How do you know if the oil is hot enough to cook this Thanksgiving? Listen to: NPR

While a thermometer will tell you if the oil is hot enough for frying, scientists say the sound a wet chopstick makes when dipped in oil will be too.

Jason Kempin / Getty Images


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Jason Kempin / Getty Images


While a thermometer will tell you if the oil is hot enough for frying, scientists say the sound a wet chopstick makes when dipped in oil will be too.

Jason Kempin / Getty Images

Thanksgiving is almost here and, maybe, you are planning to brave the fryer.

You have the oil. You have the pan. You have fire. You should be good to go, right?

But how do you know when the oil is ready?

Fluid dynamics researchers have a tip: use your ears.

Scientists took inspiration from a classic cooking hack, used to test tempura frying oil. You wet the sharp end of a wooden chopstick, stick it in oil, and listen.

“If you hear very loud crackles or crackles, it’s probably too hot,” said Tadd Truscott of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.

“And then if you can’t hear anything, it’s usually too cold.”

What if the oil is right?

“Then there’s a kind of pretty bubbling sound. [It] almost sounds like a song to some people, as it was once described to me, ”Truscott said.

He and his team wanted to see what types of bubbles form at different temperatures, and how those bubbles, in turn, create that sizzling “song”. So they repeated the test of the chopsticks at different oil temperatures, ranging from 150 to 210 degrees Celsius, while recording high-speed audio and video.

Truscott collaborator Rafsan Rabbi of Utah State University said that when you dip a wet wand in hot oil, the water begins to vaporize and form water bubbles that rise to the surface. . Air bubbles also form.

“Now that water bubble and air bubbles would be a different shape and size, and it would dictate how much noise you actually hear and it would dictate how often you hear noise,” the rabbi said.

The researchers also said that the wooden chopsticks work best for this experiment, as they may contain some water for the test. And no matter how big and chunky they were, the chopsticks were all about the same size at the pointed end.

So why is this important? Well, the phenomena they’re studying go way beyond the fryer, Truscott said.

“In fact, even in your car, whenever there is a combustion, a lot of these same behaviors occur. And so all of this is important in our daily life. We just don’t realize it. behind the scenes .”

OK, real world apps are great. But how many cooks have seen their work?

Contributor Akihito Kiyama, a postdoctoral researcher at the state of Utah, admitted a little timidly that he was living with his expert.

“Oh yeah, my wife,” Kiyama said.

“Yes, Aki’s wife was our leader,” Truscott added with a laugh.

Kiyama goes present the results of their study next week in Phoenix, Arizona at the 74th Annual Meeting of the Division of Fluid Dynamics.

No word yet on how many fried chefs will be there.


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