Review: Anova Precision Cooker Nano sous vide machine


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Erin Lawrence

anova sous vide

There are two types of people who enjoy sous vide cooking . One is a the foodie type, for obvious reasons. The other is the folks out there who can’t cook. That may seem weird, but hear me out. Sous vide machines have the ability to control the final temperature of your food to within half a degree, so you really can’t overcook anything. And if you knew it was possible to turn out perfectly perfect food every time with almost no work on your part, wouldn’t you suddenly have an interest in cooking more? The new Anova Precision Cooker Nano is a compact sous vide cooking device that I recently had the chance to test and review, along with the Anova Container. I’ll tell you all about how it works and what kind of food you can make with it, and a bit about what sous vide cooking is and why people like it.

Watch for the video review soon, or subscribe to my YouTube channel here to get notified when it’s posted!

What is Anova Precision Cooker Nano?

The Anova Precision Cooker Nano is a compact, app-connected sous vide machine. You plug it in and place it in water and using the onboard controls or a smartphone app, you can adjust your cooking temperature to within 0.1 degrees. The Nano version is a smaller and more compact version of the previous generation Anova.

There’s a small digital readout on top of the unit so you can see temperature and time at a glance. Or you can use the app to program and manage your cooking.

You can use the Anova Precision Cooker Nano in a pot filled with water, a bucket, or with the custom made Anova Container, which lets you stack food and hold it under water, while creating an area for the machine to sit unobstructed. It all gets covered with a lid to keep the heat just right.

anova sous vide, nano, cooker, machine, review

What is sous vide cooking?

Sous Vide cooking is a technique that uses a hot water bath to cook food to a precise temperature. More accurate than steaming and not as bland or imprecise as boiling, sous vide is a whole different method of cooking food.

Cooking sous vide involves sealing food inside a watertight bag, and immersing it in that precisely controlled hot water for an extended period of time—often an hour or a couple of hours, depending what you’re making.

After, you may want to give the food a quick sear coming out of the sous vide bath, since while the food is perfectly cooked, it can be a little pasty looking. Searing it gives colour and makes it more appealing on the plate.

Why cook sous vide?

Sous vide cooking has numerous advantages:

You can cook proteins, and other food to within 0.1 degree; because you pre-set the temperature, and the sous vide cooker holds it exactly there, there’s no danger of overcooking.

By the way, did you know the temperature difference between rare and medium rare in a steak is exactly three degrees? That;’s pretty close. No wonder so many of us over or undercook meat. The Anova gets it to witin 0.1 degrees of that perfect temperature and holds is precisely there.

anova sous vide, nano, cooker, machine, review

You can leave food unattended, without worrying about overcooking it. Some sous vide machines like the Anova Nano here have connected apps that allow you to monitor time and temperature from a distance.

Another plus of sous vide cooking? Temperature and doneness is uniform all the way through the meat. If you’ve ever tried to cook a perfect medium steak, you know you can get it medium in the centre, but the outsides are cooked more thoroughly. Because your target temperature is precise, you can make an entire steak that is the perfect medium temperature all the way through, not just in the centre.

Sous vide cooking allows you to hold food at temperature; in some cases for hours. If guests are late, or you’ve mis-timed the cooking time on your other dishes, you don’t have to worry. You can hold food in the sous vide bath. The app will let you know for exactly how long.

 How do I set up Anova sous vide?

anova sous vide, nano, cooker, machine, review

You’ve got a few things to do before you’re ready to sous vide. First off, download the Anova app from the App Store or Google Play. Next you’ll want to encapsulate your food in something that seals well for the cooking. Typically this is a ziplock bag or vacuum packed package. You want something that doesn’t leak, or melt.

To zip lock or to vac pack?

Many sous vide enthusiasts will vacuum pack heir foods for the sous vide process, and that’s because this removes all the air from the bag and seals it tightly, preventing leaking food or juices that can damage the sous vide machine, while also preventing the bag from floating in the water.
There are a couple of ways to hack this if you don’t have a vacuum sealer. You can put food in a ziplock or other durable, self-sealing bag and try to push all the air out of it as best you can (try sucking it out with a strew) , or you can cook in a Mason jar.

Are Ziploc bags safe for sous vide?

Ziploc backs are perfectly safe for sous viding. They’re food safe and tend to be durable enough to hold up to the heat involved, so consider them an inexpensive and easy option. You’ll want to push all the air out of the bag as best you can to keep the bag from just floating to the top of the water bath. You can even suck out the air with a straw.

What can I cook in a sous vide?

The short answer is almost anything! Vegetables, meats, fish and seafood, eggs, desserts; you can even infuse vodka with natural essences!

Preparing the Anova Precision Cooker Nano

anova sous vide, nano, cooker, machine, review

Place the machine in water and secure it to the side of your container using the attached clip and thumb screw. I will say I hate this clip. It’s locked in one place and it doesn’t fit most of my medium pots. The previous generation anova had a removable ring that you could adjust the position of for almost any pot or container.

A heads up you’ll need a LOT of water with this device; it has a fairly high water level threshold and you’ll get an error message if your water level is too low and your cook won’t start. If you use the Container, it obviously takes even more, so if you’re doing small batches, a smaller pot is probably preferable.

Cooking with Anova sous vide

Cooking with the Anova is pretty straight forward, even for novices. Choose a recipe from the Anova app, or look up instructions for how to cook any type of food or protein. The app does it all for you but you can dial in any temperature you like.

Package up your food; and add any oils, herbs or flavours to the bag to really infuse it. Then start your water, either manually on the machine or get the app to do it for you. The water will heat up. I’m happy to say the water heats up pretty quickly (mine took less than 10 minutes when I used a big pot) and a small, single beep on the machine will alert you it’s ready.

anova sous vide, nano, cooker, machine, review

I didn’t care much for this; I got no push notification to my phone when it was ready and when I walked over to the pot following the beep, the timer had already started counting down. I was left with the feeling the machine doesn’t wait for you. If you miss your alert, you’d have to adjust your cook time, and I couldn’t see how to do that. More investigation is needed…

When the bath is ready, you’ll get a message that it’s time to add your food. Place it in its wrapping into the water bath and tell the app your cook has begun, or mark the time if you’re going manual.

Now, shake a martini and relax—your cook will likely take an hour or two.

I’ve cooked numerous things sous vide:

  • Eggs: soft boiled, hard boiled
  • Sous vide egg bites
  • Chicken
  • Fish: (salmon, trout)
  • Steak:
  • Vegetables: carrots

When it came to the eggs I tried cooking hard boiled and they came out what I’d call medium poached. It’s also important to note there’s two sets of instructions in the app; the Anova guide version, which I used, and a bunch of crowd sourced recipes. You’ll want to look carefully at the ratings on those before you try them.

My “hard boiled” egg.

Features of Anova Sous Vide

There are a couple of features that set this machine apart. The big one is the digital display—something not found on a competitor’s model. The Nano is also slightly smaller than previous versions, though not quite as compact as said competitor. The Anova also comes with a built in clip for attaching your sous vide machine to a pot to keep it upright, and this clip is a bit more versatile than what you’d find on that other model.

Using the Anova app

The Anova app is a wealth of information. It’s got recipes, cooking guides and inspiration for your meals. It will tell you at a glance what temperature to cook foods at, or you can tap to load a recipe and the app will connect directly to the Nano and handle management of the cook for you. There are a few bugs with the app in my opinion. I never seemed to get a push notification or alert that the water was ready. Sometimes I’d walk over to check on it and find the time had just started counting down with no alert to me to put the food in now that the water was heated.

Other times, I’d walk over to find the water was at temperature, but I got no beep and no notification from the machine. When I went into the app to start the cook, there was no way to do that; no “Start cook/start timer” option.

Overall review: Anova Precision Nano Sous Vide machine

Overall I’ve been pretty happy with the Anova Precision Nano Sous Vide machine. It’s easy to use and the app takes a lot of the guesswork out of the precision needed to cook sous vide because it recommends temperatures and sets them for you.

If there are any downside to this device, I’d say its the terrible design of the clip which doesn’t let you adjust it; I much preferred the previous version which had a moveable collar. The device has a rounded bottom that won’t sit flat on its own in your pot and it has no magnet to stabilize that anyway. I also think the cord is also very short. I also had a lot of trouble with the app.

Even so, the Anova Precision Nano Sous Vide does exactly what you need, and it’s a lot of cooking power in a smaller package. The app is helpful and like that it’s easy to operate on-device without needing your smartphone too.

I can recommend the Anova Precision Nano Sous Vide. It sells for about $119CAD.

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