Having a meat thermometer in your kitchen is great for ensuring that you serve up juicy, tender, well-cooked meat every time.
In fact, after several weeks of owning one, you’ll probably wonder how you ever got on without it!
However, not all thermometers are created equal. Hence, when buying one, it’s a good idea to think about what you want to use it for the most, and then make sure you choose one that is suitable.
What do we mean by this? For example, many ask: can you use a meat thermometer for oil? Now, to help you figure this out, this article will take a quick look at the different types of thermometer available and their uses in the kitchen.
Types of Kitchen Thermometers
If your thermometer is called a meat thermometer, then it is likely that it will only read temperatures up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and can be used for all types of meat as well as poultry and fish. They come in analog and digital versions, and they generally can be classified into two types:
- Instant-read Meat Thermometers
This type of thermometer is designed to give you an instant temperature reading. When you think your meat might be done, then you just insert the probe end of the thermometer into your meat (at the thickest part), and take the reading.
The reading will be accurate anywhere between 3 and 30 seconds. These thermometers can be used for different cuts of meat but are better for smaller cuts that you are cooking on the grill or stove.
- Oven-safe Meat Thermometers
Oven-safe thermometers are designed to be pierced into the meat before you start cooking. Whether you are cooking your meat in the oven or on the stove, this thermometer is left in the meat so you can keep an eye on the temperature throughout the cooking process. They are only removed when the meat reaches the correct doneness.
This type of thermometer is perfect for cooking large cuts of meat and is very handy as you can easily make sure you don’t overcook your meat if you remember to keep an eye on it.
Kitchen thermometers that are sold as candy thermometers are designed to withstand much higher temperatures than most meat thermometers. Candy and oil temperatures are much higher than those of meat and other liquids, so it is crucial that you have a thermometer that can cope with temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Unless you have a brand new oven, then there is a good chance that its temperature is not accurate. Oven thermometers are especially useful if you are cooking with an older or unfamiliar oven. You can set the temperature on the oven and then, using this tool, check that it is indeed at the correct temperature before cooking your food.
Can You Use a Meat Thermometer for Oil?
Most meat thermometers, regardless of type, can only read temperatures up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. However, cooking oils can get as high up as 320 degrees Fahrenheit. The truth is that not all kitchen thermometers can cope with temperatures that high.
When deep-frying food in oil, a candy thermometer makes a fantastic kitchen accessory that you can use to ensure that the oil is the perfect temperature before adding your food. If the oil is cooler than this, then your food will absorb too much oil and become greasy. If your oil is too hot, then your food will burn before cooking through.
- Poultry (including chicken, turkey, and duck)
Should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit
- Ground meat (including ground beef and pork)
Should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit
- All other meat (including beef, pork, and lamb)
Should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit
- Oil (for deep-frying)
Should be heated to between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Other Benefits of Owning a Kitchen Thermometer
Having a kitchen thermometer is also useful for measuring the temperature of other things around the house, such as:
Measuring the Temperature of Water/Liquids
You can easily check the temperature of water, stews, and soups by inserting the probe into the liquid. Parents often find them useful to check the temperature of their child’s bath or bottle of milk, for example.
When Reheating Food
When reheating food in the microwave, you can use your kitchen thermometer to check whether the food is heated properly and all the way through.
Kitchen Thermometer Maintenance
Always make sure that you clean the probe end of your thermometer after every use to avoid cross-contamination. Also, be sure to dry it properly before storing to prevent rust.
You should also regularly check if your thermometer is giving you accurate readings. The easiest way to do this is to insert the probe end into a glass of ice water. The temperature reading should be 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If you get a different reading from this, then you may have to recalibrate your thermometer, or even buy a new one if this isn’t possible.
So, can you use a meat thermometer for oil? The short answer is: only if it can withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, the majority of meat thermometers are not designed to withstand this heat.
Therefore, if you want to measure the temperature of cooking oils, then buy a candy thermometer, or even better, a multi-purpose thermometer that can be used for meat and candy!