Sous Vide (“under vacuum”) cooking has been gathering momentum in the consumer cooking market. By sealing the ingredients in an airtight bag, the process creates foods that are said to be tender, moist, and full of flavor. While the technique has been around for a while in the restaurant trade, Sous Vide tools for the rest of us are both expensive and scarce. Anova has changed all of that with the introduction of the Anova Precision Cooker (APC), and home cooks are “talking.”
The components of a Sous Vide cooker are pretty straight forward: there’s a water heater, a temperature probe, and a controller. The basic idea behind Sous Vide cooking is: the water heater heats the water, the temperature probe reports the temperature of the water, and the the controller turns the water heater on/off to maintain the desired temperature. Some designs have the heater integrated into a container, others are separate devices that clamp onto the side of a pot. There are functional advantages/drawbacks to both, but that’s pretty much it.
The hard part is, of course, to be able to heat precisely and maintain that temperature over time. The even harder part is to make it affordable. Anova has managed to accomplish both. The Anova Precision Cooker / Sous Vide Circulator (APC) was designed to let a cook control the temperature to within +/- 0.1º over hours. Anova Industries Inc. manufactures a wide range of temperature control products for the scientific market, so we are not surprised that the APC is highly accurate. We are not sure how Anova has managed to bring the price down to the point where it is affordable for home chefs, but it is clear that they did not cut any corners on design or build quality. Nicely done!
We really like the wand-like design of the APC. The digital readout and controls are at the top. The buttons are membrane switches which may be easily wiped clean. The heating coil, temperature probes, and impeller at the bottom and are shielded by a removable stainless steel sleeve. The APC may be adjusted for use with different size pots and quantities of water. The stem of the APC is secured by a ring around the sleeve and the entire unit is held in place C-clamp style to the side of a pot. It is a very practical approach providing maximum flexibility as well as allowing for easy storage and portability.
Here are the specs on the Anova Precision Cooker:
- Thermostatic sous vide circulator cooker system – stainless steel and polycarbonate
- Temperature programmable directly or via Bluetooth – Displays in both °C and °F
- Directional vectoring pump – 12 L/min internal circulation pump
- Clips to a variety of tanks/pots – 6L to 20L water bath tank capacity
- Over-temp safety switch
We found the unit very easy to set up and operate. There is no on/off switch. The display and thumb wheel light up as soon as the unit is plugged in, but the heater and circulator does not power up until the red button on the control panel is pressed. That is all there is to it. The target temperature may be set/changed at any time by rotating the thumb wheel up or down. There are settings for the timer and other details, but we’ll leave those for the FirstUse article.
For Sous Vide cooking, the ability to accurately control the water temperature is important, which was why we were eager to confirm the accuracy of the APC readout with our Thermapen. Our Thermapen is rated to be accurate to within +/- 0.7ºF and the APC is stated to be accurate to within 0.01ºF. So as long as the readings are within 1º, we are going to say they “agree.” What we found was that there was only a difference of 0.3ºF! Fantastic 🙂
It took less than ten minutes for the APC to bring the pot of water to 135ºF. Once it reached the set temperature, it had no problem maintaining it to within +/- 0.2ºF. This is quite impressive as we didn’t even have a cover on the pot. In actual use, we will, of course, be covering the pot with aluminum foil to maximize heat retention and minimize evaporation. In fact, what we really should look for is double-walled insulated pot to use with the APC. Any suggestions?
In the FirstUse article, we’ll take a look at the Anova app, some of the things we have cooked, and give you our thoughts on using the Anova Precision Cooker. Look for it at the end of May. BTW, we’ll also be using the APC to cook some of the meats we’ll be serving at FirstGrill this year. It will give our guests a chance to make some direct comparisons with those done the traditional way. THAT should be interesting!!!
Amazon links to items mentioned: