Gadget Must: Food Thermometer

Don’t have a thermometer for food?  You are DEFINITELY missing out – here are a few reasons why you should get a food thermometer.

Why buy a food thermometer?

  1. Jamming!  Making jam is so much fun and it’s even more fun with the help of a thermometer.  While I love surprises, jam isn’t exactly supposed to be a runny mess or hard as a brick.  Temperature does matter with jam and even though I can “see” when a jam is finished, the thermometer has proven me wrong on more than one occasion.
  2. Farenheight or Celcius?  Doesn’t matter, just flip the switch.  I like to make not only jams, but syrups, confits, dulche de leche and more – the recipes aren’t always from American sites.  With the one little click, my thermometer has gone metric.  Be sure yours has the same feature before you buy.
  3. Check your oven temperature!  We couldn’t figure out why nothing was cooking until we bought an oven safe thermometer – BINGO!  Our oven was lying to us!  So instead of getting a new oven, we keep the oven safe thermometer in the oven and rely on it for an accurate temperature reading.  An accurate temperature is a must for baked goods.
  4. Tricky to cook meat.  Since we don’t buy factory farmed meat, our chickens don’t come symmetrical and our turkeys don’t come with a pop out timer.  After drying out many a bird trying to cut into it and see if it’s done, I now use a thermometer.  I also use it when I think my husband is undercooking meat:)  There is no arguing with the thermometer!  Check out this convenient chart for done temperatures or indicators.
Category Food Temperature (°F)  Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160 None
Turkey, Chicken 165 None
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145 3 minutes
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165 None
Poultry breasts, roasts 165 None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings 165 None
Duck & Goose 165 None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165 None
Pork and Ham Fresh pork 145 3 minutes
Fresh ham (raw) 145 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) 140 None
Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm None
Egg dishes 160 None
Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers 165 None
Casseroles 165 None
Seafood Fin Fish 145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque. None
Clams, oysters, and mussels Cook until shells open during cooking. None
Scallops Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm. None

So now that you’re going to get a food thermometer, which one should you get?  There is a really great guide to food thermometers that can help.  We have two in our house, a digital instant read and a dial oven safe.  You can probably find one that fits all of your needs, we only have two because our oven’s temperature gage does not match the actual temperature.

Thermometer TIP: You can also check the temperature of your refrigerator.  We found out that our 20 year old beast of a fridge actually does not get as cold as it’s supposed to.  This is why our well planned and seemingly well executed attempts to work with pastry dough failed!  While it’s cold enough for most stuff, delicate and sensitive items can easily ruin.