Smart technology is making its way into the kitchen in ways big and small.
Experts say three smart gadgets are worth a home chef’s dollars.
Sous vide machine: A longtime favorite of chefs, sous vide machines are coming down in price and making their way into home kitchens. Sous vide machines allow food to retain more flavor by cooking slowly in an airtight bag under circulating water at low temperatures.
Both Chef Brian Schreiber, educational representative at Kendall College, and Lance Nitahara, lecturing instructor at Culinary Institute of America, raved about them.
“It’s a really great way to cook to maximize your flavor. I think in the next year or two, sous vide is going to pop up more and more, especially as people get more educated,” Schreiber said. “It creates a controlled environment that you don’t get with traditional cooking.”
The low and slow cooking times make monitoring sous vide cooking from an app easy. There are two top smart sous vide machines, the Anova Precision Cooker ($149) and the ChefSteps Joule ($199).
Smart thermometer: Lisa McManus, executive tasting and testing editor at America’s Test Kitchen, said though some smart kitchen devices feel like either the technology or the device’s function is an afterthought, that’s not the case with a smart thermometer.
In America’s Test Kitchen tests, the top choice was the iDevices Kitchen Thermometer ($39.99), a Bluetooth-enabled smart thermometer. When home chefs need to step away while cooking, being able to use an app to check on the food’s temperature is a handy way to avoid overcooking the meal.
“It gave us accurate, clear temperature readouts, which is basically what you want in a good thermometer. The ‘smart’ side of this product — where it uses Bluetooth to send information to your phone — works as well as the thermometer itself. What’s more, applying smart technology here isn’t just an extra; it solves a real problem,” McManus said.
Induction burner: Nitahara said the induction burner is one of his favorite cooking devices. These burners are more efficient than gas burners; they heat up fast and cool off quickly, plus they let chefs digitally control the exact temperature.
“If you have recipes you did once and it turned out great, you can notate what number you set it to and get that number every single time. I use my pressure cooker and can adjust to the number I want it to be for maximum pressure,” he said.
While most induction burners are part of complete ranges, some single induction burner plates are coming out that are Wi-Fi-enabled.
Nitahara said to work on an induction burner, a pan must be made of a magnetic material, meaning aluminum pans won’t work.
Hestan Cue’s single induction burner ($549) comes with a smart pan that works with the induction burner and includes a recipe app via Bluetooth technology that guides users through cooking and automatically adjusts the temperature for each step.
Nitahara said he expects induction burners will become more popular.
“It’s the future of cooking today.”