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11 Apr 2023

Kitchen thermometer. How to choose?

Everyone who likes to cook and bake at some point of their culinary journey ponder which thermometer to buy. Thermometer, just as the scales, is an important element of confectioner’s equipment. Let’s see what thermometers there are and which types we need.

Needle – needle digital thermometers look like a ball pen, they are compact and convenient to use. Here is how they work: you immerse the needle into the product that you need to mesure the temperature of, and see numbers on the display. Two key things to pay attention to when purchasing: how fast it works and its waterproof qualities. Most common problem of such thermometers is that they stop working when water gets in. Thermoworks is one of the best brands here. Such thermometers fit for measuring the temperature of custards, glaze, and inside baked goods. 

Pyrometer – contactless thermometer that measures the temperature of the product without touching the product. Just point its ray at the surface and in just a second it will tell you the temperature of the product’s surface. 

The advantage of such thermometer is in that they work very fast and you don’t have to wash them after usage. However, you can’t use it to measure temperature of products and liquids that are hotter than 60C, because the vapor that exudes from the product gets in the way of measuring correctly. And, of course, the product should have the same temperature inside and on the surface for the pyrometer to work correctly.

Works perfectly for chocolate. Just remember to stir the chocolate thoroughly before measuring its temperature. 

Disadvantage of pyrometer is that it only measures the temperature of the surface and becomes inaccurate over time (the longer the distance is, the more the inaccuracy is).

Alcohol and caramel 

Alcohol thermometers are mostly used in confectionery business to measure temperature of syrups and boiling liquids. 

Here is how they work: when immersed into the liquid, the alcohol scale rises and shows the temperature. Such thermometer is indispensable when preparing marshmallow, marmalade, souffle, caramel, meringue, etc. Whilst needle thermometer is inaccurate when touching the bottom, alcohol tube is attached inside the flask which ensures its accuracy. Such thermometer is also convenient in that you can just leave it in the saucepan and check the temperature from time to time, so you don’t have to stand by the stove and keep it in your hands all the time. 

Alcohol thermometers can be found in confectionery stores. 

One essential advice I want to share as a result of having thrown away dozens of thermometers, is don’t buy them in chinese shops. You will not save money by doing so because their inaccuracy and tendency to break will cost you so much more. I also recommend to calibrate your thermometers once every half a year – this way you will be sure in their accuracy.