Caring for your Thermapen

The SuperFast Thermapen is a popular digital food thermometer that is easy to use, clean and maintain. For best results, please see below tips on how to care for your digital thermometer:

  1. 1. Ensure the body of the Thermapen does not get too hot.

    The “Golden Rule” is that the SuperFast Thermapen is very quick to measure temperature, if the heat is too high for your hand (without a protective mitt) it is most likely too hot for the Thermapen body.

    • • Never leave the Thermapen inside an oven, smoker, or microwave while cooking
    • • Do not leave it under heat lamps or on a hot surface (e.g. grill hood)
  2. 2. Temperatures above 300°C can cause internal damage to the probe
    • • Never put the Thermapen probe on a coal or into an open flame
    • • Be careful when closing the Thermapen probe after use, the probe is metal and may be very hot to the touch
  3. 3. A Silicone Boot will provide additional protection
    • • Silicone offers short-term protection from radiant or contact heat in high-heat environments
    • • Silicone will cushion the Thermapen from knocks and drops, even a drop onto concrete
    • • The boot fits snugly and is easy to remove for cleaning
  4. 4. Do NOT put your Thermapen in the dishwasher
    • • The SuperFast Thermapen is splash-proof/waterproof to IP66/67 and will resist exposure to wet hands and splashes from cooking liquids but cannot be submerged in water or any other liquid
  5. 5. Regularly clean your Thermapen
    • Anti-bacterial Wipes are recommended to clean both the body and probe
    • • A simple soap solution / anti-bacterial spray cleaner and paper towel is also an effective cleaning tool
    • • The Thermapen’s ergonomic housing design is almost seamless with very few cracks or crevices where food can get caught and is very easy to clean
    • • Special care is advised when cleaning the rotating hub at the top of the Thermapen housing and the probe retention groove at the bottom
  6. 6. Try to avoid getting moisture, flour, or oil in the rotating hub
    • • The Thermapen features an O-ring seal to prevent foreign materials entering the unit, however oils and fine powders can still work their way past the seal and accumulate over time causing problems with the electrical components
  7. 7. Avoid cross-contamination
    • • Each time meat is tested, the Thermapen probe may be exposed to harmful bacteria
    • • Wipe the Thermapen probe clean after every use
    • • The precautions taken when using a knife or cutting board should be applied to a thermometer probe
    • • Any non-tainting, anti-bacterial wipe or spray cleaner and paper towels can effectively sanitise the Thermapen probe tip

Caring for your Thermometer Probe

Thermometer temperature probes are precision measurement devices. There is an electronic sensor at the probe tip with wires running through the probe tube. With proper care, your probe will provide consistent accurate readings for a long time.

Avoid Damage: Cleaning: Accurate Use:

How to get an Accurate Temperature Reading using your Thermapen

Thermocouple Technology

Typically only found in professional-grade thermometers, the Thermapen features a micro-thermocouple at the very tip of its probe shaft. A thermocouple is a set of two heat-sensitive wires that produce a voltage related to temperature difference. It is this key component that sets the Thermapen apart from other instant-read thermometers. The economical size of micro-thermocouple means the Thermapen only needs to be inserted by approximately 3mm to get an accurate reading (other cooking thermometers may need 12mm or more).

Achieving Accurate Temperature Readings

Taking a temperature reading with your Thermapen is as simple as placing the very tip of the probe in the area where a temperature measurement is needed. When testing doneness in foods it is recommended to test the middle of the thickest portion as generally, it will be the coldest part. Likewise, when chilling food, the thickest part’s centre will be the last portion to cool. With larger foods, compile readings from several locations to verify that the entire item is done. It is not uncommon for parts of a large roast or turkey to vary by as much as 10 to 15°C. Even a steak or a boneless chicken breast can show many degrees difference as the tip moves from the surface toward the centre, or from end to end.

To get a proper reading from the Thermapen, when inserting the probe tip into the thickest part of the meat, make an effort to avoid any obvious bone or gristle. Take note of the temperature. You will be able to watch in real-time the temperature changing depending on the depth of penetration. If the meat has already been cooked on both sides the temperature readings will start to increase when you continue to push past the middle of the thickest part showing exactly where the centre of the meat actually is. That is the best place to gauge doneness.

Experiment with your Thermapen and gain confidence in quickly and effectively obtaining accurate readings of your piece of meat, roast, or whole bird. For larger foods, remember to test in several places and depths to gauge overall progress during cooking. Lesser quality thermometers such as dial types or slower digitals may not show as much temperature difference due to lack of speed and sensitivity. For quick and accurate temperature readings you need a thermometer like the Thermapen that can show the exact temperature at its tip.

Food for thought: Many experts recommend inserting your thermometer probe from the side of a steak or patty to ensure that you get the probe tip right in the centre (where the temperature will be the lowest). You can use a pair of tongs to gently lift the piece of meat off the heat.

Customising your Thermapen

You can personalise your Thermapen by changing the following settings:

To change your settings, open your compartment (see How to Change the Batteries) and, using the tip of a bent paper clip, flip the appropriate switch.

Switch 1: Display Units

The default factory setting for your Thermapen unit display is °C. To display °F, move Switch 1 to the “on” position (away from the batteries).

Switch 2: Resolution

The default factory setting for your Thermapen resolution display is to show temperatures at tenths of a degree (0.1°) for both °F and °C. To change to whole numbers (1°), move Switch 2 away from the batteries.

Switch 3: Disable Auto-off

The default factory setting for your Thermapen is with the auto-off feature enabled to preserve battery life. This means your Thermapen will turn itself off ten minutes after you extend the probe and turn it on. Once off, you will have to close the probe and extend it again to turn the Thermapen back on. To disable this auto-off feature while taking lengthy readings, move Switch 3 to the “on” position (away from the batteries) Please note: With auto-off disabled, your Thermapen will stay on and continue using battery power if you forget to close the probe.

Switch 4: Trim Adjust

This feature allows you to set an offset that will automatically add or subtract a number of degrees from your Thermapen readings. It should NOT be needed for normal use.

Changing the Batteries

How to change SuperFast Thermapen 3 Batteries

The Thermapen MK3 comes with two CR2032 (3V) coin batteries pre-installed, enough to power the Thermapen for about 1,500 hours!

An illuminated battery symbol will appear when it is time to change the batteries. The accuracy of your Thermapen will not be compromised, but the display will stop working when battery power is gone. Once the batteries are too low to power the display, the display will show “Flat Bat” and then shut off. Replace both batteries to continue using the Thermapen.

Start by carefully removing the battery cover. Insert a coin into the slot and using firm but even pressure, rotate the battery cover counter-clockwise about a quarter of an inch as marked on the bottom of the Thermapen 3 housing. Lift the cover from the hole with the edge of the coin or with your fingernail. Remove the old batteries and set both of the new ones in, one on top of the other, with the positive sides up.

Make sure that the metal clip provided snaps over the batteries to hold them in place. Carefully replace the battery cover.

Please Note: The battery cover may be tight in order to maintain splash resistance, but be careful not to over-rotate. The tabs that hold the battery cover in place are made of molded plastic and can break if forced.

How to Change SuperFast Thermapen 4 Batteries

The Thermapen MK4 comes with one AAA (1.5V) battery pre-installed enough to power the Thermapen for about 3,000 hours without the backlight. A low battery symbol “ will appear when the battery needs replacing. In this condition, the backlight is automatically set to a low level to save battery life. The instrument continues to measure accurately but we recommend that the battery is changed as soon as possible.

To replace the battery, remove the battery cover with a pozi (PZ1) screwdriver. Remove the battery by pulling the battery retaining clip back (do not over extend). Replace the battery, positive end first before screwing the battery cover back down.

Please Note: Do not use excessive force when refitting the battery cover ensuring it is compressed against the seal.

Creating a Properly Made Ice Bath

The easiest way to test the accuracy of any thermometer is in a properly made ice bath. If done correctly, your ice bath (aka ice slurry) will be 0°C within ±0.1°C. If you are not careful, the ice bath can be off by several whole degrees (just a cup with ice water in it can be up to 12 or more degrees too high).

1Step 1: Fill with ice

The key factor in making a successful ice bath is keeping a proper ice-to-water ratio. Fill a container all the way to the top with ice. Crushed ice is preferred because there are fewer gaps between the ice, however cubed ice will also work fine.

2Step 2: Add Water

Slowly add water to fill the spaces between the ice, stopping when the water reaches about 12mm (½”) below the top of the ice. Wait approximately two minutes to allow the temperature of the water to settle. IF you see the ice starting to float off the bottom of the container, pour off some water and add more ice. Any water below the ice will not be at 0°C.

3Step 3: Insert the Probe

Once the mixture has rested for a minute or two, insert your probe (or thermometer stem) into the mixture and continuously stir in the vertical centre of the ice slurry. Stirring equilibrates the temperature throughout the container and prevents the sensor from resting against an ice cube and affecting your reading. It is crucial to keep the probe tip from touching the side walls and against the bottom of the container. Doing so will give you inaccurate temperature readings.

NB: If the thermometer has an extremely fast and sensitive needle tip (eg SuperFast Thermapen) you MUST gently stir the probe or you will find colder and warmer spots in the ice bath.

4Step 4: Confirm Calibration

At this point your thermometer should read 0°C. If you are testing a dial thermometer, adjust the dial as directed by the manufacturer. For digital instant-read thermometers, check if the readings are within the manufacturers accuracy specifications (look for a ±°C on the documentation included with the instrument) before attempting adjustments. If it is within the specified tolerance, don’t adjust.

As a whole, it is ideal to keep track of your calibrations to monitor the performance of your thermometer over a period of time. Misuse can cause the instrument to fall out of spec more often, and a record of temperatures may help you recognise mishandling and take corrective actions to preserve the maximum life of the thermometer.

Temperature Display Fluctuates

If the Thermapen numbers are changing, the food’s temperature is changing!

Food temperature is very dynamic, particularly while it is cooking. A common misconception is that cooking thermometers should be like bathroom scales or speed guns and lock in on the temperature once it is detected. As food temperature changes, having that information instantly relayed can be considerably beneficial. The SuperFast Thermapen is fast and accurate enough to display minute changes in the temperature as it occurs.

It can take 2 or 3 seconds for the Thermapen to move from the ambient temperature (room temperature) to the temperature of a food or liquid. Once established though, its micro-thermocouple is very quick to sense and display the constant temperature changes (the display refreshes every half-second).

Of course, these minor changes can be hidden by changing the display resolution of the Thermapen from tenths to whole numbers (see Customising Your Thermapen). Whole numbers can be very comforting.

(with tenths)
(without tenths)