24 Responses to “Why Cook Sous Vide?”

  1. Convenient, Quality and Consistent
    .. These are my reasons for cooking Sous Vide.

    • SavageMind says:

      Melinda,
      Let him do it. It is a relatively safe process. I have built five myself. I’m not that mechanically inclined and my wife gets into a panic when I have a screwdriver in my hand. Its a fun way to cook and you will enjoy the results. You can make one from 70-300 dollars. I’m a culinary student and it has been fun learning new way to cook the same dishes.

  2. Melinda says:

    Great article. We aspire to cook sous vide but are too dang poor. Non-handy hubby found some DIY blueprints but I put the brakes on that when I realized he would be working with water and electricity.

    • ericbnyc says:

      Melinda,

      I made my own – probably from the same design on the web – saved THOUSANDS of dollars doing it myself, and eventually won over my girlfriend who had the same concerns as you do. Frankly I was similarly concerned, but it is indeed perfectly safe, and you can even include a gfi outlet (like required by code near running water in bathrooms, etc) in your build if it makes you more comfortable. Sous Vide with cheap cuts of meat is wonderful.

  3. Dave says:

    How do you know if your plastic wrap contains PVC? I’ve never come across a restaurant sized SARAN WRAP before. It’s all generic food service brands. Does it say on the box?

  4. jwagner says:

    Is a combi oven essential for cooking sous vide at home?

    • Judy says:

      Great question. No, it is not essential at all. In fact, we usually use a water bath when cooking sous vide. This can be something you buy, such as a SousVide Supreme water bath or Polyscience circulator. But, in MCAH, we give lots of tips on cooking sous vide in things you probably already have, like rice cookers or picnic coolers. We’ll be posting a recipe that uses a homemade set-up later this week.

  5. Timothy says:

    What about food safety protocols?
    Beef cooked to 136F will not kill all pathogens.
    or am I missing something?

    • Judy says:

      Hi Timothy,

      What is important to remember here is that time is just as much of a factor as temperature is. Meat cooked to a certain temperature and then held there for a certain amount of time (the time will vary depending on the temperature), will be fully pasteurized. Make sense?

      • Mr Scared says:

        Makes sense but doesn’t make me less concerned.

        In non-MC cooking I may know, for example, that if I hit X degrees for even a second I don’t have to worry about pathogens.

        And non-MC cooking is not that precise. So if I want X degrees, odds are I’ll go over it killing all pathogens.
        However, if I set a water bath to 140F for 5 hours and it never gets to 140F is everything killed ? And how reliable are the numbers anyway for this relatively new way of cooking. Do I want to risk getting ill based on MC books cooking times when there is almost no risk from non-MC cooking ?

    • Leigh Jones says:

      136 degrees instantly kills all pathogens, 131 degrees for an hour pasteurizes the food

    • Chef Rob says:

      HACCP control point only needs 30 seconds at 150 degrees to kill salmonella, but it will take 15 minutes at 130 degrees. Many of the pathogens also rely of the presence of oxygen to assist in growth so the vacuum sealing retards that process as well. Too long in the anaerobic state then you’re talking botulism.

  6. Cindy says:

    Was wondering earlier this week about sous vide using canning jars. Any special recommendations? I assume you vacuum as you would the bags. Any particular food type that would be especially suitable to jar sous vide?

    • Judy says:

      Hi Cindy,

      Yes, you seal the jars tightly. Our recipe for Sous Vide Tuna Confit in Modernist Cuisine at Home illustrates using jars instead of bags.

  7. rl reeves jr says:

    We’re purchasing a large batch of offal (heart,kidney,liver etc) from a local hog breeder (Large Black) and are interested in cooking these meats sous vide. We have a diy circulator that’s running good and smooth and are looking for any tips people can offer on offal cooking via circulator.

  8. Mary Beth says:

    I’ve found a slow cooker to be a great way to cook sous vide. I have one that is thermostatically controlled by degree and one with dual crocks (see Bella double or triple slow cooker..there are other brands too, but not sure on temp stability other than my own) that maintain a constant temp within a range of ~5-8 degrees when I tested the water with an electronic and standard thermometer on warm, low and high. I use a standard home vac sealer and there is a canning jar attachment (test it w/ a marshmallow for suction) that does a great job. Great results with halved pears that I might otherwise have poached for desserts. They retain their sweetness, texture and don’t lose any flavor to the poaching liquid. (Spiced in the bag before vacuuming with vanilla and cinnamon/ dip rounded half in sugar and caramelize with a blow torch before slicing for a great presentation! )

    BTW-For the offal..lots of recipes for liver pudding, scrapple and of course pate do well sous vide. Vac seal the terrine or loaf pan if it fits in your bath or shape in the bag and vac to seal. Enjoy!

  9. chris says:

    As a professional chef, I absolutely love cooking sous vide, although we at the restaurant I currently work, I have not fully convinced my owner to spend the money but maybe this article will do it…

  10. Chris Cowland says:

    I downloaded plans from an internet site “Sous vide cooker for under $40″, and assembled it in an hour or two. It connects to a regular slow cooker ($5 from a local goodwill store). The results were amazing. It cycles the heat on and off as soon as there is a temperature difference of half a degree. When you order the temperature sensor, which comes from China with free shipping, just make sure you get the correct voltage, which requires some digging through the specifications. Looking forward to attacking some of Heston Blumenthal’s recipes now!

  11. Leigh Jones says:

    I have been using a 7-qt oval crock pot with a Johnson Controls A419 thermostat for several hundred wonderful sous vide dinners at home now. Though this temperature control method allows for a degree or so more variance during cooking compared to a more widely used PID controller, it clearly has a few important advantages that have saved my meals several times. The most important is that it recovers better from short power interruptions and comes back up to temperature faster when cold meat is dropped into the crock pot. It is clear from the results cooking that the temperature “oscillation” issue has no negative impact on food quality, and the recovery from power interruptions has saved me on many occasions.

    The most important reasons to do sous vide cooking are:

    1) it allows me to fully cook a piece of meat that will be ready to quickly “finished” when I get home from work — I can have a roast and the rest of a meal on the table in less than a half hour

    2) the piece of meat will be “patient” if I get home several hours late

    3) if I finally decide to eat out, I can ice down the meat when I get home from dinner and quickly reheat it the next day — and it will actually be more tender.

    4) Round steak and London broils are often mistaken for fillet mignon when cooked at 131 degrees F for 24 hours; tri-tips by the same recipe are miraculous — I take them to pot lucks and people tell me they are unforgettable.

    5) food cooked for four hours or more at 131 degrees is not sterilized but is pasteurized so that if left in the bag I disturbed it will keep much longer in the fridge than otherwise — and this pasteurization method can be used more than once to extend freshness of leftovers

    6) at home during mealtime preparation there is no raw meat being handled at all–and there is only a quick searing done on the meat

    Tips: don’t pre-sear, only post sear, use ZipLok Freezer bags, use only simple dry seasonings in the bag and only add any fresh herbs outside of the bag after cooking, learn the virtues and proper handling of cast iron, use bag liquids to deglaze and make sauces, and rest the meat to cool it before searing so it’s temperature stays below the target temperature, microwave slices to satisfy ‘well done’ desires, when making stews, casseroles, etc., cook the veggies separately and add the cubes of meat after the veggies have cooled to below 135 degrees

  12. Daniel says:

    There may be many reasons to cook sous vide but, non of them beat a well cooked piece of meat using fire.

  13. Don says:

    I disagree with Daniel.
    You can have the best of both worlds.
    I’ve cooked sous vide for a couple years and find the best combination is sous vide cooked exactly the temperature I like it, then cooled a bit and finished on a very hot wood fire, with a little mesquite, for the perfect bark.

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