The June Intelligent Oven

Turns the art of cooking into a data science

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othing in my home costs $1,500, so it’s tough to get past the sticker shock. Price aside, the June Intelligent Oven stands up to the hype. It is a classy looking appliance. The fit and finish of the product is solid and you can tell just by looking at it that it’s high-end. 

The appliance is aimed at busy folks who like homemade meals but don’t want to be chained to the kitchen. June is a helpful kitchen assistant that lets you go do your thing without the risk of burning the house down. It’s a safety net for cooking. It doesn’t save you time, but it offers peace of mind; guaranteeing that no matter how ambitious a meal is, all will be OK.

Design

The June oven has an Apple product vibe, which makes sense because June partnered with Quantum Computers, the manufacturer of Apple’s laptops and Watch. Both the oven and its interface are stunning. The June oven has been meticulously designed, from the solid, lightweight feel of the pans down to the packaging of the thermometer.  The digital interface isn’t cluttered and the UI doesn’t use unnecessarily weird symbols or suffer from mystery meat navigation.

June doesn’t just act like an oven, it acts like Alton Brown is in your kitchen and translating overwhelming instructions into quick, digestible steps for you so that you can concentrate on doing other things. Being that the product is still in Beta, I experienced occasional bugs where the June couldn’t detect a bun (or whatever), but it didn’t feel like the oven had completely failed at being an oven. If the preset you are looking for is MIA, you can easily pop over into manual mode with a quick tap. The June seems to understand that its purpose is to be an oven, first, and “smart” second.

The bells and whistles

The June Intelligent Oven uses a combination of its camera, scale, touchscreen, ports, apps and continuously updated cooking presets to make you the best possible meal. The technology is built in and it would be nearly impossible to replicate its features by retrofitting a traditional oven. The hardware is packed with sensors. Inside there is a platinum RTD for very accurate internal temperature reading. There is also a light sensor that adjusts the brightness of the touchscreen to the lighting environment in the room. The June oven uses carbon fiber heating elements that can fully power up in three seconds, which greatly reduces the time needed for preheat.

The internal camera is heat and fog resistant and is mounted into the top of the device, giving you a birds-eye view of the inside. It helps recognize the food and allows you to monitor the cooking process remotely from the app on your phone. The scale weighs the food to help estimate cooking time and temp. As an added bonus, the top of the oven also doubles as a food scale, which I found handy for baking. The core temperature thermometer measures the internal temperature, which you can select by choosing how you want your food prepared: rare, medium rare, well, etc. The touchscreen on the front right of the device is a good size and nearly invisible until you start interacting with the oven. It reliably reacts to touch inputs even with wet and sticky fingers. I found the dial below the touchscreen to be key when my hands were too dirty to want to touch the screen — I even found myself pressing with my elbows when needed.

 

Cooking takes a ton of time…

Even though the June oven helps you multitask, cooking can be a chore. I made a few items every day for the week I had it. I easily put in about 20 hours of cooking — a huge leap from my usual two to three hours a week. For the most part, recipes and presets I used didn’t require a ton of prep. Just pick your meat or vegetable of choice, add some olive oil, herbs and a dash of your favorite spice, and you are good to go.

Open the oven, confirm the food (if there is a preset), then wait… three hours. That actually only happened once. I bought the smallest whole chicken I could find and roasted it with some vegetables. Estimates I found online were saying for the size, the roast would take less than two hours, but for some reason it was more like three and a half in the June. That said, the cook was perfect. The chicken was juicy, light and tender with a crispy brown skin. My husband and I just ended up eating at 10 pm.

Not knowing how long something will take to cook until after it’s prepped and in the June did cause a few small pain points. But I imagine with a simple guide with cook times for some of the more popular foods would do wonders to make the automated timing a little less of a mystery.

Perfecting the cook

I never once had to worry about my potatoes being undercooked. Both standard and sweet potatoes come out soft and fluffy on the inside, with a nice brown crisp on the edges. I cut my potatoes into cubes out of habit, but am told you also can make baked potatoes to perfection using the probe. Asparagus and Brussels sprouts in the June were also a hit. My husband, who tends to shy away from any food that is green, came back for seconds. The broccoli, however, was weirdly dehydrated on the crowns, giving it almost the consistency of kale chips. The stalks were moist and well cooked, but the tops were dry and crunchy, making for a weird texture in my mouth.

This same effect is magic on pastries and baked goods. I made cookies, pie, brownies, pizza and dinner rolls. Even Pillsbury tasted delicious. I got toaster strudels, dinner rolls and pre-rolled pie crust because I wanted to test more of the presets and was tired of cooking. Hands-down these were among my favorite cooks. The brown crispy outsides were something I couldn’t possibly match in my standard oven. While we are on the topic of browning, none of my meats did (besides the chicken that was in there for ages). The steak and pork were both a uniform brownish-grey color that visually distracted from how good the cook was on the inside. We do a lot of sous-vide meats in my house and my husband ended up pan frying a chop after it came out of the June — just to give it some flavor and crisp. This extra step, of course, made it way overcooked. I do however, think this lack of crust and visual appeal is fixable if June tests broil-like heat at the beginning or end of their meat presets as part of getting the inside up to temp. I guess it will all depend on how the June community feels about pretty looking cutlets, steaks and chops.  

Another pro tip: If there isn’t a preset and you’re following a recipe you’ve cooked in a standard oven or just found online, you’ll want to set your timer for 20 percent less time than the recipe called for on the same temp. I found that the recipes I tried cooked, on average, five minutes quicker than the recipe recommended. I’m not complaining about the quicker cook, but there was a pattern of several dishes being done and properly browned before the buzzer. As a result, I did actually have to pay a bit of attention to it toward the end of any rogue recipe, instead of just trusting the June to know what to do.

App and notifications

I didn’t find the app particularly helpful. It is basically an external controller that has a few interesting features, like a stored history of what you’ve cooked and being able to watch and share a time-lapse of your meal. You can see what the oven is up to and what is going on with your food from the other room. What I did find to be massively helpful, though, were the notifications. I’d pop in some toast then hop in the shower or make something like granola that takes longer and completely forget that I had something in the oven.

Getting notifications that there’s a minute left, the food is done or it has been ready for three minutes kept me on course. The Apple Watch notifications were particularly helpful because, when I am home, I don’t always have my phone on my person. Unrelated to the app, one of the best features is that after your food is done, even if it is still in the oven, the June automatically turns off the heat and keeps your food warm so nothing gets burned.

Cleaning

It’s a pain. With all the slick shiny metal surfaces, it is hard to keep the thing clean. When you use it a lot, like any oven, it builds up a stubborn layer of splatter that does not want to come off. I accidentally scratched one of the pans trying to get it clean. A price you pay for beauty I suppose.

Is June a smart purchase?

The June Intelligent Oven is a beautiful piece of hardware that mitigates the excuses of making meals at home. I think smart devices such as these are the future. It’s crazy to imagine a world where all your smart appliances can talk to one another. For example, if the June oven could check my smart fridge for which ingredients I have and suggest something to make or recipes I like, then my smart fridge could automatically place an order with Amazon Fresh to replenish anything that is missing. That would really be the ideal. For now, the June oven is a promising glimpse of that future, but it isn’t quite there yet. It’s just too expensive to be a counter-top device. Obviously this is only for the wealthy and tech-forward. If this was an actual full-size oven, that might make the experience worth the price tag.