Describe how to properly use a food thermometer.
Using a food thermometer
Most available food thermometers will give an accurate reading within 2°F to 4°F. The reading will only be correct, however, if the thermometer is placed in the proper location in the food. If not inserted correctly, or placed in the wrong area, the reading on the food thermometer will not accurately reflect the internal temperature of the food. In general, the food thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food, away from bone, fat, or gristle.
Before using a food thermometer, read the manufacturer's instructions. The instructions should tell how far the thermometer must be inserted in a food to give an accurate reading. If instructions are not available, check the stem of the food thermometer for an indentation, or "dimple." This shows one end of the location of the sensing device. Dial thermometers must penetrate about 2 to 3 inches into the food. Most digital thermometers will read the temperature in a small area of the tip.
Where to place the food thermometer
Meat. When taking the temperature of beef, pork, or lamb roasts, the food thermometer should be placed midway in the roast, avoiding the bone. When cooking hamburgers, steaks, or chops, insert a thermistor or thermocouple in the thickest part of the meat, away from bone, fat, or gristle. If using a dial bimetal thermometer, see "Thin foods" below. When cooking irregularly shaped food, such as a beef roast, check the temperature in several places.
Poultry. When cooking whole poultry, the food thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone). If the poultry is stuffed, the center of the stuffing should be checked after the thigh reads 180°F (stuffing must reach 165°F). If cooking poultry parts, insert food thermometer into the thickest area, avoiding the bone. The food thermometer may be inserted sideways if necessary. When the food is irregularly shaped, the temperature should be checked in several places.
Thin foods. When measuring the temperature of a thin food, such as a hamburger patty, pork chop, or chicken breast, use a thermistor or thermocouple food thermometer if possible. However, if an "instant-read" dial bimetallic-coil food thermometer is used, the probe must be inserted into the side of the food so that entire sensing area (usually 2-3 inches) is positioned through the center of the food. To avoid burning fingers, it may be helpful to remove the food from the heat source (if cooking on a grill or in a frying pan) and insert the food thermometer sideways after placing the item on a clean spatula or plate.
Combination dishes. For casseroles and other combination dishes, place the food thermometer into the thickest portion of the food or the center of the dish. Egg dishes and dishes containing ground meat and poultry should be checked in several places.
As with any cooking utensil, food thermometers should be washed with hot soapy water. Most thermometers should not be immersed in water. Wash carefully by hand. Use caution when using a food thermometer. Some models have plastic faces, which can melt if placed too close to heat or dropped in hot liquid.
Thermometer probes are sharp and should be stored with the probe in the stem sheath. Some glass thermometers are sensitive to rough handling and should be stored in their packaging for extra protection or in a location where they will not be jostled.