Calibrating your thermometer–the cheap way


I don’t even know if my thermometer has a calibration option on it. But, no matter. I’ve got better things to spend my money on than a calibration for a thermometer. :D Such as other cool kitchen toys.

Having the right temperature is so important. If you’re temp is over-calcuating (reading too high), then you are pulling meat off the heat before it is done, and risking illness from all sorts of nasty organisms. If the thermometer is reading low, then that could explain many drastic problems in the kitchen, as well, including over-done candy, over-cooked meats, etc.

So, what’s the cheapie way to fix it? Easy. All cook books are written with a few basic facts, including the fact that water boils at 212º F. For the sake of this post, it doesn’t matter at what sea level you live. Just got with me on this. Simply bring some water to a full boil on your stove, stick your thermometer in, and wait at least ten seconds. The number upon which it settles is the boiling temp for water for your sea level, according to your thermometer (calibrated or not), just because you need a stable number. If it is over so many degrees, you add that number to your goal end temperature of what you’re making; if it us under so many degrees, vice versa.

In my case, even though I am near sea level, my thermometer shows 207º when my water is boiling. Therefore, while making marshmallows today, I should pull the mixture off at 240º (according to the recipe). Well, seeing as my thermometer is 5 degrees under, I set my thermometer to beep at 235º (which is literally 240º), so that it didn’t over-cook. Also, I made some bread this afternoon, for which I bring my water to 110º before adding to my dough; however, I pulled the water at 105º (110º literally) and it was the perfect temp.

I highly suggest doing this test before you use your thermometer for each temperature-sensitive thing you make. Thermometers are finicky, at best! In the end, if perfection is your main goal (uh, and if you’ve read enough of my posts, you know that’s my goal), then taking a few minutes to test your thermometer before each use is a very small use of your time, for a very large reward!

As always, Happy Days in the Kitchen! :D

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