A digital meat thermometer accurately reads the internal temperature of cooked meat in about ten seconds. Used correctly, it's an accurate and easy way to assess whether or not your meat is cooked as you like it.
Where to Buy
Most gourmet stores and mass retailers carry digital meat thermometers. When shopping for a thermometer, consider how much you plan to use it and whether you want some of the extra features offered. Some digital thermometers offer remote readouts, for example, and other fancy gadgets. Brands of digital thermometers to consider include Taylor, Webber (the grill company who make special thermometers just for the barbecue-obsessed), Primo and others.
Online, find digital meat thermometers at the following stores:
- Digital Thermometers offers a huge selection and a handy online method to compare features and prices.
- Brookstone, the ultimate destination for grown ups who still need their toys, offers the Charcoal Companion Steak Station Digital Meat Thermometer which lets you monitor four steaks at once.
- What's Cooking in America offers tips on choosing a digital meat thermometer, followed by a list of brands with customer reviews. Even if you don't wish to purchase a meat thermometer online, just reading and comparing the customer reviews is helpful. It can give you insight into what other people liked or didn't like about the thermometers.
Differences Between Digital and Conventional Thermometers
There are several key differences between digital and conventional meat thermometers. Conventional meat thermometers are also called liquid-filled meat thermometers. Like thermometers used to measure air or body temperature, these are filled with a liquid that rises and measures the temperature reading on a gauge.
- Liquid Filled Thermometers: These types of meat thermometers are inserted several inches into the meat at the thickest part. They have a metal tube or stem with a pointed end that is inserted into the meat. At the top is a flat or round gauge. The thermometer is inserted before the meat is cooked or after the meat has been cooking for a while. It can take up to several minutes to register the temperature depending on the thermometer and the item being cooked. You need to be patient and wait until the gauge stops rising before judging the actual temperature is of the meat.
- Digital Meat Thermometer: Digital thermometers are used after the meat is removed from the oven. They are never used in the oven itself, or you can ruin the thermometer. Chefs remove the meat from the oven, slide a digital thermometer only about half an inch into the meat, and wait several seconds before they read the temperature. Then the thermometer is removed.
Reasons to Use a Meat Thermometer
There are many reasons why you might wish to use a meat thermometer.
- Safety: Meat must be cooked to the minimal internal temperature in order to ensure food safety. These are temperatures that are known to kill various bacteria, parasites and other nasty critters that might be inside your meat. No matter how clean the store that cut the meat, some bacteria inevitably gets onto the meat
- Test Doneness: Another reason is to accurately gauge the rarity or doneness of beef cuts. Depending on whether you prefer rare, medium rare, medium, medium well or well, you will want to know the temperature of the meat. Cutting the meat open to see how pink or brown it is inside allows the juices that keep meat moist to escape. It's much better to use a thermometer, and digital meat thermometers make a convenient and quick way to assess the temperature of roasts, steaks and other meats.
When shopping for your thermometer, don't forget all those little extras that outfit the chef for any task, such as a Microplane Box Grater or Microplane Zester, and all the other gadgets that make tasks easier.