For now this entry is more like a Warning than a Tip. There is a tip involved here, but I am not yet sure the extent it will help with problem. But if you own a new Maverick remote read thermometer with the newer higher temperature probes, at least take heed of the Warning. There is no harm in trying the Tip, I just don't know yet how well it works. The Maverick ET-732 and ET-733 are shipping with temperature probes that are said to be rated to 716 degrees (380 C) in the advertising materials for the unit. The instructions included with the thermometer say not to exceed 572 degrees (300 C) and I would be inclined not to exceed this lower figure. Either figure is higher than the older probes and you might think you can safely use them for direct grilling on a gas or charcoal grill without too much trouble. Let me just say as a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks, you would be wrong.
THE ISSUES: Direct Grilling: While these new ratings are much higher temperatures than they used to be, there are still conditions that can cause problems. On any grill you could have fat dripping from your food that can cause small or large flareups. All it takes is for a direct flame to hit the probe or the probe wire for a.very short period of time and you have a burned-out probe. On the Big Green Egg, and I am guessing other kamado grills, you can have a problem due to the tight seal and small amount of combustion air needed to keep these grills going. You could be direct grilling a somewhat fatty piece of meat and you are NOT getting flareups while the lid is closed. The situation changes as soon as you open the lid to turn the food or season it. With the lid closed, the fire has enough oxygen to maintain temperature. Open the lid and you've suddenly let in a bunch of additional combustion air. You may find you suddenly have a bunch of flareups and of course they always seem to be focused on the area where you ran your probe wire. This is a given. As soon as you close the lid the flares subside. But it doesn't take very much exposure to high temperatures, like you get from a flareup, to burn out a probe. Indirect Grilling:You can also run into different issues cooking indirectly. Flareups are no longer the problem. If the grill temperature runs too high, you can burn out a probe that way. Some of the items I bake, are baked at a temperature of 475 to 500 degrees (250 - 260 C). If you aren't paying close attention to your temperatures as you are warming up your Egg, you could easily hit that 572 degrees (300 C) or beyond. You're probably thinking: How can you run over if you're monitoring the temperatures with the remote read thermometer? Speaking from personal experience it can be easy. Depending upon how you lit the fire, you may end up with the fire deep in the bed of coals. These fires react very slowly, and all of a sudden they get up a head of steam and can shoot up hundreds of degrees in a minute or two. Get distracted and you've overshot your mark.
One More Thing: While these next items are not related to temperature, era guaranteed way to “burn out” a probe. So I will mention them here as a public service announcement. The instructions are very clear when it comes to the probes and water. Do NOT submerge the probes in water. Do NOT get the braided probe wire wet. Do NOT let water get into the joint where the braided probe wire enters the base of the stainless steel probe. Do any of these items and you have probably killed your probe for good.
POTENTIAL SOLUTION: Maverick Industries mentioned you can wrap the probe wire in foil to help protect them from high heat. This seems to makes some sense, but this is a short-term solution that will simply postpone the inevitable. Anecdotally I have some friends who do this and they feel very strongly that it has helped protect their probes and prolong the life of the probes. I am guessing that the foil would help to avert the blast from a flareup and spread the heat across a larger area of the foil, so the heat making its way through the foil is somewhat reduced. I am not so sure how much help it would be if you let your grill temperature run high. In a way it might be worse because the high temperatures may be intensified and prolonged inside the foil wrap. I plan to try wrapping my new probes going forward. I do think this will help protect them short term from quick flareups. I don't think it will help at all if the grill temperature runs too high, but that is something I can deal with by using good practices. Flareups just happened and there's not a whole lot you can do about it to start. I am hoping the foil wrap on the probe wires will help buy me a little time so I can move the food or kill the flareups. I will either add to this entry or write a separate entry, describing what I have learned going forward. But meanwhile take heed of what I've written about three ways to burn out probe wires. Sadly I know of what I speak.