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11/04/2011 11:03 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Calibrate A Thermometer

When you purchase a thermometer, it can be off by a few degrees, and that can make a big difference in the kitchen. Chef John Riley of The Culinary Institute of America explains that the easiest way to calibrate the temperature is to dip the probe into a bowl of ice water. Look along the side of the probe and you'll see a small dimple -- that area needs to be submerged to ensure an accurate reading. He holds the nut at the back of the thermometer face with a set of pliers. Submerge the thermometer -- it should be 32 degrees in the ice water. If that's not what the thermometer reads, turn the face of the thermometer clockwise until the red arrow points to 32 degrees. Once you've done this, your thermometer is calibrated.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm John Reilly from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to calibrate a thermometer.

A thermometer is a very important tool for any chef to use. When you purchase a thermometer, it's not always 100% accurate. It could be off by a few degrees above or below, and that could make a big difference in the outcome of what we're trying to work with. The manufacturer suggests that we stick a new thermometer into ice, and see what temperature it reads.

As we look along the prod, there's always a little notch, a little dimple. That dimple is the part that must be submerged in the water. Behind the thermometer, we'll find there is a nut. With a set of pliers or a leatherman, we're going to hold onto that nut, and we're going to submerge the probe part in the water, and we watch. The ice water is at 32 degrees. We're going to adjust by turning, clockwise, the face of the thermometer, until the red hand reaches 32 degrees. Then it's calibrated.

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