The Probe Thermometer – All You Need to Know

Controlling internal food temperatures is important when cooking, reheating or thawing foods to ensure it is safe to eat. Probe thermometers are easy tools which may monitor these internal temperatures. You must, however, use them right for them to work properly.

To use a probe thermometer, one must insert the stem of the thermometer into the thickest part of the food. If the food has an even thickness all around, then one may insert the thermometer in the centre of the food. Also, any liquids must be evenly distributed before the internal temperature is read, in order to ensure an accurate reading. For all foods, wait at least 15 seconds before removing the stem.

Although using the thermometer is fairly simple, one must also know how to recalibrate it to ensure the thermometer is picking up the correct temperature. This needs to be done regularly, at a minimum: before the first use, once a month, when the thermometer is exposed to extreme changes in temperature and if it has been dropped.

There are various methods of recalibration, but the most common and recommended method is the ice bath method. This method is pretty self explanatory: you fill a cup with ice water, which will allow the water temperature to read at 0°C (32°F). You then place the stem of the thermometer into the ice water, while making sure it does not touch the sides or bottom of the cup. To be properly calibrated, the thermometer must read 0°C (32°F), so if there is a nut, turn it until it does.

There are variations when it comes to thermometer types and brands so make sure to read instructions carefully. For example, digital thermometers or infrared thermometers may not even be able to be recalibrated like regular thermometers. Infrared thermometers, in truth, are not recommended for they do not penetrate the food at the thickest part.

Learn more about probe thermometers and why they are useful in our food handlers certificate course or other food safety courses.