Candy thermometers are designed for stovetop recipes where close monitoring of temperature is key—especially candy-making and deep-frying. The thermometer stays in the liquid during cooking. But which brand is best? To find out, we brought several models into the test kitchen and made multiple batches of caramel for our Turtle Brownies.
Thermometers with the simplest style—a plain glass tube—worked fine, but they are also fragile and the gradations were hard to read. What's more, a few models had a tendency to slide down and touch the bottom of the pan, giving a false reading. Similar thermometers with a metal "foot" to keep the thermometer off the pan bottom didn't work in a small (shallow) batch of caramel and were also hard to read. Dial-face thermometers required as much as 2 1/2 inches of liquid—a rarity when making candies.
By far, digital thermometers are best: quick to respond, precise, and easy to read. Most digital models have easy-to-read consoles and alarm features that warn the cook when the caramel is done. But they tend to be top-heavy, with a precarious grip on the saucepan. The one we originally liked best had the most reliable grip, and it's a decent choice. But essential? Probably not. An good instant-read thermometer capable of registering temperatures up to 400 degrees is just as reliable and can also be used to check the temperatures of roasts, breads, sauces, and more.
Still, we wanted something more like our favorite thermometer for roasts in which a long wire separates the "brains" from the business end. Then we found a probe thermometer model that comes with a mounting clip that lets you attach the probe to your pan. An on/off switch would be nice (to save batteries over time), but it still gets our top recommendation for its clip-on ease.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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