Cooking thermometers measure the internal temperature of cooked food. This ensures that harmful bacteria are destroyed and whether the food is cooked perfectly well thus preventing food-borne diseases.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Every year 76 million people in the United States fall ill due to food-borne diseases, out of these, around 5,000 deaths occur”. Therefore cooking thermometers are becoming essential equipment in the kitchen. They help us retain the nutritious value of the food, and also protects us from unwanted diseases.
How to use a cooking thermometer?
To get the desired result, the thermometer should be properly handled. It is absolutely necessary that thermometers should be properly calibrated to get an accurate reading.
It should be inserted in the thickest part of the food and should not touch bone, fat, or gristle.
It should be put at the full length of the sensing area. The sensing area of thermometers is typically ½ inch to 2 inches long and should be completely immersed in the deepest area of the food.
For checking the thin foods like hamburger patties, it is recommended to use an instant-read thermometer from sideways.
The temperature of egg dishes, meat casseroles, and irregularly shaped foods such as roasts, should be checked at several places.
The thermometer reading should be co
The microwave-safe type is especially designed only for microwave ovens. Compared to the recommended internal temperatures in the chart.
The stem of the food thermometer should be cleaned with hot soapy water before and after each use and take care never to immerse the head in the water.
There are many types of cooking thermometers with the instructions for its proper use For eg. Ovens use only oven-safe thermometers as these are recommended. After the food is removed from the oven, you can test it with instant-read thermometers.
Which type of cooking or meat thermometer to buy?
Make sure the thermometer you buy is designed for meeting the specific need of the cooking.
Regular, Ovenproof Types go into the food at the beginning of the cooking time and can be read easily.
The digital instant-read thermometers should be used only at the end of the cooking process. These thermometers are ideal for barbecues and are easy to use.
Pop-up type is commonly found in poultry farms but may be purchased for other types of meat.
Some of the cooking thermometers are:
Wireless remote cooking thermometer with which you can monitor the food in the grill or in the oven even if you are 100 feet away. Just insert the thermometer into the food, leave the remote transmitter next to the oven or BBQ, set the cooking time, and take the receiver with you. You can check the temperature wherever you are in the house.
Liquid filled thermometer checks the temperature of roasts, casseroles, and soups at a speed of 1-2 minutes. It is placed two inches deep in the thickest part of the food. As the temperature increases, the colored liquid inside the thermometer expands and rises to indicate the temperature on a scale. But, this thermometer cannot give the temperature of thin food s. Also, the heat conduction of its metal shield can even give a false high reading. Moreover, its calibration also cannot be adjusted and it breaks quite often. They are the oldest types known in homes kitchens and are also called as “spirit-filled” or “liquid in glass” thermometers.
Bimetallic-coil thermometers contain coils made of two different metals, which have different rates of expansion. These are bonded together with one element fixed at one end, and the other end is attached to a pointer stem. As the temperature increases, the pointer will be rotated by the coiled bimetal element indicating the temperature.
Bimetal (oven-safe) thermometer operates at a speed of 1-2 minutes and is dipped 2-2-1/2 deep in the thickest part of the food. It measures temperatures of roasted food, casseroles, and soups. It does not give an appropriate reading for thin foods and the heat conduction of metal steam can give a false high reading. These thermometers can measure temperatures from 100 to 600°F.
Bi-metal (instant-read) thermometer reads the temperature in 15-20 seconds and is placed at 2-2-1/2 inches deep in the thickest part of the food. It checks the internal temperature of food at the end of cooking. It can be calibrated but cannot measure thin food unless inserted sideways and cannot be used in an oven.
The thermistor thermometer can run at a speed of 10 seconds and is placed ½ inch deep inside the food. It is used to measure the temperature of hamburger, patty, and pork chops. It is digital and gives measurements even in thin foods however it cannot be used in the oven while cooking.
Thermocouple thermometer has a speed of 5 seconds, can be dipped ¼ inch, and is used for hamburger patty, and pork chops. It is digital and quickly measures thinnest foods. It can also be calibrated
Microwave oven probes are plugged into the microwave and inserted into the food being cooked. Some microwaves can be programmed to cook the food until the desired temperature is reached.
Candy/Jelly/Deep fry thermometers measure temperatures ranging from 100 to 400 °F. They are used to measure the extra-high temperatures required for candy and jelly making, as well as in frying.
A refrigerator/Freezer thermometer is necessary to verify the temperature of refrigerators and freezers. Refrigerators should remain at a temperature not higher than 40 °F. Frozen food will remain in its originally fresh even for a longer period of time if kept at a temperature of 0 °F. Therefore a thermometer should be kept in the refrigerator and freezer to monitor this temperature. These are bimetallic-coil thermometers, which are specially designed to provide accurate results in cold temperatures.
How to test a cooking thermometer?
Thermometers should be verified regularly and few dial thermometers produce a calibration nut under the dial, which could be changed by rotating the small nut under the thermometer face with pliers.
There are some ways for you below to verify the correctness of a food thermometer
- Ice water method in which a large glass is filled with finely smashed ice, then clean water is added on top of the ice and stirred well. Soak the thermometer stem 2 inches deep in the mix. If it’s correct, the thermometer shows 32 °F after around 30 seconds.
- The boiling water method is by bringing water to a full rolling boil and immersing the stem 2 inches deep into the boiling water. The thermometer should read 212 °F after 30 seconds.
Care & handling of thermometers
Care and handling of thermometers are of utmost importance. Its stem should be washed in hot, soapy water if necessary use a scouring pad, then rinse it and dry. You can immerse thermometers in water but do not soak or wash in the dishwasher. Thus, enjoy your life with healthy food of your choice of-course with a thermometer to check the temperature of your food and give you the assurance that you have destroyed all harmful bacteria.