A Beginner’s Guide to Temperature-Based Cooking
Both the Thermapen Professional and Thermapen Classic are easy to use, highly accurate and reliable temperature instruments. However, it’s important to understand the relationship between food and temperature in order to get the correct results from your thermometer.
Why cook by temperature?
Cooking by time, sight or touch is an unreliable and inaccurate method of cooking that leaves room for uncertainty and error. Using temperature to determine if your food is done will:
• Produce perfectly cooked food every time
• Reduce the risk of food poisoning
• Prevent food from being overcooked and dry
• Save time
• Reduce waste
• Eliminate stress and guesswork
• Increase confidence and enthusiasm around cooking
How temperature affects food
When food is cooked, the outside cooks quicker than the inside, because the heat has less distance to travel. Similarly, when food is cooled, the outside cools quicker than the inside. Temperature always affects the outside of the food before the centre, and this means that although some of the food may be a safe temperature, some of it may not be. Learning how to correctly take a temperature means knowing that a food is entirely, not partially, safe to eat.
When is temperature critical to food
The main temperature critical points that your Thermapen can be used for are thawing, cooking, cooling, storing and reheating. At all of these points there are temperature guidelines that foods must be within in order for them to be safe for consumption.
Thawing frozen food: Must be thawed thoroughly in the fridge until the core temperature is between -1 and 4°C.
Cooling cooked food: Must be quickly cooled from 55°C to 20°C throughout within two hours before refrigerating or freezing.
Storing cooked food: Must be kept below 8°C or above 63°C and should not be left out for more than two hours.
Reheating cooked food: Must be reheated until 75°C throughout and kept at this temperature for 30 seconds.
How to correctly insert a temperature probe
Because the middle of the food takes the longest to cook, the temperature of solid food needs to be taken from the centre or thickest part. To take a reading, insert the probe and slowly move it towards the centre of the food. As you get closer towards the middle you will see the temperature begin to drop, and then rise again as you move past the core. Be sure to avoid any bones, fat or gristle. Remember, cooked food is only as safe as its lowest temperature, so spot checking is essential for larger foods. Insert the probe into several other places to ensure it has come to temperature throughout.
If taking the temperature of small or thin foods such as chicken wings, the Thermapen only needs to be inserted 3mm deep into the food to take an accurate measurement. This is because it has a professional-grade thermocouple probe which is not usually found in other digital instant-read thermometers.
When taking the temperature of liquid foods such as jam or syrup it’s important to ensure they have come to temperature throughout. Stir the liquid before inserting the probe to ensure the heat has circulated.
The temperatures below can be used as a guide to cooking specific foods. For any foods that aren’t listed here or if in doubt, 75°C is a good general temperature to aim for in your cooking.
74°C Chicken, Turkey & Duck
52°C Beef, Lamb & Veal (Rare)
60°C Beef, Lamb & Veal (Medium)
71°C Beef, Lamb & Veal (Well Done)
63°C Pork Roasts, Steaks & Chops (Medium)
71°C Pork Roasts, Steaks & Chops (Well Done)
71°C Egg Dishes
95-98°C Sponge Cake
98-100°C Fruit Cake
77°C Bread (Rich Dough)
88-93°C Bread (Lean Dough)
41-46°C Yeast (Water Temperature)
105°C Jam (Setting Point)
2°C Butter (Chilled)
18-19°C Butter (Softened)
29-32°C Butter (Melted & cooled)
110-112°C Thread (Syrup)
112-116°C Soft Ball (Fondants, Fudge & Pralines)
118-120°C Firm Ball (Caramel)
121-130°C Hard Ball (Divinity & Nougat)
132-143°C Soft Crack (Taffy)
149-154°C Hard Crack (Brittles, Lollipops & Hardtack)
160 – 177°C Caramel (Flan & Caramel Cages)
The above temperatures are guidelines only.