Getting Started – New User Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Between the holidays and the new year, we have a lot of new users to welcome to the #anovafoodnerd family! We are as excited as you are to get you cooking like a pro, but we recognize that you may have questions before you even attempt your first cook. And we are happy to help with that, for both the new user and existing #anovafoodnerd.
Photo credit #anovafoodnerd @joelcym via Instagram
Our amazing Community Manager, Hunter, has already created a First Cook Essentials guide that includes many of the links that I am about to share. She even made helpful short videos to go with quite a few of the topics! I hope that you take the opportunity to go through these posts and explore Community in general – oftentimes this is a best first stop for any questions you may have.
What equipment do I need?
- Your Anova & nearby electrical outlet
- A cooking vessel and something to put it on to protect your counter – more about vessels and containers here.
- Zip-locking or vacuum seal bags
- Binder/bulldog clips
Here’s the amazing community link all about the basic equipment!
How do I set it up?
What can I cook with my Anova?
- The possibilities are endless, and we have an amazing Recipes section both online and on our app to help you with ideas.
- We also have an amazing relationship with The Food Lab at Serious Eats who consistently are coming out with new time and temperature guides for individual proteins as well as in-depth posts regarding common ingredients, from meats to seafood to vegetables
- This blog post talks more about cooking in jars, which covers the topics of sous vide desserts and grains
- Once you get into the swing of things, you will start to feel comfortable modifying your own recipes!
- For inspiration, I like to send new and existing users to our Instagram account, @anovaculinary, where we post a gorgeous and accessible new customer-provided photo with time and temp EVERY DAY
How do I prepare my food for cooking?
Photo credit to #anovafoodnerd @cbdcuisine via Instagram
- Season with salt, pepper, spices or marinade of choice
- Use the Immersion method to remove air from zip-locking bags or vacuum seal in food bags if you have this option available. Both work equally well.
What are some easy recipes to start with?
How do I know what temperature to use?
- As we are developing Anova’s ultimate time and temperature guide, we are currently referring our customers to this one at SousVide Supreme.
Can I cook more than one piece of meat/fish at a time?
- Absolutely – check out this post on batch cooking to look at how you can most effectively cook multiple pieces simultaneously.
I like my meat medium rare, but my family prefers it medium/medium-well/well-done. How do I handle this?
- Start by cooking the piece or pieces with a greater degree of doneness. Once they are finished, drop the temperature to the next highest level and cook the next batch while leaving the originals in the bath. They are not going to overcook because they have already been cooked to a higher degree of temperature. Repeat until your rarest pieces have been finished, and then remove and sear them all to serve at the same time. Pro-tip: LABEL THE DIFFERENT BAGS! Sous vide steaks look very similar from the outside.
- For more information, we have multiple threads about this in Community, like this one.
I live at high altitude. Does this change the way I should use my Anova?
- No. The food should cook at the temperature you set the water bath at regardless of altitude, though you may experience greater evaporation and need to monitor water levels more consistently. 130ºF water is the same temperature regardless of how many atmospheres of pressure you are at. If you were cooking it above the boiling point then it would make a difference, but below boiling it should not have a significant effect.
Can I/how do I reheat my food after it has been chilled?
- You can bring it back up to warm by putting it back into a bath the same temperature you cooked at. I recommend 30-45 minutes per inch of thickness for a complete warm-through, 15 minutes and a sear for more basic superficial warming. For vegetables, you can just bring up to 140ºF/60ºC.
How do I finish my meal preparation?
- Whatever method you choose, pat your protein dry first with paper towels to prevent spatter as much as you can.
- The most common method is pan-searing, about which you can find a great how-to video here.
- Broiling in the oven is also effective, and I recommend a high broil 4 – 8 inches/10 – 20cm from the heat source.
- Beyond this, we have plenty of users who finish on hot grills or with a searing torch, like a Searzall.
Is it safe to cook in plastic?
- Yes, provided that you are using the right kinds of bags. Today’s food safe plastic bags have been greatly improved over the last few years and are designed to not release harmful chemicals into your food. Most do not include the plasticizers phthalates or BPA at all! We do recommend using reputable brands and sturdier models, such as quart or gallon-size freezer bags from Ziploc. Stay away from bags made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride).
- Foodsaver vacuum seal bags as well as even stronger sous vide specialty vacuum bags are made from polyethylene and nylon, which are chemically inert and nontoxic and only just start to soften at 195ºF/90.5ºC.
- If you are still concerned about plasticizers or any other chemicals that can cause estrogenic activity, and/or you have eliminated all plastic use from the rest of your life for environmental reasons, we recommend food grade silicon bags like these.
These are some of the most common questions that I have seen from new users, but I am sure that some among you have more. Please write them in the comments and we will use them to build another helpful FAQ post, if not entire page on our website – your feedback is the BEST tool to making what we offer most useful to you, #anovafoodnerd family! Feel free to share and ask any questions you might have.