Food Temperatures – What is This All About?
Do you watch Hell’s Kitchen? I do, religiously. He’s always saying “It’s f*@$ing raw!” He yells at the chef contestants for attempting to serve undercooked chicken to pregnant women. He smashes fish fillets that are raw. “Touch it, it’s ice cold.” “I’m sorry, chef, it’s just a little underdone.” “Bloody hell, it’s ice cold!” It’s all about the food temperature!
It’s not for dramatic purposes. Okay, some of it is. And it does make for dramatic and entertaining television.
But, he also says this because we need to have a minimum food temperature (for any kind of protein) so it is safe for us to eat and not get sick. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to go to the hospital because of something I ate. Especially if I was the one who cooked it!
He also makes the chef contestants touch the steaks, and asks them what temperature it is. “I asked for it medium, not bloody overcooked!” he screams, as everyone in the restaurant looks on. That is because a chef learns how to know the temperature of the steak by the firmness of the meat when it is cooked (or not cooked). If it’s soft, it’s rare, but when it’s hard, it’s well done. This is sometimes done because chefs know what temperature is best for a steak, but it is also up to the customer. If they want it cremated, the chef should cook it until it is burned beyond recognition.
So learning about food temperatures is very important for cooking, for enjoyment, and for health.
The Lesson on Food Temperatures
Eating proteins that are undercooked can put harmful bacteria in your body, such as Salmonella or E Coli.
Salmonella is a bacteria that gets into your intestinal tract (think digestion area) and can cause food poisoning and diarrhea. Most of the media issues with this is from people eating raw eggs. This is usually caused by chickens that laid eggs when they were infected.
E Coli is another bacteria that gets into your intestinal tract, causing the same type of symptoms as Salmonella. This usually comes from infected meat. But if you cook the meat to a high enough temperature, it will kill any bacteria that just happens to be in the meat. Just remember, the meat has to be infected for it to get into you, which is why the media will do news articles about recalls on meat that has been infected. They are trying to get it off the shelves before people buy it and cook it, potentially improperly.
‘But what about eating raw eggs in a protein shake’, you may ask. ‘Bodybuilders do this all the time!’ Or eating the raw cookie dough! ‘I love me some raw cookie dough!’ Or eating steak tartare? What about that? ‘They serve that in restaurants!’ This is all very true. A little bit of these kinds of things is probably not going to hurt you , but don’t do it too often.
What am I Supposed to Do?
So, what am I supposed to do, then? Become a vegetarian, in order to keep my body protected? Heck to the no! There is no way this diy home goddess would ever turn vegetarian, and I am not advocating you do it either. If you want to, that’s your choice, but I love meat too much to give it up.
Rather, you need to make sure your meat and eggs are cooked to the proper temperature. Yeah, you can guess. The recipe will tell you to cook the pot roast for one and a half hours. But you also have to take into consideration your oven’s temperature failings and quirks.
Get a temperature probe! You can get them on www.amazon.com, www.bedbathandbeyond.com, any cooking store, any department store. You can get pretty good ones under $50, most doable ones under $25. Www.taylorprecisionproducts.com has been around for over 150 years, and they specialize in household solutions, and measurements. So they are the perfect company for temperature probes. I have one, and have no problems with it. I also have on by www.foodnetwork.com that I purchased at Kohls. Do some research online at amazon, read some reviews, and find one that fits your budget and your needs. Just make sure you get a meat thermometer, and not a candy one. My ex got me a candy thermometer. As a result, I never used it; he couldn’t understand candy and meat probes weren’t the same thing.
The other thing to remember is no cross contamination. If you have raw meat:
- Don’t let it touch other foods
- Wash the surface before you use it before you put other things on it.
- Always wash your hands after handling raw meat.
- Wash the utensils that touched the raw protein before you use them on other foods.
- Switch to another cutting board. Here’s my article about having multiple cutting boards
Food Temperature Chart
Here is a handy chart for the basic items a diy home goddess will cook. Also, don’t forget to rest red meats (the juices will go back into the meat), and remember, the temperature will raise a bit more as it’s resting. If you go here, you will find more food choices than you could ever imagine to use a temperature probe for!
|Food Temperature Chart – Fahrenheit|
|Beef, Veal, Lamb – Roasts, Steaks, Chops||Rare||125 (rest 3 + minutes)|
|Medium Rare||130-135 (rest 3 + minutes)|
|Medium||135-140 (rest 3 + minutes)|
|Medium Well||140-150 (rest 3 + minutes)|
|Well||155 + (rest 3 + minutes)|
|Ground Beef, Pork||160|
|Chicken (any part, pieces or whole)||165|
|Pork Roast/Chops||Medium||150 (rest 3 + minutes)|
|Well||160 (rest 3 + minutes)|
|Ham||160 (rest 3 + minutes)|
|Fish with fins||145|
|Fish in shells||Until the shells open (discard ones that don’t open)|
And there you have it. Food temperature to keep your body healthy and safe. And to make tasty food. If you want a hard copy print out to place on your refrigerator, my download of the above chart is here.