What is an “instant-read” thermometer?
Every kitchen should have an instant-read thermometer.
An instant-read thermometer looks like a long, thick needle with a temperature gauge at one end. You insert it into food (usually meat or chicken) during cooking to instantly find out the internal temperature of whatever it is you’re preparing. You can also use it to determine the temperature of water when baking bread, and, with some thermometers, you can use it for deep frying and making candy.
There are two types of instant-read thermometers: dial-face and digital.
The upside to a dial-face instant-read thermometer is that it is cheaper and can be recalibrated easily by twisting the hexagonal hub beneath the dial. The downside is that they can be difficult to read.
The upside to a digital instant-read thermometer is that it is amazingly accurate and is much easier to read. The downside is that they’re more expensive and can be difficult to recalibrate.
Here are some points to consider before you buy anything:
• Is it waterproof? If not, it won’t go in the dishwasher and you’ll have to be careful when cleaning.
• Is it oven proof? Most can’t be left in the oven for extended periods of time.
• What is the temperature range? Some instant read thermometers have a range between 0°F and 220°F, which is useless if you want to use it for deep frying or making candy. A range between -30°F and 400°F (or higher) is better.
• Is the thermometer made with an anti-microbial additive to help prevent the growth of bacteria?
I still have (and use) the cheap stainless steel instant-read thermometer that I bought when I was in cooking school.
But I also have a really “wowie-wow-wow” model: the Splash Proof Super-Fast Thermapen™ by ThermoWorks. In red. It is so cool. But before you buy, think about what you’re going to use it for and how often, and make your decision from there. (But the Thermapen™ comes in 11 different colors! I’m just saying…)