A heat probe for cooking is an effective, consistent and precise way to read the internal temperature of your food during the cooking, holding or chilling process. Whether cooking proteins or chilling casseroles, you can use a metal temperature probe to find out whether food's temperature is outside of the “danger zone” (between 40° and 140°F). This ensures that dangerous bacteria have been neutralized and the food is safe to eat. A probe is also a useful tool to achieve accurate degrees of doneness and achieve the highest quality food.
At Alto-Shaam, we’ve incorporated removable temperature probes in our equipment, like combi ovens, Cook & Hold ovens, smokers, chillers, and Vector Multi-Cook Ovens. The detachable probe allows food service professionals to cook or chill more efficiently and precisely, by measuring temperature instead of time.
In this guide, we’ve shared a few benefits of temperature probe cooking, as well as how to use an oven temperature probe.
Benefits of Probe Cooking and Holding
Probes are arguably the best way to obtain optimal food temperatures while cooking. Some cook and hold ovens allow you to set food probes to your ideal internal temperature, and the oven will automatically switch to hold mode once a set cook temperature has been reached. The oven will then hold the food at the perfect temperature until it’s ready to be served.
This simplified, highly efficient process reduces labor costs while improving the quality of the end result. Cook and hold ovens even enable HACCP data collection to ensure the highest level of food safety compliance.
Maintain a Desired Temperature
As food cools down, it can quickly fall back into the danger zone, so it’s crucial to have a probe on hand. This will allow you to reheat food before it drops below 140°F for too long. Meanwhile, you can use temperature probe cooking to reheat or retherm food more evenly, so that there are no internal cold spots.
Cook with Precision
Every cut of meat needs to reach a precise internal temperature to achieve the perfect degree of doneness. There’s nothing worse than under or overcooked food, especially if you’re working with a quality cut of meat. To reach the proper temperature, you can use a probe to monitor food as it cooks.
Simplify the Cooking Process
With a probe thermometer, you eliminate the guesswork when cooking different cuts of meat. Depending on the meat’s size, cooking time can vary, so you shouldn’t use it as the only indicator of doneness. Many pieces of equipment allow you to measure internal food temperature as well as the temperature of the oven chamber at the same time, this enables you to monitor the cooking process and add or reduce heat when needed.
How to use a probe thermometer
To avoid injury, exercise caution when using oven temperature probes.
- Insert the stem of a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the food. If the food is equally thick on the entire piece, insert the stem into the center of the food. If the food is in liquid form (i.e. soup or broth), stir it to make sure the heat has been evenly distributed before inserting the thermometer. This will allow you to achieve an accurate temperature reading.
- Wait at least 15 seconds for the reading to adjust, and then record the reading (or let deluxe control ovens record the reading for you).
Note: Don’t let the probe touch the bottom or sides of the food containers, as this will prevent an accurate temperature reading of your food.
Recalibrating your thermometer
Recalibration is the adjustment of the thermometer to make sure it’s set up to read the correct temperature. This should be done regularly to ensure readings are accurate.
There are multiple opportunities to recalibrate your thermometer:
- Before the first time you use it, and at least once a month after that.
- Any time the thermometer is exposed to extreme change in temperature during storage.
- If the probe thermometer has been dropped.
Follow these simple steps to recalibrate your thermometer using the ice point method:
- Fill a cup with crushed ice and add just enough water to slightly float the ice. The ice water will always be 0°C (32°F). This is the temperature that you use as a guide to calibrate your probe thermometer.
- Place the stem of the thermometer in the ice water, making sure it doesn’t touch the sides or the bottom of the cup. Wait until the needle stops moving and becomes still. If the needle is not pointing at 0°C (32°F), it needs to be adjusted.
It’s quite impressive that such a small tool can help you achieve high-quality food consistently and precisely. By maintaining a safe temperature of food, operators can also prevent food-borne illness. Based on the numerous benefits of using temperature probes, there are very few reasons not to incorporate this device and related equipment into your kitchen arsenal!
For more information on Alto-Shaam’s full line of commercial equipment, visit our product page.