THE EPICA SUPERFAST PEN SHAPE THERMOMETER: BETTER BAKING BY DEGREE

Epica Superfast Pen Shape Stem Thermometer ES-432

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Pros: Ease of use.  Bargain price.  Prompt and accurate display of temperature.  Stem length sufficient to avoid burns.

Cons: Of Chinese origin.  Small LCD screen.  Protective sheath covers stem, not controls.

I had resisted the concept of instant-read technology for purely old-fashioned reasons.  Aside from making candy, my mother never used a thermometer to cook – and her holiday meals contained a cornucopia of courses, prepared to perfection.

Then along came my favorite European baking book – purchased just prior to the Borders demise.  Not only have the customary American measurements been replaced by weight, their respective state-of-done is determined by means of precise internal temperature.  The particular demands of this stellar publication had dragged me into the 21st century.

Configuration

This keen kitchen gadget is simple and streamlined.  The upper panel contains an On/Off button, located below the one used to activate the Maximum/Minimum Reading Memory. The LCD digital temperature readout screen measures 3/4 x 3/8 inch – small, but the numbers fill the screen.

On the reverse is found the Centigrade/Fahrenheit selector button and one for Reset – used to erase an “abnormal” reading.  In two-years of frequent use, I’ve yet to encounter one of these.  When idle, the unit is designed to shut itself off after 10 minutes.

The 5-inch stainless steel stem (probe) has a tapered point and polished surface which wipes clean easily. For storage, the hard plastic sheathing slides over the stem and clicks securely to the panel.  For convenience, a substantial pocket clip allows the cook to wear the device between readings.  The clip also features a tapered screw slot on which the sheathing can be slide-mounted to a solid vertical surface.

The Epica Superfast ES-432 uses a button-cell battery (LR44), accessed on the flip-side of the display panel.  The measuring range is -58 to +392 degrees Fahrenheit.

Accuracy

A number of methods exist to which accuracy can be determined.  Most seem labor-intensive.  Within two seconds of activation, I stood in front of a mirror and placed the probe under my tongue.  In approximately 8 seconds, I had a reading of 97.9 – which is my normal temperature.  This is by far the easiest method that doesn’t involve ice.

Application

Gone are the days where tapping on bread can determine when it’s done.  Due to variations in texture and the density of add-ins, a number of whole grain and artisan breads won’t conform to this method – unless the baker is a bread savant or professional.  For most recipes I’ve used, the ideal internal temperature at the completion of the baking cycle is 200 degrees (all temps Fahrenheit).  If I go to the trouble and expense of baking my own bread, the confidence and success instilled by such digital assurance is well-worth the price of admission.

I make yogurt on a regular basis.  The desired temperature for inclusion of the starter is around 100 degrees.  With my Epica Superfast thermometer, I know exactly when conditions are ideal.

Fowl Play

When roasting chicken, most amateur chefs have a tendency to overcook their bird to avoid the dreaded pink-around-the-joint.  The ideal temperature for breast meat is 160 degrees, while the thickest part of the thigh requires a reading of 177.  By determining doneness by degree rather than time, overcooking is less likely – resulting in a more moist and tender bird.

Say What?

Although the Epica is listed as “Dishwasher Safe to 190 Degrees”, the specs refer to it as merely “Water Resistant” and the Care and Cleaning Instructions advise to “Never submerge the device completely in water”.  For what it’s worth, the Epica has an IP (Ingress Protection) rating of 65 – equal to the watertight properties of a professional-quality camera.

Overall Value

A leading culinary magazine declared their “best buy” of instant-read thermometers to be one in excess of $80 (US).  Sure, the display may be bigger, but for around $20, the Epica Superfast Pen Shape Stem Thermometer has been an accurate and economical assist – enabling successful outcomes amongst my frequent epicurean pursuits.

EPI, Inc.

Brick, NJ  08723

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