|Clockwise from top right: Thermapen instant read, Refrigerator thermometer, |
oven thermometer, Oven probe, instant read thermometer
There a couple of reasons I use food thermometers – but safety and consistent cooking results are the top two. In a food service environment, the temperature of foods are a top safety concern to prevent food poisoning, and most state food inspectors and food service managers carry a thermometer just like they carry a pen or keys.
I recommend a good refrigerator thermometer for both your freezer and refrigerator – the last time our electricity went out for 5 hours, I simply had to glance at the thermometer after the lights came back on and see that it had remained in a safe zone, which saved me a lot of worry. Myrna's new fridge actually comes with a nice thermometer - a great feature!
I also keep a good oven thermometer in the oven all the time – it’s a good check on your oven’s performance.
Instant read thermometers are a real life-saver for checking on doneness – there are a lot of them available at a lot of price points, but I have found all of them work pretty well, and you can get one inexpensively at many stores that carry housewares. I use mine to check my water for making yeast breads, to see if my breads, meats or custards and the like are done, but not overdone.
My favorite is an oven thermometer with a probe for roasting meats – no more overcooked chickens, turkeys, roasts and the like. The readout rests on the counter, with the probe in the thickest part of the meat – I don’t even have to open the oven door! You can usually set the finished temperature and it will buzz or beep when it reaches that temp.
How to Use a Food Thermometer
- Use an instant-read food thermometer to check the internal temperature toward the end of the cooking time, but before the food is expected to be "done."
- The food thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food and should not be touching bone, fat, or gristle.
- Compare your thermometer reading to the USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures to determine if your food has reached a safe temperature.
- Make sure to clean your food thermometer (probe end only) with hot, soapy water before and after each use!
USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
- Steaks & Roasts - 145 °F
- Fish - 145 °F
- Pork - 145 °F
- Ground Beef - 160 °F
- Egg Dishes - 160 °F
- Chicken Breasts - 165 °F
- Whole Poultry - 165 °F
- Casseroles – 160°
Some Other Useful Food Temperatures:
Yeast breads and quick breads are done at 190°-200° with the instant read thermometer pushed in about an 1” into the end of the loaf. For quick breads, check with a toothpick, should come out just clean.
Baked custards and bread puddings are set at about 180° to 185° - do not over bake. Let cool on rack in the pan of water 10 minutes to finish baking. Then remove baking dish to rack.
Temperatures for butter are:
- Chilled – 32°
- Slightly softned - 58°
- Softened – 65-67°
- Melted and Cooled – 85-90°
My Thermapen instructions recommend a good method for checking cakes and other favorite recipes. They suggest taking the temperature when your product is done as you like - just when you remove it from the heat. Jot that temperature on your recipe if you are satisfied with the doneness and use it in the future.