Author Topic: Why didn't I think of this earlier??? Temp monitoring solution  (Read 877 times)

Offline sarak

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Why didn't I think of this earlier??? Temp monitoring solution
« on: January 18, 2014, 09:29:23 PM »
I have no idea why this only occurred to me now.  Seriously.

If I could pick one thing that always seems to trip me up it is missing when when the temp of the milk has gotten out of range.  I have inadvertently over heated many batches (creating many new types of edible cheese, I hope).  My problem is that I use a thermapen instant read digital thermometer.  Which means that I need to THINK "gee, I should check the temperature" and then do it. Simple, right?  Not when you have a twelve year old daughter, husband, four dogs, two cats, 10 chickens, a rooster, four goats, a llama all to be taken care of AND the inevitable multitasking that comes with a full time job that is never quite 9-5 (I'm a physician, actually). 

So last weekend I broke down and used one of those old-fashioned thermometers that clips to the side of the pot.  That was an improvement.  I just needed to walk by and check without having to clean the thermapen between uses.  Besides, there is always chocolate in the fridge in my house, and really, dark chocolate is good for you, RIGHT?  Perhaps not in the quantities I consume.  Just like patients always underestimate their drinking, I consistently underestimate the amount of chocolate I eat.  Only my husband knows, and then not really, since there is the little girl to blame.  Anyway, the point is  that I am often wandering through the kitchen, so the old-fashioned thermometer worked - as long as I was hanging around in the kitchen.

Well, some days are more exhausting than others.  Sometimes a good veg on the couch is in order.  Or perhaps it is time to go outside and feed bits of carrot to the baby goats - or milk the momma goat.  Sometimes I just want to be able to hang out reading posts on cheeseforum.org - you know? 

That's when I remembered the gift I gave my husband this Christmas - a WIRELESS BARBECUE THERMOMETER.  The 6 inch "food" probe is hanging into a gallon of milk I am currently pasteurizing.  The temp has climbed to 151F, but I turned off the heat and removed the lid, so I am not worried.  And best of all, I can check the temp at my computer, on the couch, outside, in the bathtub (yeah, right).  Anyway - I CAN'T RECCOMEND THIS ENOUGH!  I definitely thinks it compensates for the inattention that comes from a glass or two of wine, too.  :)  Also, you can set an alarm to alert you when it has dropped above or below a certain temp.  Perfect.



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Offline Anonymous

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Re: Why didn't I think of this earlier??? Temp monitoring solution
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2014, 10:58:26 PM »
Nice find! This certainly adds a bit of a "set-it-and-forget-it" aspect.

Offline Tiarella

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Re: Why didn't I think of this earlier??? Temp monitoring solution
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2014, 06:55:18 AM »
Thanks for your in-depth report.  My issue is that I wander into my nearby home office just to do a little something while the milk heats or coagulates and miss the target temp or floc point when I decide I really should return that email or write out those shipping labels.  It's amazing to me how easily and quickly I forget I have something on the stove!   ???

Offline seemunkee

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Re: Why didn't I think of this earlier??? Temp monitoring solution
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014, 08:13:34 AM »
Could have used one yesterday.  I turned the burner on for "just a minute" since the water bath had dropped a few degrees.  Next thing i know it has gone up to 120, when I only needed it at 90. 

Offline Tiarella

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Re: Why didn't I think of this earlier??? Temp monitoring solution
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014, 09:04:41 AM »
Could have used one yesterday.  I turned the burner on for "just a minute" since the water bath had dropped a few degrees.  Next thing i know it has gone up to 120, when I only needed it at 90.

Oh!  I have so been there, done that!   ;)


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Offline Boofer

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Re: Why didn't I think of this earlier??? Temp monitoring solution
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 11:10:40 AM »
Yes, and then off the heat and into a cold water bath in the sink to correct the mistake! Somewhat familiar. ;)

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Offline cowboycheese

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Re: Why didn't I think of this earlier??? Temp monitoring solution
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2014, 11:38:31 AM »
Ah yes - and trying all the time to look like you planned it that way when you are being watched by the less curd-informed...    8)

Offline Tiarella

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« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2014, 12:07:51 PM »
Oh Boofer, I have even gone back and forth a few times from hot to cold water baths, overshooting each direction.   :-[

I feel for you, Cowboy!  At least no one is watching me!!

Offline John@PC

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Re: Why didn't I think of this earlier??? Temp monitoring solution
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2014, 06:29:44 PM »
Simple, right?  Not when you have a twelve year old daughter, husband, four dogs, two cats, 10 chickens, a rooster, four goats, a llama all to be taken care of AND the inevitable multitasking that comes with a full time job that is never quite 9-5 (I'm a physician, actually). 
Whew, I'm worn out just reading that  ;)!  Having overheating a few batches of my own (with no excuses near as good as yours) one suggestion I would offer is to do a dry (actually "wet") run using water in you pan or pot instead of milk.  Whether using a water bath, hot plate, gas burner or griddle each method of heating has it's idiosyncrasies, lag times, overshoots, etc.  Doing some tests with water in your pan of choice will help you establish the best parameters especially when controlling temperature ramp rates when you're making cheeses that require cooking the curds.

One other suggestion is if you're using a non-certified thermometer (which we all do because we can't afford certified thermometers ::)) do a calibration check.  The best time to do this is when your doing your steam sterilization (212F) followed by a low-temp check in ice water (32F).  You don't have to do this each batch but be aware that digital probes can be fouled over time especially in the acidic whey and give off-readings.