If you’re a food scientist, it almost seems unavoidable to dive into the world of sous vide cooking. Sous vide cooking has been quite the rage for a while for chefs and food enthusiasts. Apparently, it’s the perfect way to cook a steak, or boil your egg. I, however, didn’t really see the point of it for the home kitchen, but, in the end, I gave in. We now own an Anova Nano (affiliate link).
It’s fun, that’s for sure, it’s especially fun if you’re into science and if you’re not a vegetarian. Is it for everyone? Probably not and we’ll tell you all about our experiences, but not until we’ve explained what sous vide cooking is.
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What again is sous vide cooking?
We have a separate article explaining all the ins and outs of sous vide cooking. In short, with sous vide cooking you cook your food in a water bath that is put at a very specific precise temperature. You choose the temperature in such a way that your food is cooked perfectly. That is, that it isn’t overcooked, nor undercooked.
What do you need for sous vide cooking?
In order to cook food sous vide you really need only one special kitchen tool: a sous vide heater. This is a heater that can keep water at a well controlled temperature. It is an advanced thermostat for a water bath.
Apart from that, you only need regular kitchen appliances. A pot or heat-proof plastic tub to fill with water, some heat proof bags to store your food in (even glass jars will work) and you can get started. For the rest of this article we’ll focus on the heater though.
Choosing a sous vide cooker
We decided we wanted to give sous vide cooking a try, but wanted a simple, preferably small tool. We weren’t planning on cooking for the masses so wouldn’t need anything particularly high duty.
We chose the Anova Nano
We had four choices in our opinion: the Anova precision cooker, the Anova Nano, the Instantpot sous vide cooker or the Joule by Chefsteps. We chose for the Anova Nano (affiliate link) (in December-2018) for a few reasons:
- We did not want to be bound to our phones for using the tool. We want to just plug it in and have it work without any other device (the Joule only works with your phone and app).
- We did not need Wifi on our cooker.
- We were not planning to heat up huge quantities of water.
- We did not want to spend a lot of money (the Nano only cost us $64,-).
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Reviewing the Anova Nano
So how does the Anova Nano work? It truly is super simple to get it started. In your box you have just one thing (apart from the instruction manual which you don’t really need, it’s very intuitive): the Anova Nano. It is a black tube, about 32 cm tall with a screen on top (that shows black when it’s not plugged in), a plug and a clip attached to it.
Using the Anova Nano
All you have to do is attached the Nano to a bowl or pan of the correct height and tighten it with the clamp. You then fill it with enough water to reach just above the minimum water mark. Add the product you want to be cooking and you’re ready to go.
On the Nano you will see two marked lines indicating the minimum (min) and maximum (max) water level for the apparatus to work. If the water level doesn’t come high enough the Nano will indicate so with a ‘Lo’ warning. By adding in some more water that message will disappear automatically.
The menu on top of the Nano is very intuitive. There are three options: the actual temperature of the water, the set point temperature and the duration. Once you’ve set your temperature and time you press start and the Nano will start pumping water around and heating it up. That’s all.
If you’ve never used sous vide cooking before it might be hard to know where to get started. Luckily, Anova is well prepared for that. When you download their app to your phone, it won’t just allow you to connect to your Anova via Bluetooth to follow the cooking process. You can also use it to look up how to prepare food or to find inspiration for recipes. The recipe guide is made by Kenji Lopez-Alt who knows his food science.
The one big disadvantage
Really, the only big disadvantage we found so far is that the clip to attach the Nano onto a pan does not move. It is fixed in place. It does limit you in what type of containers you can actually use for cooking since they need to be high enough for the clip to work. (As you can see on the photo below though we’ve found a workaround by clamping a higher support against the pan, works fine as long as you don’t bump into it.)
To buy or not to buy?
If you want to get into sous vide cooking at home, definitely consider the Anova Nano, especially if you have that same list of requirement that we had.
That said, the Anova Nano really is only going to be for you if you want to get into sous vide cooking and I expect that’s not everyone (read our advice on that here).
Looking forward to boiling some perfectly boiled eggs? That perfect steak? Don’t need to cook for a large crowd? Don’t want to spend too much money and some a simple sturdy sous vide cooker? Then we would recommend Anova Nano! Look at the price and other specs here (affiliate link).
Anova precision cooker, link
Anova precision cooker Nano, link
Serious Eats, Sous vide 101, link
ChefSteps, Joule, link