Internal Temperatures of Cooked Food

Meat Thermometers

A meat thermometer (every kitchen should have one) is the best way to know what is going on inside your meat.  They are also known as Instant-Read Pocket Thermometers and can be purchased in grocery stores, kitchen stores, and online for under $10.00.  Think about it, you probably paid more for meat for two than you would for a thermometer, so why take a chance of over or under cooking the meat?

So how do you use a meat thermometer?
1. Choose one that has a range of 0 degrees F to 220 degrees F
2. Check the internal temperature of the food near the end of the cooking process.
3. Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat or in the center of the food to get a true reading.  Do not touch the bone with the stem of the thermometer, this will give a false reading.
4. Leave the thermometer in the food for 15 seconds to get an accurate reading.
5. Check the temperature of large cuts of meat in two or more locations to be sure.
6. Wash and sanitize the thermometer each time you check the temperature of the food.
7. Refer to the temperature guidelines below for desired results.

Calibrating
When using a food thermometer you will need to be sure it is calibrated.  Calibrating is an easy process done either by using ice water or boiling water.  Calibrate your thermometer every time you use it and whenever it is bumped or dropped.  If you do you will know it is telling you the correct temperature.

Ice Water Calibration
1. Fill a cup with ice cubes.
2. Fill the cup with water.
3. Put the stem of the thermometer 2 inches in the ice water and wait 30 seconds.
4. The thermometer should read 32 degrees F.
5. If it reads 32 degrees F then you are good to go.  If not see the Adjusting Diagram.

Boiling Water Calibration
1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
2. Put the stem of the thermometer 2 inches in the boiling water and wait 30 seconds.
3. The thermometer should read 212 degrees F.
5. If it reads 212 degrees F then you are good to go.  If not see the Adjusting Diagram.

Adjusting Diagram
1. While holding the head, use pliers or a wrench and turn the nut on the back of the thermometer until the needle reads 32 degrees F for the ice water or 212 degrees for the boiling water.
2. Test the thermometer in the ice water or boiling water to see if it needs more adjusting once more.


This simple, inexpensive tool can help make a dining experience memorable.  Below is an Internal Temperature Guide for meats to be removed from the heat (cooking source) and allowed to rest.  The meat should “rest” for about five minutes for smaller cuts (Steaks, Chicken Breast, Chicken Legs, Fish, Hamburgers) and up to 45 minutes for larger cuts (Whole Chicken, Prime Rib, Whole Turkey).  During the resting process the meat will continue to cook and the temperature will rise but this resting process will also allow the meat to relax.

Internal Temperature Guide
(for Meats to be Removed From the Heat and Allowed to Rest)

Rare Beef                    115 Degrees F
Medium Rare Beef   120 Degrees F
Medium Beef             125 Degrees F
Medium Well Beef   130 Degrees F
Well Done Beef        140 Degrees F

Lamb                          125 Degrees F
Pork                            140 Degrees F
Fish                            125 Degrees F
Chicken / Turkey    165 Degrees F