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Portable induction burner for sous vide?

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26 replies to this topic

#1 Keith_W

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 07:53 PM

Sorry guys, I know there is a huge sous-vide thread here on EG but it is waaaay too long for me to browse through. I went through the first 20 out of 98 pages and it did my head in!

Anyway, I have been thinking of buying a sous-vide controller from these guys:

http://www.cookingso...king-controller

... to use it, you plug a rice cooker or a slow cooker into the controller. The controller then monitors the water temperature and turns your appliance on and off to maintain the water temp.

One of the disadvantages that I see is that my rice cooker and slow cooker are pretty small. I could probably do steaks for two in my slow cooker, but forget about dinner party cooking.

I was thinking that I could use a portable induction burner, and put my great big stock pot on top. My stock pot is big enough for me to open my own soup kitchen, or to make stock from the neighbour's family pet (can you tell I am Chinese :) ). It should be able to sous-vide steaks for 8 people quite easily.

My question is: do most induction burners need to be turned on from the front panel if they have been switched off from the mains? Can anyone recommend a brand that would be suitable?
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#2 dougal

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 02:02 AM

...
My question is: do most induction burners need to be turned on from the front panel if they have been switched off from the mains? Can anyone recommend a brand that would be suitable?

View Post

Induction (in a real world commercial product) requires internal control electronics.
So there is a commercial advantage to offering it for sale with an electronic, rather than a mechanical, 'user interface'.
Which is totally unsuited to being controlled 'upstream' by your external sv controller.
You will not find a cheap induction unit that retains its settings while the power supply is interrupted.

There might be potential for a real hardware hacker to dismantle an induction unit and incorporate a PID controller, but neither of us are ready to go near that sort of stuff.

If you are looking to use an external PID sv controller, then you need to seek out a really simple heater for it to take charge of.
Any controls just get in the way -- hence the advice to turn any thermostats to maximum.
The ideal for those devices is just a plain heater element ... and no control more sophisticated than the simplest mechanical switch!

The forerunners of the current portable single burner induction units had a single traditional electric ring with a 'dumb' (mechanical) thermostat. One of those units might be a possibility.
Or maybe even an electric hotplate ...

However, the sensible thing would be to start with your rice cooker, and find your feet with sv.
Then later, maybe, you could consider using your controller with a bigger pot ...



Particularly with a long thread (like the sv one), its well worth using the 'search within this thread' facility -- located near the bottom left corner of every page.
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#3 jk1002

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 07:52 PM

I have the Viking Induction Cooktop, I actually tested this and it does reset when you pull out the plug.

Depending how often you want to use it, you may get around this.

Remember that Grant Achatz demo'ed in a video a turkey sous vide without a water bath at all. He just used a digital thermometer. This may not always work and probably too painfull for longer cooking time ut a good way to start off.

Cheers
JK

#4 GPStu

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 01:55 PM

I tried an induction unit that had a about 10 settings, and actually, it was cheap and did ok. In sous vide, there are basically 2 types of cooking - short duration and long duration. In short duration cooking, up to a few hours, almost any setup is good for heating. I got my intro using a pot-within-a-pot method. The larger outer pot insulated the inner water pot from too rapid a change in temp, and I just jacked up the heat until the outer pot was about 1-2 degrees above the inner pot. I just used a digital oven thermometer, and it was good enough for some chicken breasts, steaks, and salmon.

I then got an induction burner for around $100, and it, too, was excellent. I acknowledge the fact that most will not re-set after a power failure, but I did not have a power failure for the time I used it. I really like induction, and still use it. It had 20 settings, and the problem was that they were not really exact enough for sous vide. You really need to have accurate settings for most dishes, or it simply isn't going to come out the way you like it. This being said, I feel that accurate to approximately 1 degree is plenty good enough.

I finally got a rice cooker that held 10 quarts, a Sous Vide Magic PID, and I am a totally happy camper. The whole rig cost $240, and yielded good results from first plug-in. There is always better. There is always more expensive.

#5 dougal

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 02:41 PM

... I acknowledge the fact that most will not re-set after a power failure, but I did not have a power failure for the time I used it. I really like induction ...

View Post

I have been enthusing about induction for several years!

However, my point (in reply to the thread starter) was simply that those induction units are completely unsuited to being controlled by a plug-in PID controller, like your SV Magic.
Why? Because it controls by switching the power to the heater on and off.
And you know exactly what happens to the induction unit when the power goes off! :smile:
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#6 lemniscate

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 11:43 AM

My cheapie Burton induction burner has temp settings, 140F being the lowest. I tested it at that setting with a pan with ~2 quarts of water and the water temp stabilized and held (+-2F) at 158F. I'm not sure how it's measures the temp, if you know the idiosyncrasies of the unit, it *might* work for certain types of SV. I haven't tried any type of SV yet.

#7 Cim Ryan

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 01:12 PM

I just ordered one of those from freshmealssolutions.com , this weekend, and I'm planning to try it with a cheap hot plate under my stock pot, to see if I really need rice cooker.

As I understand it, the issues with the stock pot/hot plate approach are that, since a ricer cooker is better insulated, it'll have more uniform temperature throughout the pot than a stock pot, and it'll require less power than a stock pot to keep at temperature.

I'm planning to keep the lid to the pot on during cooking to help minimize the heat loss, and, if I find that the temperature in my stock pot isn't uniform, I plan to try an aquarium powerhead.

I'll post back with my results once everything's arrived, in a couple of weeks. (Assuming I don't forget...)

#8 Keith_W

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 03:01 AM

Thank you everyone for the helpful information and especially dougal. Looks like that induction cooker idea has gone out the window.

I have been driving myself bonkers trying to think up of a cheap SV solution. I quite like the pot within a pot idea, but it would be difficult to monitor the temp for long duration SV cooking - which is what I would like to try!

Maybe I should just buy an immersion circulator and be done with it!
There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

#9 Cim Ryan

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 10:42 PM

The cheap hot plate under the stock pot worked fine. I even made eggs in a plain, 3 qt sauce pan (covered). The temp while using the sauce pan stayed a couple of degrees over the set temp; didn't happen with the 12 qt stock pot.

I poked around in the stock pot with another temperature probe while I was cooking a NY Strip and the temp was constant inside the stock pot, so I don't think I'll be using a powerhead or a bubbler.

Oh, and while auto-tuning over night, the sous vide magic freaked out on me (the sensor reported temperatures in the 300's, and the unit started beeping), but it hasn't happened again, so I'm not sure what that was about.

#10 Kent Wang

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:59 AM

Wow, I think I'll try out the SV Magic with my current small rice cooker. I'll need to buy a bigger one for bigger cuts, but that's like $100 at the most I believe. Plus $150 (shipped to the US) for the SV Magic and you have a solution for around $250? That sounds almost too good to be true.

#11 technogypsy

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 08:10 AM

I too started with a water bath and hot plate then I went the Sous Vide Magic route too and was happy until I tried some sort time stuff. I was seeing so large temperature variation (I may of overloaded the unit to be honest...one could calculate the maximum mass one can add to the water to minimize the temperature drop but I didn't want to look up the formula) so I added a lab stirrer I borrowed (I did use a stirrer and rod). That worked great to get a faster return to temperature at the top. I was seeing about 1 half a degree C different with it. I think an air bubbler might work too but haven't tried it. But for anything over 30 minutes, I find the SVM works fine.

I did think of using an old polysci chiller from the lab but then starting worrying traces of ethylene glycol and methanol....
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#12 Kent Wang

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 09:33 PM

I just got the SV Magic and tried out a ribeye steak at 131F for 5 hours. It was the best steak I've ever had. So tender.

That steak barely fit into my 5 cup rice cooker. I think my next stop is to get a 10 cup rice cooker off of Craigslist for about $30. After that, a hot plate (probably around $30 as well) hooked up to my stock pot.

#13 mgaretz

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 10:53 PM

Crock pot? Or one of those large electric roasters?

Edited by mgaretz, 29 October 2009 - 10:53 PM.


#14 Dr Able Lawrence

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 09:22 PM

I think it is time some manufacturer come up with an induction cooker with sue vide control. Until then some one has to hack it I guess

Able

#15 PedroG

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 06:48 PM

There might be a few "dumb" portable induction hubs out there with mechanical controls, like the Viking - Portable Induction Cooker or the Tundra Manual Control Countertop Induction .
If you really encounter a dumb induction hob, I guess with a SVM it would make a very responsive (low thermal inertia) system similar to an immersion heater like FMM.
Did anyone try one of these with a SVM?
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#16 ScoopKW

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 02:17 PM

My wife has a wild hair about doing shabu-shabu parties. Doesn't matter that we don't have many friends here in Las Vegas. Maybe she thinks if we put out shabu, they will come. (She just read over my shoulder and said, "You make it sound like I'm nuts. It's for Chinese New Year.")

OK, dear. But we still don't have enough friends to justify a shabu/fondue/raclette party.

Anyway, reading the description of these portable induction cookers, they claim to be able to hold food at various temperatures -- which could be IDEAL for small amounts of sous-vide. A couple steaks, for instance, but not a turkey.

Here's a typical brand/model to run through Google -- Sunpentown Micro Induction Cooktop 964TB.


Any chance this working?
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#17 mkayahara

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 02:27 PM

If I don't say it, someone else will: shabu-shabu is a Japanese dish, and the Japanese celebrate the Gregorian New Year, not the lunar one. :wink:

Yes, you can definitely do sous vide in a big pot of water that you hold at a given temperature. An induction burner will do that more accurately than a gas or electric burner, but you're still not going to have the level of control you would with a PID device. An induction hot plate is probably a good investment in its own right though, so you might as well pull the trigger!
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#18 Lisa Shock

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 02:47 PM

The one issue I have encountered relates to the size of the pot and the room temperature. If your room is cold and the pot is large there can be a big temp difference between the top of the water and the water at the bottom. Heavier pots retain heat better, so they help. Stirring may also help a bit, too, but in some cases this is an insurmountable issue -no one wants to stand at a stove and stir for 36 hours straight. I'd recommend looking into one of the circulation devices people use when they make homebrew setups.

#19 _john

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 05:49 PM

if you want to use something like sousvide magic controller to do sousvide with an IH burner you are going to run into two problems. Induction burners don't turn on automatically when they are plugged in so they can't be modulated with the controller unless you modify them. Also I have a had a lot of trouble using digital thermometers with IH burners. Something about the magnetic field of the burner causes the thermometer to malfunction. unless you are getting a 220v induction burner it will also take a long time to get the water up to temperature.

#20 nickrey

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 06:17 PM

A lot of the cheaper induction cookers seem to have a smallish range of fixed temperature settings. With the one you referred to, for example, the website says that they have twelve fixed keep warm settings 100-120-140-160-180-190-210-230-250-280-300-350-390°F. Of these, I'd probably only use the 140F and 160F for sous vide cooking and only then if it could hold the temperatures stable. My feeling is that the induction cookers are far better at keeping consistent cooking temperatures than is a gas burner but they would be far less consistent than dedicated sous vide cookers. I'd possibly use one of these in preference to a hotplate for emergency sous vide but wouldn't use it as a matter of course.

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#21 David Sundstrom

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 10:06 AM

An induction cooker would be cool to have around, but not for sous vide. For the same cost you can get the portable solution from http://freshmealssolutions.com/ that includes a Sous Vide Magic controller and a bubbler. You can use this in most any size pot, or a small cooler for higher temperature cooking.

I have one and recommend it. A few more wires to manage than other solutions, but very cheap for a system that includes a bubbler or circulator.

#22 mgaretz

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 10:33 AM

An induction cooker would be cool to have around, but not for sous vide. For the same cost you can get the portable solution from http://freshmealssolutions.com/ that includes a Sous Vide Magic controller and a bubbler. You can use this in most any size pot, or a small cooler for higher temperature cooking.

I have one and recommend it. A few more wires to manage than other solutions, but very cheap for a system that includes a bubbler or circulator.


That's hardly the same cost. The Supentown that scoopkw was mentioning sells for under $60. The SVM controller and bubbler combo is over $350. I'm not saying they are the same thing, or that you could do anything but simple sous vide with the induction cooktop, just pointing out they aren't in the same cost ballpark.

#23 PedroG

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 04:26 PM

if you want to use something like sousvide magic controller to do sousvide with an IH burner you are going to run into two problems. Induction burners don't turn on automatically when they are plugged in so they can't be modulated with the controller unless you modify them. Also I have a had a lot of trouble using digital thermometers with IH burners. Something about the magnetic field of the burner causes the thermometer to malfunction. unless you are getting a 220v induction burner it will also take a long time to get the water up to temperature.

There might be a few "dumb" portable induction hubs out there with mechanical controls, see Viking - Portable Induction Cooker and Manual Control Countertop Induction Cooker (120V)
If you really encounter a dumb induction hob, I guess it would make a very responsive (low thermal inertia) system similar to an immersion heater like FMM.
If you can get one, please post your experiences here. But before buying make sure it heats after power OFF/ON.
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#24 Keith_W

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 02:05 AM

Something about the magnetic field of the burner causes the thermometer to malfunction. unless you are getting a 220v induction burner it will also take a long time to get the water up to temperature.


I think the above which I quoted more or less puts paid to the idea of using an induction cooker for SV. If the magnetic field induces a current in the thermometer probe, then you will never get accurate temperatures.
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#25 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 03:53 AM

What about a regular portable electric stove? Would that work?

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#26 gfweb

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:38 AM

An old fashioned hot plate/magnetic stirrer might do the job if the temp control knob was sensitive enough. But even then I think it'd be inferior to a pid controller / crock pot

#27 Shane Killeen

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 08:03 PM

Oliso Inc. released their new induction cooktop with sous vide attachment at the 2014 Fancy Food Show in NYC yesterday. Check it out!





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