When it comes to modern cooking and baking, it is certainly true that you need the right tools for the job.
One such example is a candy thermometer – something that is essential for making all kinds of confectionery in the right way.
However, with this comes the need for maintenance and the knowledge that everything is working correctly.
But this begs the question: how can you ensure your candy thermometer is accurate, and what are the signs that something is not right?
What Is A Candy Thermometer?
Similar in principle to the thermometers used in regular cooking, a candy thermometer serves the same function – however, it is designed to handle higher temperatures created when melting sugar.
What Are They Used For?
As their name suggests, candy thermometers are used for making confectionery – namely, ensuring that the molten sugar has reached a sufficient temperature and ensuring that it is not over-boiled or ruined from cooking.
When Were They Introduced?
While used by professional cake makers for decades prior, the candy thermometer was first introduced for public use just after World War One as a means of allowing homeowners to make their own confectionery and baked goods from home.
Prior to that, bakers would have to do the water test – a process wherein syrup is placed into cold water to assess its temperature. So if you are left wondering, ‘how do you know when your fudge is done without a thermometer‘, then check out our information article.
What Types Are There?
There are a couple of different candy thermometers on the market – namely a liquid thermometer, coiled spring or dialled thermometers that rely on a bimetallic strip, and digital thermometers, which are the most common.
How Much Heat Can They Actually Handle?
Generally speaking, candy thermometers are designed to handle higher temperatures of roughly 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) – which makes them useful for taking the temperature readings of molten sugar when making confectionery.
How To Ensure Accuracy?
Of course, one of the most important things about thermometers is that they need to remain accurate.
Especially with those used on meat and dairy products, there is a distinct need for accurate readings to be obtained – otherwise, illness and poor-tasting food could be the result.
However, there are several ways to make sure the thermometer is accurate and fit for use.
The main way to ensure that your candy thermometer is accurate is to test it.
You can do this with either ice water or boiling water, and this is a handy test to use when trying to find accuracy due to the fact that we scientifically know that boiling water is 100 degrees and above, while freezing water is 0 degrees and below.
While this might not give you an indication down to the last degree, it does give you an idea as to whether your thermometer is within the right ballpark.
If your thermometer is electronic, then you will need to calibrate it properly to ensure that it is giving accurate readings.
For this, you should refer to the specific instructions that come with your thermometer, and then you can calibrate it properly to ensure that your readings are completely accurate.
You should also make sure that you are placing the thermometer into the food properly during use.
It can be a common occurrence for people to shove it in too far, where it then touches the bottom of the dish and doesn’t get a proper reading of the food.
This is why you should always put the thermometer tip into the middle of the food and make sure you are not going too deep.
You should always ensure that the thermometer also goes through the center of the product you are testing, as this is the area that can commonly be missed (especially with meat).
Take Your Time
It is also important for you to take the proper amount of time during probing and to ensure that you are giving the thermometer the right amount of time necessary to reach the temperature.
Just because the needle goes above the minimally acceptable temperature doesn’t mean that you should then take it out. Allow the device to do its job.
Upkeep & Maintenance
As with any tool, you need to make sure that you are properly taking care of your candy thermometer both during and in between uses.
This means ensuring that it is clean of any foodstuffs, liquids, and other things that could affect the final readings and that you are storing it properly, away from hot and cold appliances that could otherwise affect the accuracy.
Which Type Of Thermometer Is Most Accurate?
While this will certainly depend on the quality of the thermometer and how well they have been maintained, the general consensus is that digital thermometers are the most accurate.
The digital thermometer is also generally quicker than the regular thermometers used in the past and ensures that readings can be obtained far quicker.
When cooking confectionery, this is especially important, as sugar is easily burned if proper care is not taken.
This is because the digital thermometer does not require a manual dial to measure the proper temperature – instead relying on the computerized sensors inside the device – and as such, offers quicker temperature readings.
For the latest lowdown of the best candy thermometers on the market, take a look at our review guide.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about candy thermometers and the best ways to ensure that they are giving accurate readings.
It is certainly true that cooking requires the right tools for the job – and there have never been so many options for those looking to cook and bake at home.
However, without proper maintenance and understanding of how they work, you are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment in the kitchen.
So if you want to check the accuracy of your candy thermometer, then be sure to follow these handy steps. Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!
To learn more about the best tools to have in your kitchen, read our handy knowledge guides here: