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Take the guesswork out of cooking with a professional thermometer. From cooking the perfect steak to tempering chocolate, read on to find out how to put yours to good use…

Sweet, sweet success

A professional catering thermometer is essential when working with sugar to make confectionary. The slightest temperature variance can make the difference between spot-on sweets and an inedible mess. Here are some useful applications…

  1. Marshmallows, especially gourmet marshmallows, are very on-trend. For the best results, use a thermometer to test the temperature of your sugar syrup: once it reaches 127°C, take it off the heat and leave it to cool down a bit before gently adding your egg whites and gelatine. We like this recipe for rose petal marshmallows.
  2. If you’re tempering chocolate, keeping a watchful eye on the temperature at all stages of the process is key. Use a spatula thermometer to gently stir the chocolate in the bain marie as it melts and scoop away all your mixture from the bowl.
  3. Italian merengue is made by combining a hot sugar syrup (rather than granulated sugar) with egg white. Some claim the results are more reliable, but you’ll need to get your thermometer out. Start mixing the whisked egg white in when the syrup reaches 121°C. Keep whisking the mixture until it reaches 115°C.
  4. Use a specialist jam thermometer when cooking down fruit for jam to take out the guesswork. Your fruit should reach 105ºC for it to set properly.

Mouth-watering meat

When it comes to making sure your turkey’s just right at Christmas or cooking a steak exactly how it’s been requested, a meat thermometer can make your job a lot easier. Here are some tips for using one:

  1. When testing poultry, make sure the thermometer penetrates all the flesh, but don’t push it down to the bone. The thigh’s a good part of the meat to insert the thermometer into. And while Heston Blumenthal may think 60°C is the ideal temperate for a juicy bird, to make sure it’s safe to eat (and complies with health and safety regulations) look for a reading of at least 75°C.
  2. Choose an instant read thermometer so you can take the meat out of the oven when you think it might be ready to test it. If it’s not hot enough, keep checking every 5 minutes until you get the reading you’re after.
  3. After the prefect steak? A rare steak will be around 63°C while a well done steak will be about 77°C.
  4. American chefs love to cook things low and slow. And it’s easy to see why. Slow-cooked stews are a great way of tenderising meat until it's meltingly soft and making use of cheaper cuts. Now for the science bit: at 55°C the collagen in meat starts to soften, and this is around the temperature your meat should stay when slow cooking it. If it’s allowed to reach up to 70°C or higher, you’ll be left with dry, grey and chewy meat.

Caring for your thermometer

It’s important to test your thermometer to make sure it’s giving you an accurate reading. The easiest way is to take the temperature of boiling water — the thermometer should read 100ºC. A word of caution: just dip the thermometer gently into the water, rather than plunging it in, or the heat could break it. Hand wash it with a gentle detergent, and always have a back-up so you don’t get caught out in the middle of service if yours breaks.

Using a thermometer properly is a major part of being compliant with health and safety laws. Remember to sanitise your thermometer with antibacterial wipes when you’re dealing with meat to avoid cross contamination. Always give it a wipe after each use, however mad things get in the kitchen.

What do you use your thermometer for? Why not let us know by leaving a comment below or tweet us your photos @BunzlLockhart?


Comments

Lockhart Catering on 20 November 2013 5:08 AM

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