To make sure your meat thermometer works right, it’s important to set it up correctly. This helps you cook meat safely and just how you like it.
The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service says using a food thermometer is the only true way to know if your meat is cooked enough to be safe.
Setting your thermometer right also helps you cook steaks and chops to the perfect level for you. So how to calibrate your meat thermometer? Let’s go.
How to check the accuracy of your meat thermometer?
You should regularly check and adjust your thermometer. There are two easy ways to set up your food thermometer at home: using boiling water or freezing water. You just need some basic tools and water for this.
1. Ice water Test
- Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in cold water.
- Put the thermometer in the ice water for 30 seconds. Make sure it doesn’t touch the glass’s sides or bottom.
- If your thermometer has a dial, wait 1-2 minutes for it to adjust to the right temperature.
- If it shows 32°F, it’s working right and you can use it.
2. Boiling water test
- Start by boiling a lot of water in a saucepan. Keep the heat on during the test so the temperature stays the same.
- Put the thermometer’s probe into the middle of the boiling water, about two inches deep. Hold it there for 30 seconds. Use a dish towel or potholder to keep your hand safe from the steam.
- Gently stir the water with the thermometer. Make sure the thermometer doesn’t touch the pan’s bottom or sides, as this can mess up the calibration.
- The thermometer should read 212˚F (100˚C), which is water’s boiling point. Remember, at high places, water boils at a lower temperature.
- If it doesn’t show the right temperature, press the reset button until it does.
These two methods help you check if your thermometer is accurate and adjust it if it’s not. And then let’s dive into how to calibrate your meat thermometer easily.
Calibration & Adjustment
Adjust your thermometer so it’s right within 2°f (1°c). If it’s more off than that after you test it, you need to change it.
If you can’t make an off-thermometer right, you should get a new one. Your business could get in trouble for using the wrong thermometer.
Each thermometer is different, so it’s best to look at the manual it came with to learn how to set it right. Here are some general steps for three common kinds of thermometers:
1. Dial thermometers
- If you’re using a dial thermometer and it’s not showing 32°F correctly, flip it over and change the setting by turning the nut with pliers.
- Set it up again to make sure it’s right before you use it.
2. Digital thermometers
- Digital thermometers are harder because you can’t change their settings.
- But, you can remember the error and add or subtract it from the temperature you want when cooking. Also, keep checking the thermometer often.
3. Wireless meat thermometers
- For wireless meat thermometers, regularly check for software updates and battery life, as these can affect accuracy.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for calibration, if available. If not, use the standard ice water and boiling water tests to check accuracy.
Need to recalibrate your meat thermometer often
Make sure to set your food thermometer right often. This helps you cook and serve food safely. Always check your thermometer to keep it accurate.
How often you set it right depends on what kind of thermometer you have and how you use it. Here are some tips for when to set your thermometer:
- Set bimetal thermometers right before every shift.
- Set digital thermometers every week or month.
- Always set new thermometers or ones that have been dropped.
- It’s good to set it after checking very hot or cold temperatures.
- For the best way, follow the instructions from the maker.
Tips for keeping your thermometer more accurate
If your digital meat thermometer shows the right temperature in both tests, you should clean and sterilize it next. Wash the thermometer with warm, soapy water or clean it with an alcohol swab before and after using it in food. This is crucial to prevent food contamination and food-borne diseases.
If the meat you tested isn’t fully cooked, the thermometer’s probe might have bacteria on it. Bacteria like salmonella can move from one place to another. This means they could get back onto the meat, even after it’s fully cooked, which can be dangerous.
Most digital meat thermometers, especially “instant-read” ones, have sensitive electronic probes. They need careful cleaning. Wash and dry the thermometer gently before sanitizing it.
To remove hard stains like smoke, you can use soap or cooking spray. Alcohol wipes are good for quick cleaning. If you use them, let the probes air dry before using them again.
If you prefer not to use chemicals, white vinegar is a good alternative. Just dampen a cotton pad or towel with vinegar and gently wipe the probe.
Now you know how to calibrate a meat thermometer! For more tips on meat thermometers, look into our How To Use A Meat Thermometer Properly.