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Old 08-03-2014, 04:34 AM   #1
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Angry I hate thermometers, they are liars and backstabbers

So, thermometers are now added to the list of "things Jess is not allowed to use without adult supervision," others being sharp things, matches, and electrician's scissors (which kind of fall under sharp things but get their own cattegory for reasons I won't get into right now). But, I mean, the thermometer started it. I was perfectly willing to get al8ng with it. Hmmph. It ended it too, though, when it flipped out of the pan and splashed boiling, liquid sugar on my finger. But hey, at least when I ran my finger under cold water the sugar hardened right away and fell right off instead of sticking.

That's the problem though. All of the recipes I looked at said that for hard candy the sugar and water solution should reach 300° F. When the thermometer hit about 180° (it was marked in 50's) I noticed the amount of steam coming off the solution had suddenly reduced to barely visible. I tested a drop in water and it was very chewy and starting to solidify. I hadn't looked up temperatures for other stages but this seemed off to me. Very shortly after that I wasn't seeing steam anymore. Not even a little. The thermometer read about 230°/240°. I tested and the very slow, tiny drip that came off the spoon hardened immediately. I thought about taking the candy off the burner at that point but hesitated for just a few seconds because the thermometer said it wasn't time yet. And just like that, in those few seconds, the liquid candy started to turn brown. I cursed the thermometer as I quikly removed the pan from the heat and that's when the devilish thing turned on me, breaking free of the clip and injuring me as mentioned above.

So why the blanket statement in the title that thermometers are liars and backstabers? Why do I not just write this one off as a one off defect and give the rest of thermometers the benifit of the doubt? Because I've never owned an acurate thermometer. Not one! Digital, analog, candy, oven, meat, multi-purpose, doesn't matter. None of them have been accurate. And it's not like using a thermometer requires genius intelligence levels. I know about proper placement and all. I know that letting it tumble about recklessly can ruin the calibration. I know not to leave them in the hot oven in a turkey unless it is specifically rated for such use. I know to keep it clean and not let water get into the face of it. So just in case anyone doubted it before, please know now that yes, I do indeed know how to use a thermometer.

What I'm wondering about is, is this just me or do others have problems with thermometer accuracy? At this point I've pretty much decided to ditch the stupid things. My instincts serve me way better than any thermometer has. I just wonder if I'm going to run across something where I really do need exact enough temps to require a thermometer.

Anyone have any thoughts, suggestions, thermometers that are actually accurate?

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Old 08-03-2014, 05:15 AM   #2
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I've always had more problems with the bathroom scale than I've had with thermometers.

I have an instant read thermometer from the Pampered Chef, the cheapest thing I could buy when a friend cornered me years ago, that works great. I also have a candy/deep frying thermometer in a glass tube from Maid of Honor that works fine. That one is so old it is referred to as a vintage thermometer!

I learned to roast meat by poking it with my finger, the smell and the sound of the crackling coming from the oven. I learned to fry things by watching the oil shimmer, smoke or by splattering a few drops of water into the grease and seeing how violent the reaction was. I learned to make candy by looking at the size of the bubbles that the boiling liquid was making, the sound of the plop,plop, seeing if the liquid coming off a spoon spun a thread and dropping a sample into cold water and to see if it hardened etc...

I don't cook much anymore so I use the thermometers to reassure me that I'm on the right track. Years ago when I cooked all the time I didn't bother with them at all, go figure!
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Old 08-03-2014, 05:54 AM   #3
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Quote:
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I've always had more problems with the bathroom scale than I've had with thermometers.
I have the same problem and I have to say it's not the accuracy of the scale.

I haven't had problems with accuracy but I say to trust your instincts and use the thermometers as guideline to tell you when you're getting close.
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Old 08-03-2014, 07:26 AM   #4
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We threw that dang bathroom scale away years ago!

Inaccuracy is inherent with cheap. Perfect examples are the standard 2-1/2", analog pressure gauges used by most of the recreational diving industry for air/gas filling stations. They can be off as much as 25% of the scale! Now use a digital gauge in that size and the accuracy drops to .5%. Of course, the difference in price is $32.00 vs $700.00.
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:09 AM   #5
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Therma Pen. Worth every penny.
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:17 AM   #6
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My thermometers are good between 32' F and 212'F. at least. Only the digital one, and the candy thermometer in the glass tube are trustworthy. The other analog dial thermometers are very inaccurate.

I would have a hard time making that super juicy turkey without my trusty thermometer, as I need to know when the meat reaches 160' F. Any more than that and the bird starts drying out.

I do have to say though, that my candy thermometer has never attacked me. I love the way you tell your tale. You should be a writer for television sitcoms (intelligent ones).

Seeeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:50 AM   #7
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My mother didn't have any thermometers and she could tell the temperature of the oven just by sticking her hand in it. I learned most of my cooking skills from her and started my married life without any thermometers. I hate digital. They never stay properly calibrated. So I get the old fashion ones that are analog. I can even read the analog ones easier. I had a digital bath scale, that if you moved it for just five inches to a new location, it would show you had gained or lost ten pounds. With analog, you don't have any batteries that wear out.
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Old 08-03-2014, 09:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
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I had a digital bath scale, that if you moved it for just five inches to a new location, it would show you had gained or lost ten pounds.
That would be a good thing if it only showed a loss.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Longwind Of The North View Post
I do have to say though, that my candy thermometer has never attacked me. I love the way you tell your tale. You should be a writer for television sitcoms (intelligent ones).

Seeeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

2 things Chief,
Do you have any tips on training thermometers to be gentle and not attack thermometers?

And is there such a thing as a intelligent sitcom?
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Old 08-03-2014, 11:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
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...
And is there such a thing as a intelligent sitcom?
Barney Miller and WKRP in Cincinnati come to mind. Oh yeah, Big Bang Theory.
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Old 08-03-2014, 11:24 AM   #10
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I don't have problems with my thermometers, but I don't make candy. My oven came with a probe thermometer - you can set the target temperature and the oven will ding when it's done. I love that I also have a handheld digital thermometer - I love that, too. I had to use a digital one in culinary school and it was a pain to read.
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