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chocophile

Infrared/Laser Thermometers

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I was at Bridge Kitchenware earlier this week replacing a saute pan that got dinged in shipment and I noticed some beautiful copper pans made specifically for sugar work. They are a lot cheaper than I thought (and much heavier), so I am going to treat myself to a large one when I move back in to my house after a nine-month renovation project. I plan to do a lot more experimenting with caramels of various sorts.

Question: I have an old-style bulb candy thermometer and I wonder if that's the best kind to use or whether a surface-read thermometer might be better. I've always wanted an excuse to purchase one of those digital infrared thermometers and I wonder if this is the right time.

Thanks in advance,

:Clay


Clay Gordon

president, pureorigin

editor/publisher www.chocophile.com

founder, New World Chocolate Society

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Surface-read thermometers tend to be unreliable when attempting to measure boiling liquids.

I'd go with a sturdy brass candy thermometer, with the calibrations etched on to the backing, not just printed on (otherwise they wear off eventually).

Out of interest, how much are you paying for the pot?


Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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I've experimented with 3 kinds of thermometers in candy making. I've used a dial-type thermometer, a digital thermometer with a probe, and a good old fashioned bulb thermometer.

The dial type and the digital, while being much easier to read, were inaccurate enough that I could tell by my finished product they were off by maybe 5-10 degrees (or more). The bulb

thermometer has been the most reliable and accurate I have found. That's kind of good news, since they're pretty cheap and easy to replace, but sort of a bummer, because they're not really "reader friendly".

But since accuracy is most important, I'll give up on the easy-read for now! :wink:

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I've never owned a surface read thermo. but as I understand it can be off in temp. because your getting the top surface temp. and not necessarily what's further down in your pot. Caramel continues to cook after the flame is turned off. The residual heat can turn a light colored caramel into a dark caramel in a minute. You have to know when to stop cooking you caramel so after the residual heat has worn off, you've got the right degree of doneness. This would be exactly like cooking a steak or a roast. They don't stop coming up the second you take the heat off them.

The thing about making caramel is, it isn't about cooking the sugar to the caramel stage. Caramel happens at such a high heat that the next step is burned black colored sugar. Therefore to make caramel you absolutely don't need a thermometer at all. Plain sugar cooked to caramel cools off to be hard, very darn hard. So the thing your looking to achieve is how to get the caramel to the texture, softness that you want. That softness is determined by how much of what you add to the cooked sugar, completely......no other factor.

So for a caramel sauce you will add more liquids, be it water or cream then one would add to create a thicker denser caramel like a candy center. You have to find the right recipe/proportions for what texture your trying to achieve with your caramel. That is the "trick' to making caramels. You don't need a good thermometer or any thermometer at all, to make caramel.

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I've never owned a surface read thermo. but as I understand it can be off in temp. because your getting the top surface temp. and not necessarily what's further down in your pot. Caramel continues to cook after the flame is turned off. The residual heat can turn a light colored caramel into a dark caramel in a minute. You have to know when to stop cooking you caramel so after the residual heat has worn off, you've got the right degree of doneness. This would be exactly like cooking a steak or a roast. They don't stop coming up the second you take the heat off them.

What I do, and I guess most other people do too, is turn the heat way down as I get close to the temp I want to stop at, which slows the rate at which the temp increases. Then, right when I hit the temp I want to stop at, I add my cream or butter, and that basically stops the temperature rise immediately.


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Surface-read thermometers tend to be unreliable when attempting to measure boiling liquids.

Out of interest, how much are you paying for the pot?

C- Bear:

Thanks - that's what I thought, just not sure how wide the temperature variation was.

It's a 5 quart pot, solid copper (the inner surface is not tinned), $102.

:Clay


Clay Gordon

president, pureorigin

editor/publisher www.chocophile.com

founder, New World Chocolate Society

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So the thing your looking to achieve is how to get the caramel to the texture, softness that you want. That softness is determined by how much of what you add to the cooked sugar, completely......no other factor.

So for a caramel sauce you will add more liquids, be it water or cream then one would add to create a thicker denser caramel like a candy center. You have to find the right recipe/proportions for what texture your trying to achieve with your caramel. That is the "trick' to making caramels. You don't need a good thermometer or any thermometer at all, to make caramel.

Wendy, I sort of knew all this, but I am a belt and suspenders kind of guy until I have the experience to eyeball it: knowing temps and times is part of my process, it forces me to pay attention in a different way to what I am doing.

I'll let everyone know how it all works out.

:Clay


Clay Gordon

president, pureorigin

editor/publisher www.chocophile.com

founder, New World Chocolate Society

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so i've been looking at these mini non-contact thermometers. i like the idea of them for a couple reasons. (sadly, the first is that the read-out is pretty BIG, and i have just had a "zero" birthday, and can't see so good no more). also, i like the clean factor--that i don't have to worry about the probe harboring bacteria if some one forgets to wipe it down after poking it into a roasting chicken.

but therein lies my confusion....if it is taking the surface temperature (which is my understanding), does that help me at all with internal temps, say of roast pork loin? cuz, mainly, that's what i need to take the temperature of, not the surface temp of soup or chocolate.

thank you for your patience with a tragically right-brained individual. your insight is appreciated.


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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They are for measuring the surface temperature of a pan or skillet before the food is added.

They will not measure internal temperature of meat or fowl.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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now, why didn't i just PM you directly, like i thought of doing? thank you, andiesenji, goddess of cookery gadgetry and tools! when they come up with one that can remotely measure internal temperature, will you let me know? :wub:


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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now, why didn't i just PM you directly, like i thought of doing? thank you, andiesenji, goddess of cookery gadgetry and tools! when they come up with one that can remotely measure internal temperature, will you let me know? :wub:

You can get one that is placed in the meat or whatever, that has a remote device that you can even wear around your neck and it will beep them the correct temp is reached.

Since you are not inserting and removing the probe, you do not have to worry about contamination.

Maverick remote meat thermometer.

Sharper Image version.

Various ones available at Amazon

When I was in Target last week, they had a sale on the Weber for 35.00.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I have the Maverick version and I love it. The remote doesn't always work, but the part connected to the probe has always been accurate. (It seems like sometimes the remote stops transmitting - it just gets stuck at a temperature and stops rising). It's especially good for BBQ.

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i had a version made by pyrex that just gave up the ghost (on thanksgiving...5 minutes after the turkey was in the oven, the darn thing was registering 160 degrees....) might try a more pricey model, i guess.


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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I have the Maverick version and I love it.  The remote doesn't always work, but the part connected to the probe has always been accurate.  (It seems like sometimes the remote stops transmitting - it just gets stuck at a temperature and stops rising).  It's especially good for BBQ.

Have you read the article in andie's link? What you describe sounds like what that reviewer said. He chalked it up to the 100' transmitter range being reduced by obstructions, doorframes, things like that. Is there any chance that's what's happening with you? I ask because the Maverick looks pretty darned interesting and I'd like to know more about just how well it works.

chezcherie, several of andie's links show remote sensing thermometers with generously-sized displays. You may just be in business!


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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The accuracy of the cooper model 461 I have is 2º F, those are both 3º F. Whether that makes a huge difference I don't know. As usual with chocolate I start looking at the temperature when it starts to 'look' right.

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Unfortunately not with cooking yet. It's fun to point and shoot at my inflammed vs normal knee, my cold patio table, the incandescent light bulb, etc.

At some point, I'll make a blini recipe from The French Laundry Cookbook which calls for cooking on a 360 degree griddle.

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Dang, I didn't even think of all the fun non-food applications with one of those things...... brake pads, lightbulbs, the temperature at which your tongue stops sticking to the flagpole....

Woot.com has these come up for sale every once in a while for around $30, gonna have to go ahead and get one.....

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Woot.com has these come up for sale every once in a while for around $30, gonna have to go ahead and get one.....

Check your local Bed Bath & Beyond- I picked up a Bonjour Culinary Laser Thermometer on clearance for $29.99, marked down several times from its original price of $89.90, just like this one from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/BonJour-Culinary-Las.../dp/B0001K18B4/

Even better, I used a 20% off coupon to bring it down to $23.99 :wink: I've seen them at a couple BB&B stores in different cities, usually in the kitchen gadget section, on the shelf way back in the corner, almost always nearly on the floor or practically hidden under other misc kitchen gadgets.

I keep it out, stored right under my microwave, which sits in an exhaust/light unit for the stove. Having it handy right where all the cooking goes on makes it easy to grab to check the temp of a pan or waffle iron or even sugar syrup when I make marshmallows. I've gotten to the point with my marshmallows where I pretty much don't need to use a candy thermometer, which I only put in for the last couple of minutes when its really boiling. One thing the laser thermometer is good for is to double check the accuracy of other thermometers in a jiffy- it let me know one of my candy thermometers was way off at sugar temps, even though it pretty accurate when I tested it in boiling water.

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I use mine to check temps of a pan and have used it to check the temp of oil when frying but when heating water for making coffee with my Aeropress I found that when checking the temp of water in a cup that my immersion thermoprobe was much more accurate and my laser IR thermometer reads much lower. Maybe because you are checking only the surface temperature.

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I like my Cooper foodservice ones - 461 was my first and favorite model - new model is 462 I think. I bought some to sell at classes, cause if people see one - they want one!

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