| Kamado Joe "MoJoe" Newscast||January 2011 |
Kamado Joe Company
4034 Enterprise Way
Flowery Branch, GA 30542
| Product Review: Thermapen
Fast, accurate...and expensive.
I started my search for a cooking thermometer with
a certain amount of bias. I've been an outdoor cooker for 30 years who
has relied on time, external temperature and my own cooking instinct for
doneness. To me, it almost seems like cheating to use a thermometer.
I searched Amazon’s website to read reviews on a number of thermometers.
I have seen the ads for the Thermapen and I was intrigued by the
reviews yet a little apprehensive about the cost ($96). Should something
so simple cost so much? Apparently. In the Thermapen’s defense, it is the
thermometer used on America’s Test Kitchen TV show and it's also used and
recommended by Cooks Illustrated.
The 56 Amazon reviews were overwhelmingly in favor of the product and
there were only three negative reviews related to breaking after the
one-year warranty and one reviewer who allowed liquid to seep into the
electronics. The Thermapen is promoted as water-resistant not
water-proof; you cannot submerge it water.
Each Thermapen is assembled and calibrated by hand in England and it's available in eleven colors. The Thermapen includes a handwritten calibration
certificate, 20-page guide and a handy laminated temperature chart for a
variety of meats, foods and candy. The 20-page guide is a 15 minute read and well worth the
time. It details what the Thermapen does (fast accurate temperatures) and what it does not do (It won't lock in on a reading). The guide also offers
some good instructions on cooking such as finding a target temperature
and the importance of resting meat after cooking.
I was surprised by the size of the Thermapen; it was twice as large as I
expected. I assumed it was the size of a pocket knife, but it's 6" long. The size allows for a large digital readout that's very readable. It has an
auto-off feature so if you leave the probe
extended it will shut itself off in 10 minutes. You can disable this
feature with a switch located inside the battery case and there are
three other adjustments for changing the readout to °C, adjusting the
readout to whole numbers (no tenths) and a trim adjustment to
recalibrate, but this should not be necessary.
First, I used the ice bath and boiling tests recommended in the guide
and the Thermapen passed easily. Water boils at different temperatures
based on you elevation; the higher the elevation the lower the
temperature. It’s 212°F at sea level, but in Denver Colorado it's
202.7°F. The ThermoWorks website has a handy calculator to determine
your boiling point. Based on my elevation it should be 210.55°F and it
fell within a tenth of a degree on either side of the target. As I mentioned, the
Thermapen does not lock onto a specific number. It will give
you a correct temperature within three seconds, but it constantly
adjusts itself as it reads temperature.
Over the last month I used the Thermapen on a variety of meats and
cooking methods. I've used it on steaks to get the center to medium rare
at 125°F, then let it rest five minutes for a final temperature of
132°F. Perfect. I also slow cooked a pork tenderloin to medium at 140°F
by pulling it off at 133°F, wrapping in aluminum foil and allowing it to
rest for 10 minutes for a final temperature of 139°F. Perfect again. In
all the other tests the Thermapen gave a final temperature within three
seconds, which is nice if you’re cooking at a high temperature.
– 3-second readings
– High level of accuracy
– Water-resistant design
– °F to °C reconfigurable
– 0.1° resolution full range to 572°F
– Instant on/off when the probe is extended
– 1,500 hour battery life
– Handy laminated temperature guide
– Big clear digital readout
– Auto shut-off feature
– High Cost (depending on your budget)
– Designed for right-handed users (clumsy if you’re left-handed)
– No display light for cooking after dark
– One-year warranty (should be two-year given the price)
The Last Word
The Thermapen does everything it promises. It offers almost
instantaneous temperatures that are easy to read and accurate. The
reviews and recommendations for the Thermapen say it is worth the price,
but that's up to the individual. A couple of years of use will tell me
if it was worth the investment.
If you can’t swallow the price tag there are other flip stick style
thermometer models on the market by Fisher and VWR. The latter states an
accuracy of ±1.0°C for $30 or an accuracy of ±0.3°C for $50. Search
Google or Amazon for “flip stick thermometer”.
* Derald Schultz, Kamado Joe
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