Checking Temperature with Multicookers
Recently there has been an uptick in interest in electric pressure/multi-cookers. Instant Pot, Mealthy, Fagor and even the timeless Crock-Pot brands, among scores of others, are releasing model after model of these time-saving multi-cookers. More and more, we get the question…
Which thermometer should I use when cooking with a multicooker?
The answer really does depend upon how you are planning to use your multicooker.
Using your multicooker as a pressure cooker makes it impossible to check internal food temperatures during the cook. This is because pressure cookers depend upon an airtight seal to increase the air pressure on the food. Locking down the lid of the pressure cooker leaves no room for a thermometer probe cable.
That said, we always recommend checking the final internal temperatures of cooked foods with a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer like our Thermapen.
Meats that are pressure cooked are typically meats rich in collagen that need time to break down, like shoulders, roasts, ribs, and shanks. Final doneness temperatures with these types of meats have less to do with food safety than they do with having reached a high enough internal temperature to render the fats and break down the collagen into moist, savory gelatin. But you can double check your pork shoulder, for example, with your Themapen after the prescribed time for pressure cooking, and make sure the internal temperature of the meat has reached at least 200°F (93°C). If not, you may want to crank up the pressure cooker for a little longer.
Other Uses of the Multicooker
Beyond pressure cooking, there are several other uses of the multicooker with the lid off that DO allow temperature monitoring while you cook. Some of our favorites include:
- Yogurt: Most pressure cookers have a yogurt cycle which is programmed to heat, cool and set the milk in creamy yogurt. Some of these cycles and recipes require pressure while others do not. If you’re not using the pressure setting, then something like the ChefAlarm, ThermaQ or BlueDot with a low alarm will help you cook and cool your milk without having to hover over the vessel for hours on end. If you’ve never tried making yogurt at home, make today the day you change that.
- Sauteing: Some people, especially road warriors and minimalist kitcheneers, only have access to a multicooker for their culinary creations and still want a tender piece of chicken or succulent steak without dealing with other cookware. In that case, an instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen is a must.
- Freestyling: Sometimes there just isn’t a recipe for what you’re trying to cook or you’re trying to convert a conventional or slow cooker recipe into a multicooker masterpiece. When attempting such a feat, especially where utter connective tissue annihilation isn’t key (like it is with carnitas, shredded chicken, and fall-apart roasts), a spot checking thermometer remains key in answering the ageless question of “is it done yet”.
While a thermometer isn’t always necessary when cooking with a multicooker, it can still come in handy. Also, if you ever cook meat, proof dough, make candy or barbeque in your backyard, you need a good timer and both an instant-read and alarming thermometer.
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