© Randal Oulton
Thermometers come in many different varieties and scales. The choice isn't just between Fahrenheit or Celsius: some of the simpler ones are not really thermometers at all. They just show ranges -- rare, medium, burnt-offering, etc. Some have mercury in them, but most are pure metal these days because it is safer (and cheaper.) Some are so high-tech they're even fun (toys for boys.)
Digital ones require batteries. Dial ones are also called "analog."
Digital ones are better for checking thinner foods -- they are the ones that food safety experts recommend for checking hamburgers. Large-dial ones are better for large pieces of meat.
When using a mercury Thermometer, keep it upright while cooking and while it is hot. If you lay it down, the heated mercury may separate into small beads and render the thermometer useless in the future. Always let glass thermometers cool completely before cleaning or they may shatter.
What all thermometers have had in common is that they had to touch the food to work. This leads to the possibility of cross-contamination. We need a Thermometer that you can just point at something on the grill, click a button to shoot and presto, there's your temperature, with no surface contact needed. There are now (since about 1998) infra-red thermometers that do something like this, except they have one show-stopping limitation: they can only measure the surface temperature of food, and, given the nature of how infra-red rays work, it's not likely that this limitation can be overcome with this technology.
Health Canada. "Food Safety Tips for Using Food Thermometers". Publication P0285E-03. March 2003.
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. The Thermy™ Campaign. May 2002.
ThermometersBimetallic-Coil Thermometers; Candy Thermometer; Cheese Thermometer; Chocolate Thermometer; Meat Thermometers; Oven Thermometers; Refrigerator Thermometers; Safe Cooking Temperatures; Thermometers
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