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How Useful Is a 'Laser' Thermometer?

Fine Cooking Issue 74
Photo: Scott Phillips
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Ever wonder what infrared laser thermometers are? I finally did a little research and discovered that these devices measure the amount of heat (or infrared energy) emitted by an object. The laser component is only for aiming, sending out a thin red beam of light so you know where you’re pointing it. I also found that these thermometers only measure surface temperature, so they can’t help you gauge the doneness of a roast or any other food where you need an internal temperature.

Bonjour, the main manufacturer of infrared thermometers for home use, says they’re intended to measure refrigerator, oven, or pan surface temperatures. I was hoping to also use it to check the temperature of liquids like deep-frying oil or sugar syrup, but the measurements were too inconsistent. It did, however, work very well for tempering melted chocolate, and if you’re fussy about getting your butter softened to a precise 65°F before baking, this thermometer can help. It’s available at Surlatable.com for $89.95.

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