Looking to lose weight? Try our FREE Calorie Counter »  |  Log In
Articles Fitness Nutrition

Food Myths Debunked: Pop-Up Plastic Thermometers are Just as Good as the Real Kind

Jul 28, 2010

Using food thermometers is necessary in order to determine the internal temperature of meat, poultry and egg products. To ensure protection from harmful bacteria that may be in your food, certain internal temperatures must be achieved. There are many options available today to indicate when your food is done.

Pop-Up Thermometers

Pop-Up Plastic Thermometers have been used in household kitchens since 1965. They are reliable to within 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit when placed properly. Pop-up style thermometers are constructed of a food grade nylon. The inside contains an organic firing material that is designed to dissolve at specific temperatures. When the temperature is reached, a spring inside the device releases the stem. This removes the guesswork for the cook. They are designed to pop-up at 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Many store bought turkeys and roasts already have a thermometer installed when you buy them.

Drawbacks

Pop-up thermometers pierce the skin of a turkey and allow flavorful juices to escape. The pre-determined temperature of 185 degrees Fahrenheit may leave you with an overcooked piece of meat. Additionally, the placement of the thermometer may not represent the overall temperature of the entire piece of meat. Hot and/or cold spots may result.

Here are some alternatives to pop-up thermometers:

Thermocouple

Thermocouple thermometers are the fastest available today. Temperature is measured by two fine wires located at the tip of the probe. The final temperature is displayed on a digital display within 2 to 5 seconds. This allows the temperature to be checked in a variety of locations very quickly. Thermocouples are designed to be used near the end of the cooking cycle.

Thermistors

Thermistors take approximately 10 seconds to register the temperature. They are not designed to remain in the food while cooking. Insert the probe into the center of the meat and check the digital display. Accuracy of a thermistor is within 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the semiconductor used to determine temperature is located in the tip, thermistors can accurately measure temperature in thin food as well as thick.

Thermometer Fork Combination

A Thermometer Fork has a temperature sensing device embedded in the tines of the fork. Different brands utilize either a thermocouple or thermistor to read the temperature. Within 2 to 10 seconds after piercing, the temperature is displayed on the handle. These forks are best used when grilling. They will accurately measure even the thinnest of foods.

Recommendations

If convenience is priority, a Pop-Up Plastic Thermometer may be the best choice. Some turkeys and roasts can be purchased in the grocery store with one already installed. There aren’t any temperatures to be read, simply consider dinner ready when the thermometer pops up. However, accuracy may not be this thermometers strong point. Some meats may be overcooked before the thermometer indicates it’s done. Placement of the thermometer may not accurately represent the temperature in other areas. Options are available when cooking thicker or thinner cuts of meat. Grilling may be best suited to a Fork Combination thermometer. While the Pop-Up Thermometer may remain available as one of our temperature indicators, it may not always be the most suitable option.

Article Comments