I have so many thermometers and they all seem to register differently. I usually do manual tests anyway to test for stages of cooking, but wonder if anyone can really recommend a RELIABLE thermometer? Some of mine vary by up to 30 degrees! I have digital, instant read, laser, etc. Any help here?
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I feel your pain, I haven't found a decent one lately at all. I make a lot of confections and caramels, and it's been a nightmare.
I think the one made by Matfer is my next purchase. I used it at my first pastry job, and it was always reliable. I'll have to convert all my stuff over to celsius, but no big. Most of the problems I have is the stem isn't long enough, or they are top heavy and fall over or out of the pot.
The Matfer one has a metal cage around it, and you can get a holder that clips onto the pot and holds it out over the middle.
I have had the same issues with all reading different temps.
I can't find a reliable candy thermometer either. I have a digital instant read thermometer that seems to be the most accurate, but if I clip it onto the side of the pan, the steam from the boiling sugar messes up the digital display and all I can read is "8888". To use it I have to intermittently hold it in the middle of the boiling sugar by hand, and it's very uncomfortable.
My dollar store purchase of a mercury-like thermometer broke the first time I used it. (The liquid didn't leak out or anything).
I have another digital instant read thermometer with a separate probe that you clip on to the side of the pan, but it's highly inaccurate.
This is the one I'm going to try next:
Well digital thermometers are pretty accurate nowadays. I prefer them over traditional types because they are easier to read. A few good brands are CDN and Polder. There are more good brands but those are just the ones that I thought up on top of my head.
I did a quick search online and found an article which reviews some of the top candy thermometers:
I have a digital Polder that I like. It would be handier if it clipped to the pan but I guess I can deal with pulling it in and out of hot candy batches. The "dollar store" thermometers that I am accustomed to have paper readings so when steam hits them (and they are never tight) the paper warps and you can never get an accurate reading. Have used them ONCE and had to throw them out immediately.
When you're cooking sugar, you will get different hot zones in the pot and within the liquid itself, it's not like water where you have one uniform temperature.
Also the size of the thermometer probe makes a difference--the bigger the probe (or bulb) the more of an average of temperature you will get. While electronic thermometers may be accurate, the probe is tiny and the "sampling" area is much smaller, so you will get different readings if you use several thermometers.
If you are cooking/baking professionally do not use a mercury thermometer, if that thing ever beaks...... or if a Health inspector ever catches you using one..........