Anova makes smart sous vide cooking affordable

/ Updated: May 8, 2014 2:07 PM PDT

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Anova Culinary

You don't need to be a foodie to appreciate perfectly cooked meals, and with a sous vide cooker like last year's Anova Immersion Circulator, you don't need to be one to cook those kinds of meals, either. Now, with the new Bluetooth-enabled Anova Precision Cooker, you'll even be able to do so right from your smart phone.

If that doesn't get you excited, perhaps this will: the Anova Precision Cooker costs just $169 (or less if you manage to catch the early-bird discounts offered by the machine's hugely successful Kickstarter campaign). That retail price is $30 less than last year's non-connected debut model, and significantly less than other smart sous vide cookers, like FNV Labs' Mellow, which is planning to retail for $500 (though to be fair, the Mellow is an all-in-one unit that will keep ingredients cool as well as heat them -- a pretty killer feature, in our opinion).

If you aren't familiar with the technique, sous vide cooking is a method long-used by world-class restaurants and recently popularized by the last decade or so's boom of cooking shows. To cook food sous-vide-style, you'll seal it within a bag, then toss it in water that's heated to a very precise temperature. The sealed bag locks in the flavor -- but it's that temp-controlled water that's truly key for perfect, evenly cooked food.

That's where Anova comes in. Their Precision Cooker clamps onto the side of your pot, with 800-watt heated coils that warm the water, a propeller unit that circulates the water around your food, and a laboratory-grade thermometer that keeps track of the temperature.

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Anova Culinary

Of course, what sets Anova's new cooker apart is the fact that it syncs up with your phone over Bluetooth. All you'll need to do is select the type of food you're cooking, then press start. That's it. The app stores time and temperature settings for each dish, and relays that info right to the cooker. You can tweak settings as needed, but otherwise, you're looking at master-chef-level precision at the touch of a button.

Tech-minded culinarians might also appreciate that Anova plans to release a software development kit (SDK) for the device, so there's the potential for a multitude of third-party apps and applications for this cooker, as well.

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Anova Culinary

Anova claims that you can cook just about anything using its cooker, from meats and poultry to eggs and vegetables. It also says that unlike last year's model, which only works with tall pots, the new cooker will work with almost any pot in your kitchen. If you don't want to use your phone to control the cooker, there's a physical wheel on the device that'll let you select specific time and temperature settings.

Additionally, despite the fact that most professionals will vacuum-seal their ingredients prior to sous vide cooking ("sous vide" is French for "under vacuum"), Anova says that you can use standard ziplock bags and still achieve mouth-watering results.

The Anova Precision Cooker is made from polycarbonate and stainless steel to prevent rust and corrosion. On top of that, the bottom casing of the unit can be removed and tossed into the dishwasher for easy cleanup. There's no word on a warranty, although Anova claims that the cooker is built to last for years. The original Anova cooker comes with a one-year limited warranty on parts and labor.

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Anova Culinary

Home cooks looking to test out the sous vide waters have until June 17 to back Anova's Kickstarter campaign, with cookers expected to ship out to Kickstarter backers in October of this year. That puts Anova well ahead of the FNV Labs' Mellow, which isn't expected to ship out until 2015.

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Where to Buy

Anova Precision Cooker

Part Number: CNETAnova Precision Cooker

MSRP: $169.00

See manufacturer website for availability.