Just before Christmas I treated myself to a new Meater+ Meat Thermometer. I’ve always been a keen cook, and I particularly enjoy meat cookery, whether it’s slow-cooked pulled pork on my ceramic barbecue or a succulent ribeye steak done in a pan on the stove. I also realise that successful meat cookery is so often about cooking to just the right temperature for the cut in question so I was intrigued to see how the Meater+ performed.
Unboxing the Meater+
It’s silly, I know, but I still get a little shiver of pleasure when every few years I unpack a new iPhone. Apple have long understood the importance of sheer desirability, and this philosophy pervades every aspect of the product, including the packaging. Well, turns out that the guys at Apption labs (who invented the Meater) are bang on message. They may have eschewed shiny white board for an altogether more sustainable natural brown cardboard, but every aspect of the packaging has been thoroughly thought through. Nestled within the outer packaging lies the beating heart of the Meater itself; a bamboo case which not only stores the probe but acts as charging unit, and (in the case of the Meater+) a Bluetooth repeater.
The word that sprang to mind for this stylish combination of smart bamboo, purposeful and sleek stainless steel and black ceramic was ‘Zen’. It is stylish, but effortlessly so.
The probe itself, a minimalist beauty, will start charging as soon as the protective tab is removed from the single AAA battery in the base of the case. The battery should be able to charge the probe around 100 times before it needs to be replaced, and a subtle LED is always there to let you know the status of the probe and base. I should mention here that it’s important not to wait until your guests are sitting down waiting for a perfect steak before charging it; the Meater can take a couple of hours for its first charge and you’ll want to download the App and get things setup before cooking commences.
Mention of the App brings me to Meater’s party piece. Without it this would just be a dumb, chunky skewer. Download the Meater App however (IPhone or Android) and the magic can happen. As soon as you take the Meater probe out of its case it will link to your phone, and you’re good to go.
Cooking with Meater and Meater+
When it comes to cooking, things really couldn’t be much easier. You are led through a handful of questions: What type of meat are you cooking? (Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry…even Fish), Joint, Steaks or Chops etc? How would you like it cooked? This is done in a simple and intuitive way and the device seems to have most culinary bases covered.
The probe contains two temperature sensors, one in the “pointy end” to measure the temperature of your meat, one in the black ceramic part to measure the temperature of your oven or barbecue. Remember, the probe also contains a Bluetooth transmitter which is a sensitive bit of kit; to ensure this is well protected it is important to insert the probe right up to the line machined into the side of the probe so the electronics are protected from the direct heat from the cooker. The device can withstand an ambient temperature of 275°c, which should be more than enough for most scenarios. Remember, when cooking in a pan for instance, the surface may be smoking hot but the air just a centimetre or two higher will be much cooler.
The clever bods at Apption labs know a thing or two about meat as well as technology. They know for instance that meat needs to rest after cooking; they also know that the temperature of the centre of a piece of meat can continue to rise after you take the meat off the heat, and Meater takes all this into account. Your phone will display the target temperature for your desired degree of ‘doneness’, the current meat temperature and the ambient temperature. It tracks this constantly and displays the estimated cooking time. When the moment comes, an alarm tells you it’s time to take the meat off the heat (taking into account how the temperature will continue to rise), and allow it to rest.
The saying goes that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I can say without hesitation that the eating since getting my Meater+ has been fantastic. Yes, it may seem a lot to pay for a thermometer, but I would counter that by asking how much you spend on meat? The potential disappointment of a tough, overdone steak, an unappetisingly underdone turkey at Christmas or pulled pork that won’t pull makes this an investment well worth shelling out for.
Suffice to say, that since my first tentative foray into cooking with Meater a few weeks ago, I would no longer consider cooking without it. I have used it for pan-fried steaks and chops, roast chicken, slow-cooked barbecue meats and of course my Christmas Turkey.
Everyone who has seen my Meater+ in use wants one, which I think speaks for itself. If I had to identify a shortcoming, it’s in the limitations of Bluetooth technology. A cooker may not exactly be a perfect Faraday Cage, but it does a pretty good job of reducing the range of a small Bluetooth transmitter. Meater+ improves considerably on the range of the basic Meater, but I would say that in the case of Meater your phone wants to be within 10ft or so of the cooker to maintain a reliable signal. Wander off and you may lose your connection, but it will reconnect seamlessly as you approach the cooker. With Meater+, as long as the bamboo case is close to the oven, you can go up to 50m away and retain a signal.
If you have an old spare phone that you can leave near the cooker, Apption labs have come up with two great solutions: Using one phone as a base unit Meater Wi-Fi Link will allow you to monitor things wherever your Wi-Fi will reach and with Meater Cloud you can track your cook from your own phone - from anywhere on the planet!