Cooking thermometers can be one’s best friend in the kitchen or one’s worst nightmare depending on if they are properly working or not. Thermometers can let us know instead of guess when food is done to the proper temperature. Many different industries use thermometers in my opinion though food is the most important.
Keeping thermometers sanitized and calibrated correctly are important. There are two basic simple ways to check to see if the thermometer you are using works correctly.
Calibrating the Thermostat
Method 1: Place ice in a cup and add water. Place the thermometer in the ice water making sure the test lead is under water for two or three inches. This will allow the thermometer to give an accurate reading.
Leave the thermometer in for about a minute and then see if it reads 32 degrees this is the temperature of ice water. If not there should be a retaining nut on the bottom of the thermometer used for adjustment. When in doubt read the instructions for the particular thermostat that you may own. Turn this nut until the temperature goes down to 32 degrees.
The thermometer is now ready for use and the reading will be accurate.
Method 2: The boiling water method takes a little longer to do unless one already has boiling water on. The method is the same as before the only difference is the thermometer will be placed in boiling water and the reading in this case will be 212 degrees.
If the reading is not correct make adjustments where needed. If the thermometer is in constant use over the course of the day then it is a good idea to check calibration more than once. Most home cooks will not run into this problem.
Cleaning the Thermometer
Cleaning the thermometer between uses is one of the most important things one can do. This should be done frequently if the probe will be placed in more than one dish. One does not want to cause cross contamination due to an un-sanitized probe.
The easiest way to sanitize the probe on the thermometer is to simply make up a solution of bleach and water and soak it between uses in the cup of bleach then rinse it before it is used each time.
Another way of course would be to wash it each time before use with soap and water. This will work but it is much slower. The method using an alcohol swab will clean the probe but not sanitize it.
Hope these suggestions will be helpful for the home cook as well as the pro.