Question on meat thermometer

Discussion in 'Meat Thermometers' started by solidbob, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. solidbob

    solidbob Fire Starter

    Hi all, long time reader, first time posting. Just got back into smoking. I live in NYC and we just got a place in Brooklyn with a small backyard so obviously my first purchase upon moving in was a MES. It's the bare bones version but I found it on clearance at home depot for $50. Done a few smokes with it and it seems to work great.

    My question, I have a couple of those standard meat thermometers as I've learned from y'all that temp is the only real way to measure when something is done. Do you stick those in the meat and just leave them in the whole time or just stick them in occasionally when you want to get the temp? Not sure if leaving them in would throw everything off or if those are made to be left in the smoker.

    Doing a 8lb picnic shoulder tomorrow (or probably start it tonight). Would you guys say go with 1.5-2hrs a pound on these? I want to do pulled pork so want to get it up to 200. I usually keep the MES at around 225.

    Thanks again for all the great stuff here. I'll try to remember to post some pics.
  2. It needs to be a thermometer with the probe on a wire covered with braided steel. The pencil type cannot be left on the heat.
  3. solidbob

    solidbob Fire Starter

    That's what I thought, thanks!
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    There are 2 types of thermometers that are a dial and probe. There are Instant Read that typically have a thin probe and a 1 inch dial. This style can't be left in the meat. There are also MEAT Thermometers. The stem is twice ans thick and the dial is 2-3 inches wide. They also have a numeric temp with the corresponding description of Rare, Med/Rare, Medium and so forth and may indicate when Chicken or Pork is done. This type of therm is designed to be in the center of the meat and in the Oven or Smoker for the entire cook. See below...JJ

    This is an Instant Read...

    This is a Meat Thermometer designed to go in the Oven/Smoker...
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
  5. Congratulations on your MES deal. Your going to love it. Remember to post some Qview.

    Happy smoken.

  6. solidbob

    solidbob Fire Starter

    Thanks! I have the instant read one. Maybe I'll try to pick up the other kind tomorrow.
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    They work ok but can be a bit off. I would highly recommend you get a Maverick 732 from Todd at... He has them in Black and White and Todd is currently running a special discount promotion. They are dual Probe, one for Smoker temp and one for Meat temp and the remote has a 300' range so you can do other stuff and monitor the meat...JJ

  8. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If you can't get your hands on a probe thermometer by the time you need it, the instant read will work. Just make sure it's reading correctly. Stick it in boiling water and it should read 212˚. If it's off, there is usually a little nut behind the dial (where the stem meets the back of the dial) that can be turned to calibrate it.

    (photo stolen from web for illustrative purposes)

    Also make sure you give it 10 or 15 seconds to get to temperature, "instant read" is a somewhat optimistic term.

    Just remember, a long cooking piece of meat like a pork picnic will have its own agenda. 200˚ is a good target, but I'd start checking in the 190˚ range. Wiggle the bone and feel how your thermometer slides in. When the bone pulls away clean and the thermometer slides in with almost no resistance, it's done. 200˚ will likely be where the magic happens, but you never know.

    Good luck and keep us updated on the smoke!!
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  9. dcarch

    dcarch Smoking Fanatic

    There is a very quick experiment everyone can do.

    Wrap some paper towel around the metal shaft of the probe, just above the measuring tip. Tie the paper towel with rubber band. Then pour boiling water on the paper towel, and make sure that no hot water touches the tip.

    In a short time, you will see the temperature rise. The thermometer will be measuring heat conducted by the metal shaft, even the tip is not being heated up by the hot water. All thermometers will give you false readings if you leave it for a long time in the cooker because metal conducts heat much faster then meat. Especially if you have a thin piece of meat. 

    This is true for the best of thermometers. I even tried it with a Thermapen, in one minute, the hot water on the shaft caused the reading to go from 71 F to 100 F.

    I understand there are many people disagree, that this is important for food safety, but I never leave my thermometer in the meat in the cooker and trust the readings.

  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    It is not my intention to be rude or argue this point " AGAIN " but the above info is simply wrong! Dcarch, you are a valued member of this forum and have provided much valuable information. But when it comes to SAFETY what you post MUST be accurate...Meat Therm probes are " DESIGNED " to be left in the meat. Initially the tiny amount of conducted heat " NEVER " gets past the outer 1/4" of meat because the " COLDER " meat absorbs that heat energy. The probes sensor is 4 or more inches into the probe. The cold meat surrounding the probe " KEEPS " the probe cool and reading " ACCURATELY " until the heat energy is conducted from the outer portion of the meat to the center causing the meat to be uniformly heated to the desired IT and cooked. We know this is a " FACT " because a Rib Eye cooked to 130*F is Well Done on the outer 1/2-1" then the rest of the meat is Med/Rare. If the above statement had any validity and the Probe conducted heat, we would see a six inch " Well Done " strip of meat running directly through the center of the meat surrounding the area where the Probe was!!! Considering this has " NEVER " happened to any piece of meat I have ever made in the last 40 years at home, and Hundreds of roasts I have made in multiple Restaurants, " LEAVING THE PROBE IN BECAUSE THEY ARE DESIGNED TO BE LEFT IN " there is no way there could possibly be a SAFETY issue or " ANY " significant heat being conducted deep into the meat by the PROBE!!! Regarding thin meat what is the definition of THIN? A 1" thick Steak or Fillet of Fish? There would be no reason to place and leave a Meat Therm in a cut this thin. They are cooked by Timing and checked with the type of Thermometer " DESIGNED " for Thin cuts of meat...An INSTANT READ THERMOMETER....JJ 
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  11. dcarch

    dcarch Smoking Fanatic

    J.J. I don't think any fact based discussions can be rude, especially from you, who is a well respected expert on this topic.

    For me, I cannot reconcile the fact that in my experiments,  which everyone is free to duplicate, that in a minute the temperature will rise from the heat on the shaft conducted to the tip significantly, and in that case what happens if you leave the metal shaft in the hot cooking environment for many hours.

    As to "thin" meat, I don't know this Forum's rules for posting someone else's pictures, but I see so many members here cook chicken breasts, 1 1/2" thick briskets, 1" thick pork ribs --- with the thermometer probe sticking half way into the meat almost vertically for a long time. I just cannot understand how the temperature reading can be truly accurate due to the thermal conductivity of the metal. Yes, I agree, all the thermometers will say they are designed for insertion in meat for as long as you want. 

    I know probably no one has died from doing it the normal way. that's why I said for me " but I never leave my thermometer in the meat in the cooker and trust the readings". I have a habit of cooking to extreme low temperatures. From my sous vide cooking habits, one to two degrees of error is very important to me. Therefore I use an instant-read thermometer, and never leave probe thermometers in meat for hours.

  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I appreciate your understanding in this matter. Like I said you have a wealth of knowledge to contribute. Regarding the Test you describe, depending on the Type of Probe and the manufacturer there are different sensors and sensor locations used. For instance there are the slow but functional Thermistors (Taylor) and Bimetallic Thermometers (Tru-Tel and Meat Thermometer). because the sensor is so thick they can not be placed in the very tip of the probe. They are typically placed 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches up the shaft of the probe. The thermometers instructions will say, " Insert the probe X number of inches for an accurate reading. " In comparison the faster and more expensive Thermocouple sensor (Thermopen) are very small, are mounted in thinner probes and are placed at the very Tip of the probe, hence their speed and usefulness in thin cuts of meat. So depending on the thermometer, when you wrap with paper towel and pour boiling water on the probe you are very likely pouring the water " on " the sensor, even if you avoid the tip, you are not seeing conduction to the Tip the thermometer is working as designed. Now granted over time if you were to pour the water next to the Dial eventually the heat would be conducted down the shaft and cause the sensor to react but my point is it does not matter in meat. As described before the cool meat absorbs the conducted heat long before it rises to a significantly high temp that can cause bacterial growth or even cook the meat. In thin meats yes the conduction has a slightly greater impact but again there is no safety issues as the thin meat will come up to a safe temp in well under an hour and long before bacteria can start to divide causing any risk of illness. You feel safer not leaving the Thermometer in and that's fine I just wish to point out that there is nothing to worry about and leave our readers with the confidence to safely use a Meat Thermometer or even the Probes of a Maverick or the probe that comes in many Smokers (MES and GURU PIDs) and Digital Ovens...JJ
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  13. dcarch

    dcarch Smoking Fanatic

    Thank you J.J. ------------ Great post!!  [​IMG]  

    The members here are lucky to have you to share knowledge.

    It may be overly concerned on my part. I am fascinated by the interesting condition in Physics, known as the "Observer Effect", which says that in many situations, it is not possible to determine the true nature of the event being observed, because the system and instrumentation used, by their very nature modifies the end result of what is being observed.

    Measuring temperature (not by IR radiation) with a metallic probe would be a classic situation that the act of observing by definition modifies the observed condition. Many temperature probes used are almost as thick as those cooking pins you use to help conduct heat faster into a turkey to make it cook faster.

    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  14. mrmoomer

    mrmoomer Fire Starter

    Thanks for all the info j j . I am planing on doing a 9lbs pork shoulder tomorrow and the info you have provided is totaly taking the stress out of it. Thanks !
  15. Good info on thermometers. I use a Maverick that I leave in larger cuts of meat. An Instant Read for thinner cuts and I also use the Instant Read on the larger cuts on the opposite end of where I have my Mav, when it's getting close to being done, that way I know whether it cooked evenly.

    Thanks for it, but did it really have to have so much SCREAMING IN BOLD RED to get the facts across on a new member's thread...just sayin it's hard on the eyes.
  16. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  17. Excuse this.....stupid iPad won't let me delete it.:
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  18. :rotflmao:Glad the red was in that post. Kept me from noddin' off while I was tryin' to wade through all that technimicalitistic stuff.:rotflmao:
  19. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sorry kids, sometimes I go overboard making a point. The Red was to drive the point home. It had nothing to do with a new member. HOW ABOUT THIS? THIS IS PRETTY TOO! Some folks think I need a Slap on the Wrist once in awhile, guess I was due. I went back and changed the post to black...JJ
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  20. Oh, PLEASE, guys,
    Must we be so politically correct that we muzzle our posts? JJ's posting in red hurt someone's feelings....REALLY? Seems like, to me, in my short time here, that too many folks are looking for a chance to pounce on anything in this forum that might be ever so slightly off the norm. Just an observation that puzzles me. Sure hope it's just a temporary trend.
    Personally, JJ, I loved the red emphasis. :yahoo:

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