There’s nothing LESS fun about a family dinner or celebration than a case of food poisoning after the fact.
Second worst, is food cooked to sawdust out of a fear of the first situation.
That’s where a meat thermometer can absolutely save your supper!
We keep both digital and analog thermometers in our kitchen, just in case there’s a suspicion of one being off.
The benefit of the simple, basic analog thermometer is that it can be calibrated when it goes a little off. And it’s as simple as a glass of ice water and a wrench.
Place the stem of the thermometer into a glass of ice water and, if the dial reads anything other than 0, adjust the nut at the top of the thermometer’s probe until it does.
What the digital thermometer offers, however, is precision and speed. Both types do take a bit of time to get to their destination, but the digital can be a lot quicker and, if you’re looking for an exact temperature, you may get it easier with a digital thermometer.
As long as the batteries are good, so are you! But always have a backup, just in case.
In addition to the usual meat thermometers (which really can be used for plenty more than that), a candy thermometer is helpful if you ever can vegetables, deep fry anything or make candy, since those situations can require much higher temperatures than meat is comfortable getting to.
Of course, having the thermometer is one thing, using it another.
Here are a few tips:
- The part of the probe that registers temperature is the first inch or less, so make sure that part is in the middle of the deepest or thickest part of the meat or casserole to get an accurate reading.
- Some meat thermometers can be left in the roast while in the oven, others cannot. Make sure you know which type you’re using.
- Casseroles and stuffed poultry need to reach 165° Fahrenheit to be considered safe to eat, and by that I mean the direct center of everything needs to be that temperature, not one of the outside edges.
- Beef and lamb are considered rare at 140° Fahrenheit, medium at 160° Fahrenheit, and well-done at 170° Fahrenheit.
- Pork roasts should be cooked to 160° Fahrenheit, while cured hams only have to go to 130° Fahrenheit (their earlier preservation makes them safer at lower temperatures).
- A potato is done at 210° Fahrenheit and a baked custard at 180° Fahrenheit.
And, finally, is it safe to eat a medium-rare burger?
The ugly little bacteria (I only wish they were as cuddly as the Giant Microbes) that cause illness from undercooked meats generally live on the surface. Because ground meats have their surfaces all over, it’s easier to get sick from a medium-rare burger than a rare steak (the outside of the steak, even at rare, is hotter than the internal 140° Fahrenheit, and most if not all of the baddies have been eradicated at that point).
So the answer to that last question is: Do ya feel lucky?
Well, do you?
(Disclaimer: all product photos and links are Amazon affiliate links. If you opt to purchase something as a result of clicking any of them, you’ll be sending a few pennies per dollar–like, 4, I think–my way to help pay off the debts I’ve incurred writing this book instead of selling other things. And for that, I thank you.)