A meat thermometer or cooking thermometer is a thermometer used to measure the internal temperature of meat, especially roasts and steaks, and other cooked foods. The degree of "doneness" of meat or bread correlates closely with the internal temperature, so that a thermometer reading indicates when it is cooked as desired. When cooking, food should always be cooked so that the interior reaches a temperature sufficient, that in the case of meat is enough to kill pathogens that may cause foodborne illness or, in the case of bread, that is done baking; the thermometer helps to ensure this.
What types of hygrometers are there?
1. Instant-Read Thermometer
The instant-read thermometer is a probe thermometer, available in both different digital styles, that allows a cook to take instant temperature readings of a food. They're great for testing the doneness of a piece of meat or poultry while it cooks, but they're not meant to be left in during cooking. You simply insert the probe into the food, check the temperature, and then remove it.
Instant-read thermometers also can be used to measure the temperature of hot food in a steam tray or chafing dish, as well as cold items in a salad bar, and to measure how quickly a soup or sauce is cooling (to ensure that it does not spend excessive time in the temperature danger zone).
2. Meat Thermometer
A meat thermometer is similar to an instant-read, but it sports a larger LCD/LED to make them easier to read. The main difference is that unlike an instant-read thermometer, a meat thermometer is inserted into a joint of meat or a whole chicken (or turkey), where it remains throughout the roasting process. To monitor the temperature, you simply peek at the LCD/LED.
Digital versions are more sophisticated. They can be programmed to emit a beep to signal that your desired target temperature has been reached. In this case, the probe is situated at the end of a long, oven-proof wire that is attached to the unit itself, which can usually be fixed to the outside of the oven with a magnet.
You can even leave the probe in the meat after you take it out of the oven, to monitor the meat's temperature while you rest it.
3. Candy and Deep-Fry Thermometer
Candy and deep-frying thermometers are made of glass and are used for measuring much hotter temperatures.
Whereas meat and poultry might be cooked anywhere from 130 F to 175 F, candy involves cooking sugar as high as 300 F, and deep-frying requires oil to be 375 F and hotter.
You can get separate candy and deep-frying thermometers, but usually, they are combined, and they work fine for the home cook. Typically, they have a clip that you can use to secure the thermometer to the lip of your pot, along with a guide showing the temperature levels for each food.
Why it matters: In confectionary, your sugar needs to hit just the right temperature, neither too cool nor too hot, to achieve the proper consistency for the type of candy you're making. Similarly, depending on what you're frying and what type of oil you're using, if it's too cool the item can turn out greasy, and if it's too hot the oil can start to smoke and even ignite.