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Berlinsbreads

Candy/Confectionery Thermometers

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I was making some Toffee and Brittle and I wondered if I can use my instant read thermometer instead of a candy thermometer? What is the difference (besides the obvious design) and why do recipes call specifically for the candy thermometer? If anyone knows, I would love to hear from you!


Edited by Smithy Correct title spelling (log)

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We used instand read thermometers (The kind with a probe on a cable separate from the display) for everything is school, including candy making. Worked fine, though we did get multiple probes since one or more would inevitably fail during the 6 months of the program.

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The small mechanical probe thermos (like you would use for a roast) aren't really made to handle candy temps. The oil/candy thermo is designed for the higher temps and the typical cooking vessels.

The digital ones have a range of operating temps. Check the manual. As long as you can get above 400 degrees, you should be good to go.

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God, I hope so. Decided to try my hand at candy making this week with a pecan almond brittle. Turned out brown, glossy, and crisp using our regular probe thermometer that we use for roasting, etc. The durability of the probes varies (we've had our current one for two years of weekly use) but I don't think I'd use a candy thermometer. Hard to read through the steam and boiling sugar, and no alarm to remind you that you've reached 260F and need to add the nuts. At least for this beginner, no thanks.

Walt

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I have also found that the average candy/fry thermometer gets out of calibration pretty quickly, and there is no way I know of to recalibrate them. For example, on Saturday, while making caramel, I did happen to be watching the temp because I wanted it light light light for a croquembouche, and my candy thermometer was almost 15ºF too cool! My instant read (held with tongs) seems much more accurate. I tossed the candy thermometer because at this point it's really useless.

The probe thermometers (with the digital timer, etc) are great if they can go high enough since you can set alarms and such.

Of course, mine at home doesn't have a clip to hold it to the pan. :angry:

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I have also found that the average candy/fry thermometer gets out of calibration pretty quickly, and there is no way I know of to recalibrate them.

I noticed that same problem when I used a "dial type" candy/fry thermometer. Mine was 25 degrees off. I tossed it and got the kind of candy thermometer that has the bulb on the bottom

and the liquid inside. I've found it to be dead-on accurate, and not only that, cheap!

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I've never used a candy thermometer. I use a digital -- the kind with the probe attached to a long metal band, used for monitoring the internal temp of meat cooking in the oven. Its always worked fine, but then I have no way of verifying its accuracy above 212F (I know its accurate at 212, because it reads 212 when water begins to boil).

I've thought about buying one of those nifty infrared thermometers, which on the low end cost about US $50-75. Anyone use/recommend this type of thermometer?

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This is the same type of thermometer my instructors used. I've been through three of them (Polder) and finally bought a Cooper because I learned that if the wire is exposed to a flame, it renders it useless. The Cooper has lasted a year without incident, and I've often wished for an infrared, but I find that being able to set (and reset) the alarm on the probe type so I can start another task is very helpful.

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I've never used a candy thermometer. I use a digital -- the kind with the probe attached to a long metal band, used for monitoring the internal temp of meat cooking in the oven.  Its always worked fine, but then I have no way of verifying its accuracy above 212F (I know its accurate at 212, because it reads 212 when water begins to boil).

I've thought about buying one of those nifty infrared thermometers, which on the low end cost about US $50-75. Anyone use/recommend this type of thermometer?

We use an infrared thermometer at work mainly to double check ganache temperatures before piping into chocolate shells. I don't know what the brand is that we use (the owner bought it in France). One thing you need to ensure is that the mixture is well stirred prior to taking a reading. The reading tends to be more of a surface temperature and there can be a 'big' variation in larger volume liquids. We haven't used it for sugar as we tend to go by sight/colour.


Edited by lemon curd (log)

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I can find out the infrared thermometer brand/model tomorrow at work and post it for anyone interested. It has held up to lots of use and has never caused us any problems.


Edited by lemon curd (log)

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I can find out the infrared thermometer brand/model tomorrow at work and post it for anyone interested.  It has held up to lots of use and has never caused us any problems.

Sure, I'd be interested. Since IR thermometers are expensive as far as tools go, I want to buy one that is going to last.

In general, though, I think there's just something inherently desirable about being able to take the temp of your ganache with a laser beam. I look forward to standing over 3 pounds of warm ganache and saying: 'Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?,' as I blast it with my infrared death-ray.


Edited by Patrick S (log)

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Here's a tip for you:

If you have a digital thermometer like this:

http://www.taylorusa.com/consumer/thermo/kitchenth.html

(second on list), you can use the plastic cover as a holder for the thermometer. Insert the 'pointy end' into the metal clip where there is a loop. You'll end up with the plastic thingy and the probe at a 90* angle and it works very well to keep your fingers away from the steam. I hope this makes sense.

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I have always used digital thermometers for all kitchen work, nowadays most are accurate to aroud 180-190 degrees C, which with the excaption of blackjack is as high as you want to go, I generally calibrate mine in boiling water to check its accuracy and as they are pretty cheap more then 5 degrees F then it gets binned.

As for infra red ones we use these at work for receiving goods and ensuring the delivery vans are as cold as they say they are, but don't think I would use one in the kitchen as its the core of something I am interested in and not the surface.

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And I just remembered - you can use a paper clip or binder clips - these things to hold what you need. You can also use a screen splatter cover, and sacrifice it for that use. Just jam the probe through the screen, and use the binder clip to hold it at the proper height....

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I am looking for a candy thermometer that is easy to read (it's for my grandma). Anyone have any suggestion? Alton Brown at one point listed his recommended thermometer but has since changed his website and I can no longer find it. So let me know what you would recommend!

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I like my Pyrex digital thermometer and timer combo. It has a probe which you put in the food item/syrup/oven etc. which reads the temperature. you can even set the thing to alert you when it reaches a certain temperature. the numbers are reasonably big and much easier to read than a standard thermometer.

here's a link:

digital thermometer

i hope this helps.

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I find Taylor to be great for candy making. The black print against metal is easy to read and there is a wide section for the candy making range so it is easy to tell where you are (hard ball, soft crack, etc.) I also have found it consistently accurate. That being said, Taylor is not made easy-to-read specifically and maybe there is a verson that is.

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Actually, I just found a post on Amazon saying that the Maverick CT-03 is the one Alton mentions. However, read through the reviews, as a number of people seem to have had problems.

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I have tried just about every type of candy/frying thermometer made within the last 30 years and I keep going back to the tried and true.

This one has always worked best for me and the numbers are easy to read.

Taylor makes quality thermometers that are accurate. I have tried the digitial ones for candy and they are often off 10-15 degrees, depending on the placement of the particular part of the probe that is sensitive to the heat.

This one also has the advantage of having a loop at the top onto which a string can be tied (and in my case, fastened to a hook over the stovetop so it hangs in the center of a large pot of jam, instead of off to the side where the temperature may vary considerably. I do the same thing with syrup for candying fruit.

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I cheaped out and bougth a Martha Stewart candy thermometer at Sears, which is where Martha sells her stuff in Canada. It's awesome...super easy to read and it's very accurate. I am feeling very smug for having spent only 6 bucks when the ones on the other side of the aisle were around $25 :smile:

Say what you will about Martha, but I have never bought a Martha product that was not as good or better than it's more expensive counterparts.

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i had some trouble recently with my digital thermometer while making the marshmallows from another thread...

so today, i took my taylor analog and my pyrex digtal and tested them both in ice-water (should read 32 degrees F) and boiling water (should read 212 degrees F)

neither thermometer was within 5 degrees accuracy, so i suggest regardless of what type of thermometer you're using: test it first, calibrate it if possible (which you can do with an insta-read) and if you can't calibrate it then remember what the difference is so when you're working with the thermometer you can adjust for the difference in the reading.

andiesenji: you make good points about where the thermometer is in the pot and also how deep it is immersed in the liquid. all of these things can cause "off" readings.

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What about using a "laser" point-and-shoot thermometer? Am I correct that these are not useful for testing the temperature of sugar syrups, caramel, etc., because they are actually measuring the surface temperature?

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What about using a "laser" point-and-shoot thermometer? Am I correct that these are not useful for testing the temperature of sugar syrups, caramel, etc., because they are actually measuring the surface temperature?

Correct! There is a fairly significant range of temperature in syrup. If you have something in the syrup that is a different color, you can actually see the convection currents welling up from the center and falling along the perimeter if the vessel is large enough. If you drop food coloring into a clear syrup, it is very obvious.

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The best thermo that i have ever used is the atkins temptech u780 unit its a bit pricey but it is nearly indestructable, ive had mine for five years , its been used every day in that time period, its been dropped thrown, frozen, boiled, and generaly beat up , i send it back to atkins once every year to have it re calibrated. I can highly recomend this product its survived restaurant daniel, restaurant aquavit , bernardus lodge, and providence restaurant and still keeps working just as it did the day i got it they have it online at jbprince.com

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this may be a dumb question... then again maybe not... so here goes...

do the infrared thermometers work on sugar syrups... like when you are making a buttercream, for example? is it truly just a matter of swirling the sugar rather than just measuring the bubbly surface?

this was the reason why i hesitated to buy one but then i wound up finding one for $25. my candy thermometer doesn't work unless i tilt the sugar to the side of my pot and even then i have to flip the thermometer upside down. :hmmm: a minor annoyance but i'll use any excuse to buy a new toy! :raz:

any other drawbacks i should know about?

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