Instant karma

Everyone knows what an instant-read thermometer is. It’s a thermometer you stick into a piece of food and it instantly tells you the temperature. Right?

You wish. An instant-read thermometer is any thermometer that doesn’t have to be stuck into the food while it’s heating up in order to get an accurate reading. My old Taylor instant-read took about a minute to get a reading. When I break out the thermometer, it’s because I want to know whether something is done now, not so I can stick my hand into a hot oven for a minute like a jackass.

So I got a Thermapen. The Thermapen lives up to the phrase “instant-read”: you stick it in, and it tell you the temperature in four seconds, max, and usually more like two seconds. It has a range of -58°F to 572°F. It comes in colors, like the late iPod mini. There’s an optional belt holster, which of course I bought, because in my book there’s no such thing as an optional holster.

No thermometer is perfect, and there are a couple of downsides to the Thermapen. First, the quick reading depends on the thermometer having a thin, sharp tip. You could poke your eye out, but more to the point, it’s delicate. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem, but if this is something you’re worried about, you can order a Thermapen with a thicker tip that is hardier but takes ten seconds to read.

Second, you can’t switch the Thermapen between Fahrenheit and Celsius. You can get a Celsius-only model, but only in gray.

Third, and I know you’re waiting for this, the Thermapen costs a bundle. The thermometer itself is $85. Throw in the holster and shipping, and you’re close to $100. Do you really need a $100 thermometer? Maybe not. If you cook meat, make candy, or deep-fry regularly, the Thermapen will save you many headaches. If you don’t eat meat, candy, or fried foods, probably you gave up on this blog weeks ago. So I guess you need a Thermapen.

You can order the Thermapen from Thermoworks. I haven’t had the occasion to use their tech support yet, but this is an encouraging sign:

When you call, we don’t need to transfer you to a half-dozen different folks before you get what you need. We promise, no transfer or one transfer. And, we have real people answer the phone. No automated reception software.

3 thoughts on “Instant karma

  1. Eh... not so much

    I just ordered us a Thermopen based on Cook’s Illustrated love of said gadget. We went with the original 10-second thermometer; CI says that the new high-speed’s tip is too thin and prone to breaking and bending. Yeouch! 10 seconds will be fast enough, thanks!

  2. Andrew Feldstein

    Have had mine for a couple of years. These rock. And they make great presents. And you get lagniappe with every purchase (yay jelly beans!).

    >You can get a Celsius-only model, but only in gray.

    Reason enough not to get the Celsius-only model. I got mine in yellow. Bright, blinding, yellow.

    Why to those Cook’s Illustrated people on TV always have only the gray model? Couldn’t they afford a couple more bucks for a cool color?

    And why do they always have the boring-but-functional-and-just-as-good-as-the-others brushed aluminum Master Chef 2 All-Clad pots?

    Doesn’t anyone at Cook’s Illustrated have any sense of style?

  3. Andrew Feldstein

    Ooh, I forgot to add you should forget the 10 second model–why are you buying a Thermapen anyway? I have the one with the nice sharp point that reads wicked fast. Never a problem with the tip, but it is sharp–poke myself all the time I do.

    I do try to keep the thing closed so I don’t get poked so often, but I can’t always remember to do that. And some times it’s impossible. For example, for my family’s Chanukah Fry-Fest a couple of Fridays ago, I learned that even though the probe will read very quickly, it heats up very quickly too–so you have a choice, getting poked or getting burnt (I got poked and burnt.)

    One of my favorite things is to use the Thermapen while heating water or oil to watch the temperature climb (only every half minute or so–any oftener is obsessive).

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