Thermometer recommendations: instant vs. candy
Looking to purchase a new thermometer. Right now I have a generic candy thermometer I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond, but the lettering is wearing off so it's becoming useless.
I don't eat meat, so I have never had much of a need for an instant-read thermometer. I mostly use a thermometer for deep-frying and/or cooking things like caramel, ice cream, etc.
But, the instant read seems appealing for the few times I cook things like breads or cakes which you can perfect by using a temperature to gauge their 'doneness.' However, I'm not sure whether I can still use an instant-read for deep-frying and stovetop cooking.
Thoughts? Recommendations for a good thermometer that will serve my purposes?
You can definitely use it for deep frying, I use my Thermapen routinely for frying. Candy making is another proposition. Is the liquid bubbling up and likely to splatter? If it is, I'd say no, because of the burn danger to you.
I also love my Thermapen for bread. I no longer have to hope my bread has reached the right temp, I'm sure of it. If you only get one thermometer, get an instant read. If you make candy frequently, I'd also suggest a clip-on just for that purpose.
Fwiw, I had an earlier version of this one: http://www.amazon.com/CDN-DTC450-Digi...
Hopefully things have changed since I bought mine a few years ago, but I didn't find it accurate and the beeping alerts drove the animals crazy (sounds similar to a smoke alarm). I used it primarily for candymaking.
Generally speaking, you can get a perfectly decent candy thermometer for $10 or so. It will generally be more durable but less versatile than an instant read thermometer. Less expensive, obviously, too. Many of the inexpensive options seem to be reasonably well made and reliable.
Thermapens are only marginally faster or more accurate than much cheaper models of instant read thermometers. Probably the biggest reason people buy Thermapens despite their cost is that cheaper instant read thermometers tend stop working much quicker. Sometimes they break when exposed to water. Often they seem to break just for the hell of it. Course, you could buy 4 or 5 for the price of a thermapen. But having one (or three) break on you for no apparent reason a few months after purchase gets aggravating - I know from experience.
You can indeed use instant read thermometers for candy making and deep frying - just double check before buying that their temperature goes up high enough. Most do.
Alternatively, you can just buy a food-safe ceramic paint and mark the lettering again on your current thermometer.
Thermoworks has a clip that fits the side of your pot and allows the use of a digital thermometer to measure the temperature of the contents. I would pair this with a digital thermometer with a probe and wire to a unit that is not directly in contact with your pot. You get the accuracy of a digital thermometer with the convenience of a clip to keep the probe in the oil or candy and the unit stays far enough from the cooking that you don't have to worry about spills or splatters.