Candy Thermometers Review
Why Buy a Candy Thermometer?
Candy thermometers are calibrated to temperature ranges specifically for candy making, which covers 220 degrees Fahrenheit to around 360 degrees. They sometimes include labelled ranges for different stages of candy making – such as soft ball and hard ball, or soft crack and hard crack stage. This is critical for the very scientific aspects of candy making, because if you under- or overheat your candy, the whole recipe can be ruined, which represents a lot of wasted effort and expense.
Candy Thermometers: What to Look For
When considering the characteristics and features of a candy thermometer, think about how you’ll be using it. Do you require a digital display for quick and easy reading? Also, make sure the construction of the thermometer you choose will work in the pan you're using or the oven.
Digital vs. Analog
There are digital and analog candy thermometers. Digital thermometers read temperatures electronically, and deliver the result electronically as well. Analog thermometers contain mercury or spirits which react to heat – or a lack thereof – to deliver a reading on a dial or scale.
Analog candy thermometers are typically very affordable, and they come in either glass or metal. With an analog thermometer, you may need to wait a bit longer to be sure you’re seeing the right temperature. Digital thermometers offer fast readings, and some digital thermometers are designed specifically for candy making. These digital thermometers can alert you when your pot is reaching a certain temperature, which can be very helpful to a busy cook or to a novice who isn’t used to the demands of candy making. Digital thermometers may also have presets, designed specifically for various types of candy, to alert you at key moments in the candy-making process.
Digital and analog thermometers should be calibrated frequently to make sure they are delivering an accurate reading. Analog thermometers require frequent calibration, while you can often rely on digital thermometers for a longer period of time – check your manufacturer’s advice on calibration for more information.
Since most candy thermometers don’t have a reading for freezing, you have to bring water to the boiling point to check the accuracy of your thermometer. If your reading is inaccurate, you have the option of adjusting the thermometer’s “cage,” if that is the style of thermometer you’re using. Otherwise, get a new thermometer – candy making is an exact science that requires an accurate temperature reading.
Material & Shape
Glass thermometers are tube-shaped and come in a few sizes. They usually come with a clip, similar to the clip on a pen, so that they can easily hook onto a pot and stay there while you cook. Some glass thermometers also come with “protectors” that surround them to help prevent breakage. Protectors also keep thermometers from touching the sides of your pan during cooking – you want to keep the thermometer from touching the pan directly, which would skew the reading of the liquid in the pot.
Some glass thermometers are mounted onto a metal or stainless steel backing, which serves to protect the brittle glass thermometer, and also makes the temperature gauge easier to read. There is sometimes room on a metal backing to include temperature zones for various stages of heat, which can be helpful during cooking. The irregular shape of the braces and bolts holding such units together can make thorough cleaning difficult, however.
Metal thermometers typically feature a 7- or 8-inch probe with a round dial face that delivers the temperature reading. These types of thermometers also have clips for attaching to the pot and can double as meat thermometers ¬– although they may not be oven-safe – or be used to test the temperature of other foods such as fish or baked goods.
Candy making is a very precise art, so it’s important to have a good thermometer. If you’re at all dedicated to the art and science of making candy, you’ll know that a good, reliable thermometer is worth a little extra. Candy thermometers are very handy to have around the kitchen and can almost always double as thermometers for frying, and often can be used to check temperatures on meats, breads and more.