#1  
Old 07-23-2009, 03:07 PM
Serf
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eugene
Posts: 6
Default Thermometer Question for Pro's

Hi everybody.
I am just starting to use my oven and was wondering about what type of thermometer you are using. I see that one of those point and shoot infrared laser digital thermometers is recommended but I was wondering if one of those old fashioned metal ones that you just set into the oven would work.

Where in the oven are you supposed to take the reading anyhow? I know that floor, wall, and air temps can all greatly vary.

Thanks!!!!!
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2009, 03:26 PM
Mitchamus's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Sydney & Snowy Mountains
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Default Re: Thermometer Question for Pro's

The biggest problem (IMO) is that while you have an active fire in the oven,
the traditional type thermometers are wildly inaccurate since they are also being heated from the radiant heat from the fire.

to get a proper reading of say the floor temp, you would need to shield the unit with several layers of foil to stop the radiant heat from effecting the reading.

While that's not so much a problem.. it's definitely a pain in the a**!

Traditional thermometers are good for measuring the temperature when baking (with no active fire)

Someone might refute this, but this is my experience anyway.
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  #3  
Old 07-23-2009, 03:43 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 1,719
Default Re: Thermometer Question for Pro's

I have a Raytek infrared thermometer and find it both fun (answering curiousities such as what is the temperature of a cat's tongue) and practical (you can find where you have insulation leaks on your house or insulated windows that are faulty). And yes, I use it a lot for baking - but in my indoor oven, not in my WFO. I did...and sometimes do use it with the WFO, but not often.

If you have a good pizza fire going with flames going 2/3 of the way up the dome you probably have a dome temperature of about 900 to 950 which is IMO about right.

I actually find I prefer to measure the temp of the hearth by tossing a small handful of semolina on the hearth. If the temperature is right it will take about three seconds for the semolina to suddenly turn black. (Yellow, Yellow, Black at the three counts). It's been so long since I used the thermometer I can't even recall that temperature - I think its about 650, maybe 700. Regular flour and cornmeal behave about the same. I haven't used rice flour so I can't comment but it should be reasonably similar (might be 2 seconds or 4 but... with a little experience and it won't take long - you will know how long it takes to char (rice, semolina, cornmeal, whatever you use) to the hearth temp you like!

If you want a temperature for slow cooking (i.e. no fire or minimal fire) the cheap, ALL METAL thermometer will work fine but it won't work well when the flames are large.

Hope that helps!
Jay
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Old 07-23-2009, 04:53 PM
Dutchoven's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 931
Default Re: Thermometer Question for Pro's

We have used all of the above...in our experience surface temperatures are much more important and a point and shoot infrared is the simplest...FB store has one, some of ours members have used Harbor Freight tools...just make sure you get one that goes high enough for the WFO...950-1000F...sometimes it is nice to see where the floor is hot enough for placing the next pizza...
Hope this helps!
Dutch
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:17 PM
Serf
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Illinois, USA
Posts: 12
Default Re: Thermometer Question for Pro's

Harbor freight currently has a sale on the one that goes to 970F/520C for $30.

- Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices

I think the sale goes to 12/August and I suppose that before then I'll have a weak moment and get one, then I can post about it here...
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  #6  
Old 07-23-2009, 08:42 PM
timo's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Northern Illinois
Posts: 126
Default Re: Thermometer Question for Pro's

I just got the Harbor Freight unit that goes up to 968 degrees F for $26.92 out the door using a 15% off coupon. Seems to work well and no issues so far. They sent me another coupon good for 20% off any item to be used 24th-27th, but I'll be gone on vacation and won't have a chance to use it. If someone can use it:

Here's the link. I am guessing can only be used once. Good luck. Timo
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  #7  
Old 07-24-2009, 06:29 AM
CanuckJim's Avatar
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Prince Albert, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,479
Default Re: Thermometer Question for Pro's

Timo,

One of the central things I tell the people who come here for bread and pizza workshops is that air temperature in a wood fired oven is misleading. You're really baking on thoroughly heated brick, so the air temp is irrelevant, except, maybe, for slow cooked dishes at very low heat. We don't use an air temp gauge here; besides it can be difficult to find an accurate one that reads higher than 550F. Good pizza baking (45-90 seconds) is entirely dependant on the temp of the hearth and dome bricks, plus the size of the live fire.

Baking in a WFO requires a bit of a head switch, therefore. Here we use thermocouples imbedded in the brick to give us true brick temps. We also have a gun, but it's mostly for demonstration. Nothing at all against guns, but we just find the thermos better at reading saturated temps, rather than surface temps.

In the end, no matter what system you use, experience is the best guide.

Jim
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Old 07-24-2009, 06:37 AM
timo's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Northern Illinois
Posts: 126
Default Re: Thermometer Question for Pro's

I totally differ to the experts on this. Since I have no experience with temps at that level I don't have a clue about temps, that's why I thought with the gun I would at least be close to knowing what a temperature looked like.

Like you said, I am sure with experience you get to know your oven and how it acts at certain temps.

My father-in-law mentioned he had some thermocouples from his restaurant days, maybe I can give that a try.
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  #9  
Old 07-24-2009, 07:09 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 1,719
Default Re: Thermometer Question for Pro's

The nice thing about thermocouples is that they can give you an idea of how well heat loaded your oven is - which is important for baking. For pizza the surface temp is more critical. Yes, you need some heat loading but by the time your oven clears you have some enough loading to have a good surface temp. For bread though you need enough residual heat that you can knock the temp down when you load it with bread and spritz the interior with water AND it will rebound back up to baking temperatures - and ideally three or more times, at least twice. For that you need a deeper heat load and longer firing. And the only way to know that is thermocouples and/or experience. The gun will only tell you the surface!

I mainly use my gun on the oven when I want to know the temp of the hearth when I put in my bread or when I am putting in something to slow cook (a curiosity more than a need for it is what it is in most cases).
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  #10  
Old 07-24-2009, 08:33 AM
Serf
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eugene
Posts: 6
Default Re: Thermometer Question for Pro's

Hey Thanks for the great responses! Yeah, so far I have just been heating the oven up....add a bit more wood...let it burn down. Stick my hand near the door "Wow - that feels hot!!!" Must be ready - and cook! Then it is just a game of watching the food. The reason I asked the question is that I want to get a bit more technical with my cooking and start baking other things other then pizza.

Once again thanks for the responses
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