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Questions:

1) Is there a way to test or calibrate my oven temperature?
2) I'm almost 3000 ft above sea level. I know that for boiling water that makes a difference. May I assume that for ovens that will also make a difference?
2a) If so, should I cook longer or cook hotter?

Reason:
I've noticed that every time I cook anything, it isn't done when the recipe says it should be. Being a very novice cook, I find this extremely frustrating AND I'm too ignorant to know how to adjust properly. If someone could give me a rule of thumb, please?

CrestlineKathy - you probably would know for sure if altitude is affecting me.

TIA,
Frydaze1
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RE: Fryd: "I'm almost 3000 ft above sea level. I know that for boiling water that makes a difference. May I assume that for ovens that will also make a difference?"

It doesn't make as much difference in the oven. For leavened items it can alter rising action which can be adjusted with either ingredient amounts or temperature. Here's a good site:

http://www.baking911.com/howto_high_altitudes.htm

SB (do you have a GOOD oven thermometer?)

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http://www.baking911.com/howto_high_altitudes.htm

SB (do you have a GOOD oven thermometer?)


Thanks!

It says:
"Oven temperature - Increase 15 to 25°F, except when baking chocolate or delicate cakes, which might burn.

Baking time - Decrease the amount of time your recipe bakes. Reason - Higher oven temperature. "

Frydaze1(I don't even have a BAD oven thermometer.)
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RE: Fryd: (I don't even have a BAD oven thermometer.)

Get one! You'll be amazed how far off your oven might be. Check at different settings too. My oven's thermostat is accurate up to about 375, but if I want 450 I have to set it at about 412!

SB (might as well get a GOOD one too)
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Okay, will you help me with this, please? I'm looking online and seeing probe thermomters, but I know the temperature inside a roast is NOT the temperature of the oven. So what kind of thermometer do I get and where? Please?
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RE: Fryd: "I'm looking online and seeing probe thermomters"

This is all you really need:

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/shop/details.asp?SKU=2040

Your local hardware store will have them. Since your oven thermostat is probably not accurate in relation to your contols the numbers are just relative.

SB (save your money for something to cook in the oven)
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Your local hardware store will have them. Since your oven thermostat is probably not accurate in relation to your contols the numbers are just relative.

SB (save your money for something to cook in the oven)


You're too cool. Thanks!
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I don't anything about altitude, but you can check the temperature by buying a thermometer. I mentioned on this board a couple of months ago http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=20272825 that when I bought a thermometer I discovered that my oven was about 100° hotter than the setting. Once I have accounted for this I no longer burn things like I used too.
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I mentioned on this board a couple of months ago

That must have been before I got here. Phooey - another wasted month.
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2) I'm almost 3000 ft above sea level. I know that for boiling water that makes a difference. May I assume that for ovens that will also make a difference?

I'm going to talk a little about the reasons cooking is different at a higher altitude.

The primary reason is that atmospheric pressure. There's a greater weight of air on me down here at sea level than there is on you up there. Weight of air is called air pressure. So the higher the altitude, the lower the air pressure.

The water boils when the energy from the hot water is greater than the pressure on the water to stay a liquid. What causes that pressure? You got it, air pressure! So at lower air pressure water boils at a lower temperature. That means that to give the same amount of heat to the food in the boiling water you have to cook it for longer.

What other things in cooking are based on air pressure? Leavening. You know, that thing that makes pancakes different from crepes. Baking soda, baking powder, and eggs are used (in different ways, but I'm not going to get into the chemistry right now) to provide pockets of air in the food while it cooks so it will be fluffy when it's cooked. (I don't know which ways one needs to change recipes to adjust for this, though.)

What shouldn't make a difference in the oven? Anything else. So broiling, roasting meats should all be as written.

I hope some of this helps you understand why recipes say to change things.

Good luck!

- Megan
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I'm going to talk a little about the reasons cooking is different at a higher altitude.


Thanks, Megan. This also explains why my breads aren't working as well as I'd like.
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I'm almost 3000 ft above sea level.

Here's an excellent resource from the University of Wyoming:
http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/cesnutrition/publications/altadjust.htm

I'm at around 3500', and have never adjusted any recipes for altitude. But then, I rarely cook the foods that seem to be most affected.

Cody
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I live at 5000ft and I have to add more fluid to my baking items. I also have to add cooking time to things like chicken. Down in Long Beach at sea level I could bake 2 chicken brests in 40 to 45 minutes...takes over an hour up here on the mountain.

Kathy
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FWIW, most thermometers are not accurate across their entire measurement range. Even the better ones that were used to measure temperature for weather reporting included calibration charts to give accurate measurements. In the lab, we calibrated thermometers by determining their reading compared to the boiling points (or freezing points) of known pure compounds like benzene, water, etc. Instead of using an “oven thermometer”, I use a dial thermometer that I can check by immersing its probe in a pot of boiling water. It may be off by 10 or 8 degrees at 400 degrees F, but I know that it is close at 212 degrees F (or not). ;-)

C.J.V. - who has 6 or 5 dial thermometers along with 8 or 7 mercury thermometers
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FWIW, most thermometers are not accurate across their entire measurement range.

AAARRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you guys do this just to torture me?

Frydaze1
Off to stick her head in the oven - maybe the temperature will be far enough off not to kill me... Oh, wait, you aren't supposed to light them, are you? Anyone want to tell me where to get an accurate gas identifier?
;-)
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CJV say, "I use a dial thermometer that I can check by immersing its probe in a pot of boiling water. It may be off by 10 or 8 degrees at 400 degrees F, but I know that it is close at 212 degrees F (or not). ;-)

C.J.V. - who has 6 or 5 dial thermometers along with 8 or 7 mercury thermometers"

Nex' tam yuh drap by de Lil Ole Log Cabin on De Bayou, Ah git out mah ole "boiler t'ermometer". Ah tink dat it gits from 'bout 400F to 1100F. Dat for grillin' at HIGH tempercheer!!. (Also very good for checking furnace 'n stack temps.).

See ya, Ah gots de Coomoonity Cawfee on.

DeColonelCAF

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RE: CJV: "most thermometers are not accurate across their entire measurement range"

For purposes of measuring oven temperatures this doesn't matter much. The reason we need an oven temp gauge at all is because the dial settings aren't accurate. It's all relative.

Like you say, most thermometers aren't accurate accross their entire range, so knowing that an oven thermometer is accurate at 212 is pretty much irrelevant since we rarely use our ovens at such a low setting anyway.

To a scientist im the lab the accuracy of the measurements is critical. To a cook, they're just relative. The idea is for the food to get properly cooked, the method of measuring notwithstanding.

SB (has a cheap 12 year old GE oven and a $10 thermometer and no problems)

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