Temperature is vital when cooking. The temperature of the food helps ensure that it is safe to consume as the heat kills bacteria and pathogens present in food, especially raw meat. The right temperature also determines the texture of the meat. If you overcook it, it can be tough and rubbery in texture. Thermometers take the guesswork out of the cooking process and ensure that you have the right temperature for the food.
However, several types of thermometers are available, and you must find the right one for each specific type of cooking. This guide will walk you through two of those suited to different kinds of cooking: a digital thermometer and a candy thermometer. So, which one do you need, and how do you use them?
What is a Candy Thermometer?
A candy thermometer features a long and narrow design. This thermometer measures temperature at a high heat range and can go up to 400 F (204 C) in reading. Unfortunately, the boiling temperature of sugar, syrups, caramels, and other sauces is much higher than water. Therefore, you need a specific tool that can read extremely high temperatures.
The length of the candy thermometer allows it to sit in a deep pot of boiling sugar. You can use it to safely track the temperature of the boiling sugar without touching the hot substance.
Working with confectionary sugar, other syrups for desserts, and other sweet treats requires you to hit a specific temperature. If it’s too low, they won’t achieve the right consistency and take the shape you want for them. If it’s too high, the sugar could burn and give an unpleasant or bitter taste. The temperature of the candy solution also impacts its malleability. Many candy or sugary confections are used to create various models and shapes, which is why getting the right temperature is essential.
Accuracy is crucial when making candies and other types of desserts, which is why you need a specific tool for this. Candy thermometers can also be used for deep frying.
What is a Digital Thermometer?
A digital thermometer is any thermometer that comes with a temperature-sensing function. The sensor helps to provide a temperature reading when inserted into food, such as meat. The sensor will display the reading on a digital screen, which indicates the number. It is a convenient tool in the kitchen because the temperature reading is shown digitally, ensuring an accurate reading.
Aside from the ease of use and convenience, digital thermometers are excellent cooking tools because they give faster results. However, you need to wait a few seconds for it to display the temperature reading.
Most digital thermometers have an accuracy rating of ± 0.2°F or 0.1°C, so you can guarantee that the food is done if it hits the required internal temperature. In addition, added features and functionalities might be available for different models of thermometer, so you can choose the ones that will give you the features you need most.
Digital Thermometer vs. Candy Thermometer: What’s the Difference?
Now that you understand the individual functions of a digital thermometer and a candy thermometer let’s examine their differences.
The critical difference is that a digital thermometer is used for cooking meat and other food types. You insert the probe into the meat, and it displays the temperature reading for the meat’s internal temperature. On the other hand, a candy thermometer measures boiling sugar or any candy solution up to 400 F (204 C).
Another difference between the thermometer types is how you use them. A digital thermometer uses a probe or sensor inserted into the meat to read the temperature. You can find various models with different functionalities, such as oven-safe ones inserted into the meat as it cooks in the oven. Maximizing the functionalities of a digital thermometer entails choosing the right type of thermometer.
On the other hand, a candy thermometer is placed in an upright position in the pot of boiling sugar. The thermometer stays in the pot as it cooks, allowing you to monitor the rise of the temperature as you cook. When used for deep frying, you use the same method of placing the thermometer into the pot of oil until it reaches the ideal cooking temperature.
In summary, here are the differences between a candy thermometer and a digital meat thermometer:
- Candy thermometers have a longer design, allowing them to safely soak in hot and boiling oil or sugar solutions.
- Candy thermometers have a higher heat and temperature range. They can read up to 400 F (204 C), while most digital meat thermometers can only read up to 200 F (93 C).
- Candy thermometers have a rounded base, while digital thermometers have a pointy base, which allows you to insert them into a thick cut of meat.
Tips When Using a Candy Thermometer
If you invest in a candy thermometer, it pays to know how to use it to maximize results and ensure it lasts a long time.
- Select the correct type of candy thermometer. You can find a classic style with an analog design, which is made with a glass pipe and stainless steel metal frame. You can also find ones made from plain, tempered glass. Digital candy thermometers are also available nowadays.
- Check the accuracy rating of the candy thermometer. Getting the right temperature is critical when making desserts. Even when you are a degree off the recommended temperature, it could ruin an entire batch of candy or syrup. So make sure to test your thermometer before using it to ensure its reading accuracy.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes. Please do not wash your thermometer with cold water immediately after putting it in a hot sugar mixture. The extreme and immediate temperature change could damage the thermometer.
The Bottom Line
A digital thermometer and candy thermometer have specific functions and uses in the kitchen. You need both if you cook meat and make sugary confections. Take time to learn the proper way of using each type of thermometer so that you can maximize their use.