It’s very important to get the roast part of meat cooked just the way you would enjoy it. For that, you need to cook them at the right temperature without any guesswork involved. Here’s when a probe thermometer comes into use. A probe thermometer is a pointy device that can be inserted in meat to know its right temperature when you cook, thaw, roast or keeps it cold. Keep in mind that there are different types of thermometer, some are oven safe and some aren’t while some show digital readings and others use a dial. If the thermometer isn’t oven safe, do not leave it in the food that’s being cooked in an oven or on a stove.
To test the usefulness of the thermometer, place them in ice cold water or hot boiling water. Let it be still in there for about 30 seconds, the reading for cold water should be 32 degrees Fahrenheit and for hot water, it should be around 212 F.
Insert the pointed part of the probe into the thickest part of the meat as you want it to reach the center and not touch the bone. The center, in most cases, corresponds to the coolest part of the meat. Aim for the right general area than trying to gauge depth.
You must be careful about using the thermometer at the right time. While cooking meats, use the thermometer at the end of the minimum cooking time and let it remain inside the meat for about 15-20 seconds. Pull the probe out smoothly after you record your reading. For more accurate readings, you can follow certain other steps related to cuts of meat and their minimum temperature.
When you’re preparing roasts or thick chops, keep it at a minimum temperature of about 145 F and try to insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat. When you are cooking whole poultry, insert the thermometer at the inner thigh area near the breast but not touching the bone and allow it to reach 165 F. For thin items such as hamburger patties, insert the probe sideways and let it reach 160 F. You can also set the alarm to ring around 4-5 degrees below your desired temperature to avoid carryover cooking, that is, from letting your product cook even when it’s off the heating source. You will notice more carryover cooking when you cooked your meat at a higher temperature; it would be significantly less if you cook it on a grill, slow smoking meat as it is being cooked at a lower temperature.
You must remember to turn off your digital thermometer after every use to preserve its battery life and make sure it’s dry to prevent rust. You should always clean and sanitize the probe thermometers after every use with alcohol or sanitizing solution.
Avoid problems like overcooking and keep your meat tender and juicy by using meat probes in a proper manner so that you know when it’s done the way you like it, at the peak of its flavor and safe for eating! Here’s a fact sheet compiled by Oregon State University about meat thermometers which you’ll find more than handy.