Food thermometers: how to use them and check their accuracy
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Food thermometers help you:
- Cook food to a safe temperature
- Prevent overcooking and get the best flavor
- Hold and store foods safely
Use a food thermometer every time you prepare hamburgers, poultry, roasts, pork chops, egg casseroles, meat loaves, and other combination dishes.
How to use a food thermometer
Large oven-proof dial thermometer
- Insert into whole poultry and roasts at the beginning of the cooking time and leave there while cooking.
- Insert the thermometer in the center of the thickest portion without touching fat or bone.
- Check readings as the food cooks.
- Insert stem at least 2 inches into the thickest part of the food without touching fat or bone.
- The temperature should register in about 15 to 20 seconds.
- Insert sideways into thin foods like hamburgers and chicken breasts.
- Insert stem at least 1/2 inch into the center of the thickest part of the food without touching fat or bone.
- The temperature will register in 5 seconds.
- Ideal for thin hamburgers, chicken breasts, pork chops, etc.
How to check the accuracy of a food thermometer
Dial thermometers should be check periodically. Follow manufacturer's recommendations.
Ice water method
- Fill a large glass with ice.
- Add water to the top of the ice and stir well. Let stand for 3 minutes.
- Place the thermometer stem at least 2 inches into the mixture.
- The thermometer should read 32 degrees after 30 seconds.
Boiling water method
- Bring water in a deep pan to a full rolling boil.
- Immerse the stem of thermometer 2 inches into the boiling water.
- The thermometer should read 212 degrees after 30 seconds.
Follow manufacturer instructions to make adjustments until the correct temperature registers and re-test.
Reviewed in 2018