food-safety | 13 mins read

How to Use a Digital Bluetooth Meat Thermometer Correctly

how to use a digital bluetooth meat thermometer correctly 1662210073 3396
Debdutta Bhattacharjee

By Debdutta Bhattacharjee

What is a Digital Bluetooth Meat Thermometer?

It's the Fourth of July and you have planned an elaborate outdoor barbeque. You have chosen a picturesque setting by a tranquil lake, invited your friends and their families, and made arrangements for food, fuel, furniture, lighting, and utensils. You are well prepared to deliver a barbeque experience that will last a lifetime. But are you really? Isn't there something you're forgetting? You guessed right. A BBQ thermometer! Without this simple tool, you will not know if your barbequed meat is safe enough to eat. What's more, you could end up undercooking or overcooking the dish and draw flak for a ruined evening!

The digital Bluetooth/ wireless meat thermometer is one of the best meat thermometers around. This thermometer has probes sunk into the meat and left inside the grill as the meat cooks. There are probes to measure the ambient temperature of the grill too. The probes are plugged into a transmitter and temperature readings are registered and displayed on an electronic/LED screen on the transmitter. The transmitter is paired with a receiver through Bluetooth connectivity and sends the temperature readings to the receiver. In certain Bluetooth meat thermometers, the receiver is a remote device with a digital/LED display that can be kept at a distance from the grill. It allows you to set time and temperature controls for your cooking and sends notifications.

In the case of truly wireless meat thermometers, the probes are simply inserted into the meat in the grill, and sensors on them allow both the internal temperature of the meat and the ambient temperature of the grill to be measured simultaneously. In this case, there is no need for a separate transmitter. The temperature readings are relayed back to the main unit, and a dedicated app on handheld devices like a smartphone, a tablet, or an iPad. Time, temperature, and alarm settings can be controlled via the app.

The biggest plus point of a Bluetooth meat thermometer is that it does away with the need to be near the grill all the time, yet allows you to continuously monitor the cooking. It makes sure you don't undercook or burn the meat, and also sees to it that you cook it to a safe temperature. Alarms on your phone will tell you if something goes wrong with the grilling, or when the target temperature is reached. What's more, if the smart meat thermometer is linked to a Wifi-enabled device, you can access grilling data through the cloud in real time from anywhere in the world.

Analog Vs. Digital Meat Thermometer - What's Better?

Digital thermometers offer substantial benefits over rudimentary liquid-filled or dial analog thermometers. Digital instant read thermometers have very low response times and can display temperature readouts in a few seconds. These electronic displays are easier to read too. On the other hand, you invariably end up straining your eyes trying to read the temperature on an analog thermometer.

Liquid-filled thermometers are based on mercury or alcohol and use the simplest method of temperature measurement. Mercury/alcohol is filled inside glass tubes, and the expansion or contraction of the liquid and its resultant movement up or down the tube in response to temperature changes gives you a readout.

To get the markings on a liquid-filled thermometer, dip the appliance in a pack of ice. The level indicated by the mercury/alcohol when the thermometer is dipped in ice corresponds to the temperature of ice (or frozen water), which is 0 degree Celsius. This may be taken as the lowest point on the thermometer.

Next, dip the thermometer in boiling water. Mercury would expand and rise up the tube to a level corresponding to the temperature of boiling water, that is 100 degrees Celsius. This may be used as the highest point on the thermometer. The thermometer scale may now be equally divided between these two extreme points. The corresponding Fahrenheit scale would range between 32 F and 212 F. It may suitably be tailored to measure from 0 F to 100 F. Alcohol thermometers won't be able to go up to 100 C, as ethanol, which is the most commonly-used alcohol, would start boiling at around 80 C.

Analog dial thermometers involve pointers mounted on coiled metal that expands and bends as temperature rises, pushing the pointer up the thermometer scale. Like liquid-filled thermometers, temperatures on dial thermometers need to be read from markings.

There is every chance of human error creeping in while determining temperatures from the mercury/alcohol or the dial pointer's position. Digital thermometers, on the other hand, show precise temperatures even to the level of one-hundredth of a degree, which is not possible with analog thermometers.

Apart from speed and precision, digital thermometers are also safer than mercury thermometers. Mercury is a toxic substance and leakage can be extremely hazardous.

Smart thermometers that come with digital/LCD displays, offer a host of additional functions. For example, food can be monitored in real time on a mobile device. You don't have to stay put near the oven, but can rely on the smart thermometer for alerts when you need to step in. Digital Bluetooth thermometers also provide cooking data in the form of graphs, and so on.

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How Does a Digital Meat Thermometer Work?

The functioning of digital thermometers is premised on the idea that the ease of electric flow through a piece of metal changes with changes in temperature. Accordingly, the metal is said to have different degrees of resistance at different temperatures. As metals heat up, the atoms within them begin to vibrate with energy, impeding the electric flow and raising the metal's resistance in the bargain. However, as the temperature of the metal reduces, calmer atoms offer less resistance to the flow of electricity.

Digital thermometers come with batteries that provide a nominal electrical force or voltage. A digital instant read, in this regard, may supply 1.5V. Bluetooth BBQ thermometers would supply a bit more. The ThermoPro TP25 provides a power of 3.7V. In the case of the truly wireless Meater family of probes, the battery voltage offered is 2.4V.

A digital thermometer sends this nominal voltage across its stainless steel probe. This allows it to calculate the flow of electricity through the metal. For instance, when a probe is inserted deep into a cut of roasting meat, the high heat obstructs the electric current supplied by the probe battery. Vigorously vibrating atoms inside the stainless steel probe increase the metal's resistance. The internal microchip of the thermometer then computes the temperature from the extent of resistance offered.

How to Use a Digital Bluetooth Meat Thermometer

A Bluetooth smoker/ grill thermometer would give the best idea about how a Bluetooth meat thermometer works.

To start off, stainless steel probes are to be inserted into the thickest part of the meat. In the case of steaks and roasts, the deepest part lies in the center, while in the case of poultry birds, it is located along the depth of the inner thigh. Care should be taken to avoid hitting bone, fat, or gristle so that the readings are true. To measure the ambient temperature, the probes can simply be left hanging inside the grill.

These probes can be connected to the digital transmitter through oven-proof wires. There can be multiple probes for measuring the meat and grill temperatures, and they are often color-coded. The transmitter relays the information wirelessly by using Bluetooth technology to the receiver which acts as a remote control device. It lets users select probes, increase/decrease timer and temperature settings, choose preset meat temperatures, select custom levels of doneness, toggle between Fahrenheit and Celsius modes, control the backlight, and control alarms. A thermometer like ThermoPro TP has a wireless range of 500 feet, which means the receiver can pick up temperature readings from that distance.

Your smartphone can be a substitute receiver as well. Using the app, you can set target temperatures for your specific meat type (beef, pork, poultry, etc) and cut of meat (ribeye, sirloin, chops, brisket, drumsticks, etc), monitor the estimated time left, choose from meat presets and doneness levels, and set alarms to notify you when the meat is 5-15 degrees Fahrenheit away from the target temperature. Using your smartphone, you can get temperature readings right at your fingertips even while multitasking.

The probes of a Bluetooth thermometer can be left inside the meat and the grill for the entire duration of the cooking, which allows the cook to be monitored autonomously and continuously. The probes can be left in the meat even after it is taken out of the grill to continuously monitor the temperature of the meat while it rests.

If you are, on the other hand, using a truly Wireless Meat thermometer like the Meater Plus, you just need a probe, a base unit and an app downloaded on your phone to get going. There are absolutely no wires, which makes such thermometers ideal for the rotisserie method of roasting meat involving a rotating spit.

The meat temperature is measured by a sensor located at the tip of the probe, while the grill temperature is measured by the sensor placed at the probe's plastic end. Temperatures are relayed by the probe to the base unit, and then to the mobile device. This entire communication is done through Bluetooth. If the mobile device is connected to Wifi, you can upload the grilling information to the cloud.

Buying Guide- How to Choose the Right Thermometer

1. Kitchen thermometers have to be accurate. Thermometers giving false readings would mislead users into thinking everything is fine with the cooking when the actual situation may be the opposite. This can be particularly damaging for food businesses as inaccurate thermometers can cause the food to get poorly cooked or be unsafe, as a result of which, the image and revenues of the business may suffer, and it may be exposed to litigation and disciplinary action.

2. Digital thermometers may display only a single numeral after the decimal point, thereby measuring up to a tenth of a degree, or they may display two numerals after the decimal point, thereby measuring a hundredth of a degree. Choose the latter as the degree of precision offered is even higher.

3. The temperature readings should not fluctuate when you monitor a single variable/phenomenon at different times. For instance, the boiling point of water is known to be 212 F, but if your thermometer shows three different readings on three occasions that water starts to boil, you would know that your appliance is faulty. The best thermometer would be the one that registers a reading of 212 F every time water boils.

4. The range of temperature that a thermometer can measure must be wide enough for the appliance to be put to multiple uses in the kitchen. So for example, you need to measure around 200 F with a meat thermometer. However, if you are preparing candy or deep frying, you need to deal with temperatures around 400 F. On the other hand, as discussed earlier, alcohol thermometers are not suited to monitor boiling water.

5. Temperature readouts should be quickly available, especially when dealing with temperature-sensitive food items, which can get ruined in case the thermometer dilly-dallies in broadcasting temperatures, thereby delaying necessary interventions.

6. Smart thermometers such as Bluetooth and wi fi thermometers are also attractive choices given the facilities they offer, like remote monitoring, cloud access, alerts, temperature records, and so on. The price of the thermometers and your specific needs are also to be factored in while buying thermometers for your kitchen.

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Cleaning Tips- How to Extend the Shelf-life of Your Thermometer

It's not enough to choose the right thermometer, you have to ensure that it's held under the most hygienic conditions, which would help in extending its shelf life. Unclean thermometers can be a source of Foodborne Illness as much as thermometers that display inaccurate readings, thereby preventing necessary food safety measures.

Probes are inserted into raw meat and into the grill and also come in close contact with marinades, spices, and other ingredients. Consequently, probes can be an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and other pathogens. Using the probes again and again without cleaning and sanitizing them after every cook would result in cross-contamination and easy transmission of microorganisms that cause food poisoning.

The probes, therefore, need to be cleaned with soapy and hot water after each use. Probes can also be cleaned and the discoloration removed by scrubbing with baking soda and white vinegar. Care should be taken to remove all the grime and residue from the robe sensors so that they work efficiently. A paper towel should be used to dry the probes. In case the probes are inserted into several types of meat several times a day, use alcohol wipes for instant cleaning. Use cooking spray if the stains are particularly tough to remove.

The probes can be sanitized by dipping them in boiling water in order to eliminate lingering microorganisms. Alternatively, soak a cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol (with an alcohol content of 60-70%), and use it to rub the prong of the thermometer. Another way of sanitizing your thermometer is to soak the thermometer stem in alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. After the sanitization is complete, use cool water to rinse the thermometer probes.

The tip of the thermometer may be disinfected by soaking it in a chlorine solution for about 10 minutes. Ensure that the chlorine solution is food safe. Then, take the thermometer out of the chlorine solution and wash it with soapy, hot water and let it dry.

Don't use abrasive sanitizers and cleaners. The cloth used to clean and dry the probes should be lint-free. Don't use kitchen towels to dry the thermometers as pathogens can get re-transmitted to the probes from the towel. The best way to dry your thermometer is, in fact, air drying.

Conclusion

Therefore, the importance of kitchen thermometers in the cooking process cannot be overemphasized. Precise temperature readings from thermometers ensure that the food doesn't stray into the Temperature Danger zone, in which bacterial growth increases alarmingly.

According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), this zone covers a temperature range of 40-140 F, while for the National Restaurant Association's food safety training body ServSafe, this zone falls between 41 F and 135 F. Efficient food temperature monitoring is also necessary for cooking the food to the exact level of doneness that suits your taste.

In this regard, if you are looking to grill meat, digital thermometers offer a lot of benefits. They have a wide array of features that analog versions lack.

Bluetooth grill or Bluetooth BBQ thermometers make grilling/smoking/barbequing a breeze. These smart meat thermometers are epitomes of convenience and technological innovation, and allow you to take your barbequing to a whole new level. The Best Bluetooth thermometers, in this regard, are the ThermoPro TP family, Meater family, and Weber igrill family of thermometers. Choose your thermometer judiciously and take good care of it.

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