idea. The easiest way to do this task is with an electric oil pump. It's a convenient little tool that makes getting the oil out of the pot quick and easy. If you plan to do a lot of frying, it will definitely come in handy.
With the oil filtered and in your storage container, you need to find a cool, dry, and dark place to store it. Ideally, it would be great if you could keep it refrigerated, but most people simply don't have that kind of space. Any place you have that fits the criteria (but won't let the oil freeze) will work. Properly stored, the oil will last up to six months.
Before you move the container to use it again, examine the oil well. If it has separated or smells bad, it needs to be disposed of and you'll have to start with a new batch. Otherwise, pour it back into your pot and heat it up as normal.
Remember that you need to keep the total heating time of any oil to six hours. Don't let it preheat for too long and turn off the burner five minutes before the turkey is done so it can begin cooling down as quickly as possible. Once your oil hits the six-hour mark, dispose of it.
It's important that you properly dispose of used cooking oil. That's a bit more of a challenge when you have several gallons to get rid of. The best option is to find an oil collection point in your area. Check with your local government or the Earth 911 website to find deposit sites that will safely dispose of cooking oil or recycle it into biodiesel. Some places may even pay you a small amount for your contribution.
More importantly, do not pour cooking oil down the sink, toilet, or put it into a septic system. Even a small amount can clog pipes and drainage fields, so a few gallons are sure to wreak havoc. It's also not good for compost bins.