Thermometers for culinary use are specifically designed and suited to measuring a range of temperatures in a variety of food products. Because of the wide range of possible foodstuffs and large temperature ranges that could be required, a number of various devices are needed:
- Jam or oil thermometer
- Used in deep-frying and jam making and generally covers a wide temperature range and is capable of being safely immersed in high temperatures up to 240° C
- Home brewing / cheese making thermometer
- Digital thermometer with built-in humidity reading
- Not specifically designed for measuring the temperature of food, but extremely useful in determining the suitability areas in which food is to be stored when temperature and humidity have to be taken into account such as cheese making.
Before the advent of thermometers, Sugar stages could be used to determine the temperature, purely by the corresponding state of the sugar.
How to use a meat thermometer
Where to place the meat thermometer
The temperature of the meat should be taken towards the end of the resting time. The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the flesh, but not touching the bone. This is usually the breast or the thigh. The thermometer should be left in place for 30 seconds or so to allow the temperature to stabilise. If in doubt, consult the manufacturers instructions.
The thermometer should be placed in the centre of the thickest part of the food being careful not to touch bones or the dish surface which could lead to false readings.
What are the safe meat temperatures?
We have a chart that covers the safe cooking temperature for more than 45 different type of meats and other food types.
A two-way temperature calculator
A Centigrade to Fahrenhiet / Fahrenhiet to Centigrade temperature converter.
Digital thermometers with a probe
More accurate than ordinary meat thermometers are digital ones with a probe, such as a Thermapen, which can give you a reading in 3-4 seconds. Like non-digital thermometers, care should be taken to wipe the probe with an unperfumed anti-bacterial wipe to prevent salmonella, listeria etc between readings. These can be used to check the internal temperature of many things apart from meat and the list below shows some other temperatures.
- Fish 60°C / 140°F
- Egg dishes 70°C / 160°F
- Poaching water 71-82°C / 160-180°F
- Low simmer 82°C / 180°F
- Simmer 85°C / 185°F
- Slow boil 96°C / 205°F
- Rolling boil 100°C / 212°F
- Bread (enriched dough) 77°C / 170°F
- Bread (plain dough) 88-93°C / 190-200°F
- Water (for adding to yeast) 41-46°C / 105-115°F
- Butter (chilled) 2°C / 35°F
- Butter (softened) 18-19°C / 65-67°F
- Butter (melted and cooled) 29-32°C / 85-90°F
- Sponge cake 95-98°C / 203-208°F
- Fruit cake 98-100°C / 208-212°F
Ensure that the probe is inserted into the food at least 3mm deep to obtain an accurate reading. Some people even use them to test the temperature of their bath water!