Whatever you are cooking, temperature is important. For foods like meat the right temperature is not only essential for the best-tasting meal, but also for food safety to ensure that you have killed any dangerous germs that are in the raw meat.
Candy is not difficult to make if you can easily maintain the right temperature, but it becomes a challenging guessing game without a thermometer. Below we’ll explain the meat thermometer vs candy thermometer.
Meat thermometers have a lower temperature range than candy thermometers. Most meat thermometers go up to 200 °F. A meat thermometer is composed of a metal pointed probe that can be inserted into the meat, connected to a dial that tells you the temperature.
Meat thermometers are useful for checking the temperature of any kind of meat, including beef, turkey, chicken, and fish. They are especially useful for gauging the temperature of large cuts that are not easily seen to be cooked, like roasts and whole fish.
A safe minimum internal temperature is essential to food safety, but you don’t want to go much higher or longer than is required to make meat safe, since you want to be left with a juicy cut and many people prefer medium rare or rare meat.
Meat thermometers must be calibrated before they can be accurately used. To calibrate your meat thermometer you can bring a pot of water to boil and then fill a glass or small bowl with ice covered with water.
Test your meat thermometer in the boiling water. If it doesn’t read 212 °F, adjust the small nut on the backside of the thermometer where the face meets the probe. Next, test the thermometer in the bowl of ice water. If it doesn’t read 32 °F, make another slight adjustment. Once fully adjusted it should be able to read within its entire range of temperatures.
Candy thermometers can accurately measure temperatures up to 400 °F. This thermometer is long and skinny with readings up and down the length of it so that you can simply stick the thermometer into the liquid and read the temperature. This thermometer is great for making hard or soft candies, from brittle, to taffy, fudge, or pralines. All candies are made by boiling sugar until it is at a particular stage from chewy to hard.
Since cooking to the right stage determines what your candy will be, knowing the exact temperature of the sugar is essential, which is why an accurate candy thermometer is so important.
Candy thermometers can also be useful when making a caramel sauce or sugar syrup or when deep frying with oil. Frying requires oil that is between 350 °F and 375 °F and it can be difficult to tell by looking at oil how hot it is. If the oil is too low, the food will absorb the oil and become greasy, but if the temperature is too hot the food will burn.
Meat Thermometer vs Candy Thermometer
You may think that you can get away with using one thermometer for both your meat and candy needs. While one thermometer may be useful for a range of temperature gauging, there is a reason that candy thermometers and meat thermometers are designed the way they are and neither will work as well for other temperature gauging as they do for their intended purpose.
The blunt end of a candy thermometer will not pierce meat so that you can get an internal meat temperature and a candy thermometer may not be as accurate at reading low temperature since most candies are cooked at higher temperatures.
A meat thermometer cannot measure high enough to be useful for most candies, and the short metal probe is not nearly as accurate at gauging the liquid as the long sensor of the candy thermometer is.
If you don’t want to buy multiple thermometers for your various needs, you may be able to get away with using a general use thermometer to measure meat. If you are buying a general-use thermometer that you intend to use for meat as well, make sure you choose a model with a pointed end and be careful to sanitize the thermometer between using it for meat and other things.
Candy requires a temperature that is too high for most general thermometers so you will need a candy thermometer in order to read the temperatures up to 400 °F that are necessary for making candy. Since most candy thermometers can read as low as 100 °F, you can use a candy thermometer for anything within this temperature range that is liquid or soft enough to have the thermometer submerged within it.