How to Choose and Use a Meat Thermometer
Cooking thermometers are inexpensive, convenient tools that could save you from the pain and stress of food poisoning. Every year, we waste millions of dollars on throwing away food that is overcooked, and the number of people who get sick from eating undercooked meat is staggering.
In 2011, 128,000 Americans were hospitalized because of food-borne illnesses, and about 3,000 people died. Each year, one in six Americans will end up getting sick through eating poorly cooked meat. This is a terrifying statistic when you consider how easily such illnesses can be prevented.
A good instant read meat thermometer will ensure that you never get sick because of under cooking your food ever again. The old-fashioned way of judging how well meat is cooked simply by cutting into it is ineffective and unsafe. Using a meat thermometer is the safest way to ensure that your food is cooked properly.
You cannot rely on the bi-metal dial thermometer that comes with your grill. They are not accurate – and they can overestimate the temperature of your food by a significant margin. In addition, they can take a long time to stabilize on a reading. It is much more efficient, and safer, to get a proper digital meat thermometer instead.
High quality digital thermometers come with a probe that can be inserted into the meat. To use the thermometer properly, take the probe and stab it into the side of the meat, well away from the bone. Put it inside the thickest part of the meat, as deep as you can so that it (ideally) goes past the center. Slowly pull the probe out and watch the reading. The lowest temperature is the most important one. Test more than one part of the meat, and count the lowest temperature in each case.
It is a good idea to calibrate your thermometer once a year, to ensure that it is still giving a good reading. Test it with boiling water, and also with ice water. A small amount of variance is acceptable, since the boiling point of water will differ depending on your altitude, but if the thermometer’s reading in boiling water is far away from 212F or the reading when exposed to ice is significantly different to 32F then there is a problem.
Look for thermometers that have long probes and sturdy cables, and that are able to give rapid readings so that you can test your food easily. If the thermometer is so slow and annoying to use that you keep neglecting to test your food, then the thermometer is next-to useless.
Below is some great places to get some great Meat Thermometers on Amazon.com!