Whether you’re manning the grill at a family cookout or making dinner in your kitchen, the only thing worse than overcooking meat is serving meat that’s so undercooked it looks like it could walk off your plate. Meat thermometers are a simple technology you can use to balance flavor and food safety.
Farmers also use technology to make sure the meat you purchase in the grocery store gets off to a safe and healthy start. Today’s pig, poultry, cattle and dairy barns are temperature controlled to protect animals from the elements and predators. Many also have automated systems to provide fresh water and a nutritious blend of feed made from soybean meal throughout the day. This gives farmers more time to monitor the health of their animals through personal visits and with cameras they can control via applications on their computers and phones.
You don’t have to be high tech to use a meat thermometer. Here are some tips for selecting and using thermometers to make this your safest grilling season yet.
Choose Your Thermometer
- Ovenproof thermometers often include a digital readout that keeps you from opening the oven door throughout the cooking process.
- Microwave-friendly thermometers are made just for use in microwave ovens.
- Digital and dial instant-read thermometers provide a quick, convenient gauge of temperature when inserted into cooking meat.
- Pop-up thermometers like those often found in poultry can be purchased for use in other meats.
Whatever style you choose, be sure it’s a meat thermometer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Don’t try to repurpose a thermometer designed for candy making or other cooking applications.
Once you have your meat thermometer, be sure to prepare your meat according to the minimum temperatures deemed safe by the USDA.
Where you place the meat thermometer is key to your success. Position it in the center of the cut of meat, or where it is thickest. This holds true for burgers or a meatloaf made with ground beef too. Avoid bone, fat and gristle. Be sure to test your thermometer for accuracy before using.
To test, simply insert the first two inches of your thermometer stem into a pot of boiling water. It should read 212 degrees Fahrenheit, unless you’re atop South Dakota’s Harney Peak, where water boils at around 202 degrees. Altitude is just as important as attitude when it comes to great results on your grill.
Watch this video to see how to use a meat thermometer in three easy steps.
For more grilling safety tips, read this blog. Here are some great recipes to try on your grill: