When it becomes mandatory to heat oil to a specific temperature to achieve a perfectly cooked dish especially during a deep-frying process, one cannot do without using a thermometer to measure the temperature of the oil. But what if the thermometer is not available in the kitchen?
This question is what this article is about to answer as I am going to take you by the hand step by step to show you the different methods in heating oil to 350 or 375 degrees Fahrenheit when the thermometer is not readily available.
Start by selecting the right pan which is a deep wide heavy bottomed pan or pot capable of withstanding heavy heat and capable of distributes heat evenly.
Then turn enough oil that covers the food like pork rinds you are cooking or frying into the pan or pot. This oil should be capable of withstanding high temperatures and as such suitable for high temperature frying or cooking. I recommend using vegetable, canola oil or peanut oil.
Place the pan or pot containing oil on a preheated stove or heat source and then turn the heat source or stove to medium high heat for the pan to gradually heat up.
Using one or more of the following methods below you will be able to know when the oil heat up to 350- or 375-degrees Fahrenheit.
Visual Clues: This is one of the ways of knowing when the oil temperature reaches 350 or 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The oil starts shimmering, giving off a faint wisp of smoke when the oil reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit and then exhibit more visible smoke when the oil reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit. By this time the oil appears thinner.
Drip Test: This involves dropping a small amount of the liquid you intend to fry such as batter or dough into the oil and observe its behavior.
If the batter sinks to the bottom of the heated oil and then steadily rises to the surface, the oil is around 350 degrees Fahrenheit but if it immediately rises to the surface and at the same time sizzle vigorously then the oil is at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Timing Method: This technique is used when you know someone that already know the time taken for that particular oil to reach 350 or 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take a timer and then start to heat the oil on medium heat while keeping an eye on the timer. Note the time the oil in question takes to reach 350 or 375 degrees Fahrenheit. When it gets to that time just know that the oil is at either 350 or 375 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the specified for the oil to get to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Test with a wooden spoon: Dip the end of a wooden spoon with a long handle into the oil and watch bubbles build up around the spoon. When the bubbles start rising to the surface the oil is likely 350 degrees Fahrenheit and when the bubbles rise to the top rapidly, the temperature of the oil is 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Test with a metal slotted spoon: This further confirms the oil temperature in the sense that when the spoon is submerged into the oil with emergence of rapid number of bubbles, the oil is at 375 degrees Fahrenheit and hot enough for frying.
Bread Cube Test: Drop a small piece of bread into the oil. If the bread turns into golden brown within 60 seconds, the oil is at 350 degrees Fahrenheit but when it takes less than 60 seconds to turn to golden brown color then the oil is at a temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the bread cube test indicate that the oil is too hot, reduce the heat of the stove and if the bread cube takes a longer time to turn then increase the temperature of the heat to the desired temperature.
It is important to maintain the temperature of the oil during cooking to obtain the desired meals. With the oil at the desired temperature, cook or fry your desired food items according to your recipe instructions.